Whataboutery and noblogathons

For some reason, charges of hyocrisy and misdirected attention make both Johann Hari and Sunder Katwala break out the neologisms. [Hari](http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johann-hari/how-to-spot-a-lame-lame-a_b_185787.html) calls it ‘whataboutery’:
>When you have lost an argument – when you can’t justify your case, and it is crumbling in your hands – you snap back: “But what about x?”
>You then raise a totally different subject, and try to get everybody to focus on it – hoping it will distract attention from your own deflated case.
>So whenever I report on, say, atrocities committed by Israel, I am bombarded with e-mails saying: “But what about the bad things done by Muslims? Why do you never talk about them?” Whenever I report on the atrocities committed by Islamists, I am bombarded with e-mails saying: “But what about Israel?
[Sunder](http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2009/04/23/calling-time-on-the-whynoblogathon/) applies the principle to blogs, where it becomes the ‘Whynoblogathon’:
>Oh, I see you have blogged about X but you chose not to blog about Y. Ah-ha! Now we see your hidden agenda.
On a personal level, I agree with both of them. But they’re smudging an important distinction between personal blame and group behaviour. I don’t care what one columnist, or one blogger, writes about. But the importance we attach to issues depends on whether we are repeatedly confronted with them. Media attention is the main reason why a British life counts for so much more than an Afghan one. It’s why we distrust science (because we hear about the entertaining bad science, but not about the good science). It’s why Mail readers get wildly distorted ideas about race and crime. This is stuff we need to talk about, in the same way as we need to be able to talk about institutional racism without calling people bigots.

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