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A sinking feeling tells me it probably isn’t that easy.

I think I speak for all straight white men when I say that sounds really bad and if I was doing it I’m sorry and will try to avoid ever doing it again. Can’t believe that took us however many centuries to sort out.

The closest analogy I can think of is those religious people who say “God is just another word for the order and beauty in the Universe” – and then later pray to God to smite their enemies.

In the comments section of the last disaster of a social justice post on my blog, someone started talking about how much they hated the term “mansplaining”, and someone else popped in to – ironically – explain what “mansplaining” was and why it was a valuable concept that couldn’t be dismissed so easily. At this point I jumped in and commented: I feel like every single term in social justice terminology has a totally unobjectionable and obviously important meaning – and then is actually used a completely different way.

Statements like “God is just the order and love in the universe” and “No one perceives reality perfectly directly” and “Men should not interject into safe spaces for women” are the motte – extremely defensible, but useless.

As long as nobody’s challenging you, you spend time in the bailey reaping the rewards of occupying such useful territory. So let me point out something I think the standard theory fails to explain, but my theory explains pretty well.

If you were a medieval lord, you would do most of your economic activity in the bailey and get rich.

The writers of the paper compare this to a form of medieval castle, where there would be a field of desirable and economically productive land called a bailey, and a big ugly tower in the middle called the motte.Then you would go back to the bailey, which is the place you wanted to be all along.By this metaphor, statements like “God is an extremely powerful supernatural being who punishes my enemies” or “The Sky Ox theory and the nuclear furnace theory are equally legitimate” or “Men should not be allowed to participate in discussions about gender” are the bailey – not defensible at all, but if you can manage to hold them you’ve got it made.As such it should be taken as a sort of weird Rosetta Stone of social justicing, and I can only hope that similarly illustrative explanations are made of other equally charged terms. We know he deserved this, because people who argue he didn’t deserve this were also fired from their jobs. But I think there is a strain of the social justice movement which is very much about abusing this ability to tar people with extremely dangerous labels that they are not allowed to deny, in order to further their political goals. I started this post by saying I recently learned there is a term for the thing social justice does.A reader responding to my comment above pointed out that this tactic had been described before in a paper, under the name “motte-and-bailey doctrine”.This website uses cookies as well as similar tools and technologies to understand visitors' experiences.

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