Motte and Bailey Arguments

From Quora’s Would you consider the phrase Toxic Masculinity to be toxic?

Caleb Beers, slightly more boring than the average person
Answered Jul 5, 2018

The phrase “toxic masculinity” is, itself, toxic, because it’s a motte and bailey doctrine.

If you’re too lazy to click that link, I’ll explain it here: a motte and bailey doctrine is where you make a lot of outlandish arguments that nobody would agree with, and then, when challenged, retreat and say “No no no I’m only saying [insert airtight definition that doesn’t really imply their point here].” The fallacy takes its name from a medieval castle called a “motte and bailey,” where you have a relatively vulnerable enclosure (bailey) with a much more defensible fallback position (motte). If someone attacks the bailey, you retreat to the motte until they leave, and then you go right back to the bailey.

Alexander identifies some more popular and contemporary identifiable examples, for instance when some feminists argue that in order to be feminist one has to support specific and controversial laws and social norms, but when challenged they retreat to the motte that feminism just means “women are people” or something similar.

“Toxic masculinity” is a typical example of this. Feminists will cite men sitting with their knees too many inches apart as an example of “toxic masculinity,” (bailey) and then when challenged on this, say something like “Oh no I’m just saying that men are under too much pressure In Our Society™” (motte). Then, if you agree to that, they’ll keep arguing that men sitting with their knees too many inches apart is toxic masculinity. It’s about hopping from one foot to the other continuously so nobody can pin down exactly where the sleight-of-hand is happening in your argument. This is a fallacy so subtle that the people using it often do not even realize what they’re doing, which makes it difficult to pin down because in their minds, they’re being totally sincere.

Christians can’t expect their enemies to worry about logical consistency or accuracy: as any modern academic or media type could tell you, words exist to gain a certain political objective (power), not to communicate an accurate, clear understanding of objective reality (truth).

“Assuming any such thing even exist, of course” they would add with a snort.

But while our enemies can afford to place a ‘zero’ value on truth, we cannot.

Therefore, we must not only be aware of the various lies and deceptions being played out, but must loathe, despise, filter out, and fling away all such sleight-of-hand nonsense from our own thinking and language.

Clear, consistent, logical thinking is what God demands, and we must provide.

This is only reasonable, as we live in a consistent, logical, deeply organized Creation, not some random mumbo-jumbo Whirl where anything can become true, if you throw enough billions of years at it.

Or if the Party demands it.

From Why do people think “toxic masculinity” means ALL masculinity is toxic? Do they bother reading an operational definition?

Caleb Beers

Oh, look, a motte and bailey argument!

There’s this thing progressives will do where they define a term in a totally disingenuous manner that has nothing to do with how it’s actually used, and then try to distract you with it. The term “toxic masculinity,” in practice, is just one more accusation that progressive men can throw at each other to virtue-signal and stroke their moral vanity. It also serves as a justification for the hysterical behavior of people who are frightened of men.

The “technical” definition, as with all progressive newspeak, is completely irrelevant because it has nothing to do with how the term is used. It’s similar to how feminists will support controversial policies and social norms and then, when challenged, back up and go “Whoa whoa whoa I’m just saying that women are people come on dude,” even though the argument they were making is not even close to that.

You ought to remember this every time a progressive points to the “technical” definition of toxic masculinity, or feminism, or racism, or whatever: the technical definitions are false because they do not relate to how the word is used in practice. The definitions are, like everything else in their lexicon, a justification. Of course, if anybody uses a term like “toxic masculinity” unironically, you can safely ignore everything they say; they have nothing to offer you. Ignore them until they demonstrate that they have their own opinions, like a real person.

Of course, they’ll shout and scream about your horrible moral failings for not accepting their bizarre abuses of language. They’ll respond to every criticism by redefining words. If you don’t accept it, then they’ll start acting like martyrs: “accept my cynical manipulation of language or you’re a horrible person!” What’s that? I can’t hear you from all the way up on that cross. It’s similar to how toddlers throw a tantrum to get what they want.

“When you point out that I’m abusing language, it’s so horrible! I’m melting! I’M MEEEELLLLTIIIIING!!”

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