Derailing Conversations: A Primer

This satirical site is meant to chide "Privileged People" in the interest of "marginalized groups," but it plays in surprisingly well with our recent conversation about journalists seeing themselves as members of the elite.
If you really want to excel as a privileged person you need to learn to value data, statistics, research studies and empirical evidence above all things, but especially above personal experiences. You can pretend you are oblivious to the fact most studies have been carried out by privileged people and therefore carry inherent biases, and insist that the marginalized person produce “Evidence” of what they‘re claiming.Their experience does not count as evidence, for it is subjective and therefore worthless.
This is very important because it works in two ways: 1) it communicates to the marginalized person that their personal testament is disbelieved and of no value, causing them great hurt; and 2) it once again reinforces your privilege.

You see, the very capacity to conduct studies, collect data and write detached “fact-based” reports on it, is an inherently privileged activity. The ability to widely access this material and research it exhaustively is also inherently privileged. Privileged People® find it easier to pursue these avenues than marginalized people and so once again you are reminding them you possess this privilege and reinforcing that the world at large values a system of analysis that excludes them, and values it over what their actual personal experience has been.

The process of valuing “fact” over “opinion” is one very much rooted in preserving privilege. Through this methodology, the continued pain and othering of millions of people can be ignored because it’s supported by “opinion” (emotion) and not “fact” (rationality).

It is also important because it calls on the marginalized person to do something that is simply impossible, and that is to summarize the entirety of their group’s experiences into a definitive example. It is important that you establish this precedent for the next couple of steps.
Well, fair enough -- blue collar guys are definitely a marginalized group, increasingly these last several years. I wonder if that's what they meant us to discover, though.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

I have seen this for years, always with the goal of denying facts and substituting one's own impressions. It trades on some minor truths - research is indeed done by and on WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrial, Rich, Democratic) college students who may not be entirely representative of all of humanity, especially in terms of individuality, community, and injustice. I still consider it a dodge for people who don't have the facts on their side.

Interesting reversal on those aforementioned blue-collar workers, though. But that's another example of expecting people to be reasonable, consistent, and logical. That grace will not be extended to machinists.

MikeD said...

You say this is satirical, but I have seen someone write, with absolute sincerity, that logic is sexist. As in, creating a coherent opinion based upon facts and logical argument is a tool of teh Patriarchy and used to oppress women... and this argument was made by a woman.

Now, maybe it was true in her case, and she personally was made to feel bad by people using logic and facts against her, but I think that's neither a universal female experience, nor is it anything really more than an indication that her viewpoints are internally weak and incoherent (and thus cannot abide simple logic).

Tom said...

That's the right idea -- turn it around on them. Insist you feel very strongly that you are the marginalized one and minorities (or whomever your opponents are claiming to represent) are really the privileged ones. If they try to bring facts to bear on which demographic is really marginalized, throw their "fact privilege" in their faces. Be ready to play either role, master of facts, or powerful emoter and oppressed minority (you feel like a minority, right?), as it benefits your argument.

That's exactly the shtick they've been running for decades.