Motte-and-bailey is a term that’s starting to be less niche than it used to be, which is great.

It describes a kind of strategic equivocation, or bait-and-switch, that fuels a lot of gross social stuff. One common instance of it is that you find a label or description for something that technically fits, given a narrow definition, but then once you’ve made the label stick, you abuse it by stretching out to the broader definitions.

So, for instance, someone might loudly declare “all cops are bastards.” That sounds pretty extreme, so you might raise your hand to object.

“I know…

Duncan A Sabien

Duncan Sabien is a writer, teacher, and maker of things. He loves parkour, LEGOs, and MTG, and is easily manipulated by people quoting Ender’s Game.

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