I’m sure this fallacy has existed for many years and has already been described and named here, but I first came across it in P Sainath’s opeds. I brought it up again because it seems to have been spreading beyond Sainath in the recent past (where India is concerned).
The Sainath fallacy is basically this: “How dare you outrage about Cause X when Cause Y is so much more outrageous!”
Specific examples are:
- Sainath himself: how dare the finance minister worry about the stock markets when India is so low on the Human Development Index! (This actually combines the Sainath fallacy with misdirected outrage, another thing that seems to be spreading these days, but that’s a topic for another post)
- Richard Dawkins: how dare atheist women worry about men behaving creepily when Muslim women are at risk of genital mutilation!
- Hindutvawadis: how dare the media talk about human rights abuses in Kashmir/ riots/ whatever the media is talking about when they never address the issue of Kashmiri Pandit refugees!
- I can’t find links right now, but I vaguely remember people outraging that women were Slutwalking for the right to dress as they pleased instead of focusing on far more pressing issues like dowry deaths or female foeticide.
Basically, it’s not enough to be outraged yourself. Everyone else has to share your outrage. And moreover, all outrage over anything else is illegitimate.
Dear Sainath, Dawkins, and other outragers: as long as people are expressing themselves with their own money, or on their own blogs, and not using your money or house or website to do it – how about you let them say whatever the fuck they want?