1 September 2016

Hot Potato Issues

The accepted wisdom around certain issues is so strong that that one can incur criticism merely by discussing them.

Hot potato issues are a fact of life. Antisemitism is one; rape is another. Basically there is widely accepted core discourse on the issue, which everybody accepts, save a small extreme fringe. Conflict arises when someone talks about the issue, accepting the socially accepted facts and principles, but adds details, probes the logic of argument and/or makes comparison with something else. The cry immediately goes up that the commentator is relativising, and therefore undermining and attacking the principle or questioning the facts.

Hot potato issues are often kept hot for political reasons, reputable or disreputable. But the best way of probing these issues politically is not always to jump in where angels fear to tread.

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