About face

Christopher Caldwell once made an astute observation:

One moves swiftly and imperceptibly from a world in which affirmative action can’t be ended because its beneficiaries are too weak to a world in which it can’t be ended because its beneficiaries are too strong.

What do you call such a brazen, shameless about-face? A Caldwellian pivot? I’ve got one too:

One moves swiftly and imperceptibly from a world in which you’re a bigot if you compare gay marriage to something as unsavory as polygamy to a world in which you’re a bigot for suggesting that there is something wrong with polygamy.

The following conversation actually took place. I’m going to capriciously refer to the interlocutor as Kai, no relation.

Me: If you accept a marriage between two men, you must also accept a marriage between a man and —
Kai, interrupting: A goat!
Me: I was actually going to say “multiple women”. But since you bring it up, what are your arguments against a man marrying a goat?
Kai, taken aback but only very slightly: Hmm, it’s just not a very common issue right now. If and when it becomes relevant we can discuss it. In principle, ruling out animal cruelty, I have no objection.

Actually, Kai’s jiu-jitsu is several levels above a plain vanilla Caldwellian pivot. In the course of a single conversation, I managed to become a bigot twice: first, for having the offensive gay-marriage/bestiality suggestion forcibly imposed on me, and second for suggesting that there is anything wrong with the latter!

I need a good name for Kai’s jiu-jitsu move. “How dare you compare X to something as offensive as Y, or for that matter suggest that there’s something wrong with Y” is actually fairly common and deserves a name.

Update: I’m provisionally going with  Caldwellian tai otoshi.

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