Derail Using Distraction

Aren’t You Treating Each Other Worse Anyway
This one is great – it’s the Derailing for Dummies below the belt sucker-punch! By using this one you at once distract from the topic at hand at the same time as confirming just the sort of bigotry you really, truly believe (like they didn’t already know!). Additionally, it demonstrates the height of your privilege – that you are so distanced from reality you are incapable of perceiving how marginalization objectification and social ostracization may have contributed to internal issues as the marginalized group struggle to get by in a world that treats them like property or aberrations. When the marginalized person is talking about the sort of discrimination they face from privileged people and it’s beginning to make you feel a little uncomfortable, it’s a great opportunity to trot out, say, stats about “black-on-black” violence to dismiss police brutality, or perhaps talk about how women are all really mean and bitchy and criticize each other’s body to indicate that societal pressure on weight and body image is irrelevant. You could even talk about gay men and their wild, unprotected sex orgies being entirely responsible for the spread of AIDS to diminish gay bashing and homophobia (after all, if a good, straight male has to fear catching the AIDS from a gay man strolling past, beating him to a pulp with a fire hydrant is totally reasonable!). But best of all, it suggests that they are entirely responsible for all the trial and tribulation that they face – it’s not discriminatory society, no way, no how! It’s their incapacity to treat each other respectfully. Because they’re, you know, less than human. Only the most degraded and depraved would be so rotten to their own kind! Right? As the marginalized person steadily realizes this is your attitude, they will be overwhelmed with horror and, with any luck, they will lose track of their argument – or maybe just grind to a halt, enabling you to sit back smugly and rack up another point to your score.

I’m Just Saying What Other People Believe. I Never Said I Agree
This technique is a great little duck and dodge if you’re feeling slightly set-upon. Often times in these conversations and dealing with the backlash, you can begin to feel a little uncomfy in your bigoted conviction. This is not a nice thing for a Privileged Person® to experience. After all, it’s really important that everyone everywhere ever thinks you’re totally wonderful. Popularity is a very important thing to have in this modern world – it proves things about you. Proves that you’re popular. And, you don’t really want everyone to think you’re a total douchebag, not even hostile, whiney marginalized person whose opinions and feelings don’t really count. No, the most important thing is that even as you rattle off a bunch of offensive, demeaning opinions, that you are still able to convince people that you’re really a very wonderful person.The problem with rattling off a bunch of offensive, demeaning opinions is that somebody somewhere – usually a person from the group who is the target of your expressed sentiments – is not going to be fooled by your magical privilege wondercoat and is going to see you for the scumbag you really are. And they’re going to object. And this may slightly rock your perception of reality.

That’s when you can pretend – oh no, no, no – it wasn’t that you were stating your opinion, you were just repeating what ‘other people’ believe – hey you could even throw in a little indignant outrage here: “HOW dare you imply I agree with them!”

With this tactic you can bait and switch at almost any point in “the Game”. It’s an easy out – make some ignorant comment about how it’s a natural biological urge for women to have children? Naaaah, that’s just how most people feel! State some incredibly nasty belief that all trans women have a slightly ‘mannish’ cast about them? It’s not that you agree, it’s just that you’ve heard so many other people say it. Or how about something brimming with hate, like how ‘in general’, black folks would ‘rather’ get a free handout than work? That’s not your opinion, it’s just a commonly-held belief!

This tactic pretty much gives you a free pass to say whatever venomous, hateful, bigoted opinion you can think of – because when called on it, you can just deny, deny, deny.

I Said SOME Marginalized People Do That, Not ALL
A ‘variation on the theme’ of the above tactic, this is also how you dodge out of accusations you are making offensive and incorrect generalizations or treating marginalized person like a hive-mind. It’s convenient because it doesn’t require you to do the unthinkable and actually admit you were wrong and being a total jerk, but it gives the impression you are making a concession of some sort. Even though you are, in fact, simply defending your prejudiced viewpoint through a subtler means. At least, you think so. Chances are, the marginalized person is actually not going to be fooled by this cleverness (though expect that other privileged people will be) and will grow more irritated you honestly believe them so stupid as to be persuaded by such obvious and underhand dodge tactics. Some examples you could use: Claiming that women prefer to work with people in power from behind the scenes rather than work on their own careers; that fat people are simply lazy, unmotivated and always looking for a quick fix; that people with mental illnesses are usually just playing the system and looking for charity whilst exaggerating their conditions.

Don’t forget that when you are called out on your generalization shift to a semantics argument: “Now, now, I never said ALL marginalized people act that way, just that SOME do, and so it can’t really be called a generalization can it?” Example: “I never said all people on food stamps are buying lobster and champagne! Just that some are! Are you saying NO ONE cheats the system?”

*Remember, getting them angry is ultimately a good thing, because while it may result in discomfort for you, it will also enable you and your supporters to further dismiss their words on the grounds they ‘can’t be civil’. Don’t forget you don’t have to deal with their anger for too much longer and can soon return to your cushiony world of unchallenged privilege, so it is worth it in the long run!

A In B Situation Is Not Equivalent To X In Y Situation
Your marginalized person may put in a last-ditch effort to be patient and reasonable by using an analogy. If you are yourself a member of a marginalized community exercising privilege over the group you’re arguing with, the marginalized person may use an example of discrimination towards your community and how there are parallels in discrimination towards theirs. This will be to try and appeal to your basic humanity and provide you with an experience you can relate to, hoping you will use that relation to apply compassion. Don’t worry! You can still get out of this one! Simply become indignant and be very sure to emphasize that your experience is absolutely and one hundred per cent unique and there are no similarities whatsoever between the two situations. Be sure that you are very derisive of their experience, thereby indicating you believe it unworthy of consideration. You must also behave insulted, so as to indicate their issues are so worthless that it’s deeply offensive your own would be compared to them! Of course, the marginalized person was not trying to equate the two, simply trying to provide grounds for commonality. It’s very important not to give an inch, however, so feign utter ignorance of this at all costs. Remember: you want them to feel they really are less than human. It weakens their position and that’s important if you want to win.