Social Theory and Practice

Volume 42, Issue 2, April 2016

Dominating Speech

David Schraub
Pages 285-303

Playing with Cards
Discrimination Claims and the Charge of Bad Faith

A common response to claims of bias, harassment, or discrimination is to say that these claims are made in bad faith. Claimants are supposedly not motivated by a credible or even sincere belief that unfair or unequal treatment has occurred, but simply seek to illicitly gain public sympathy or private reward. Characterizing discrimination claims as systematically made in bad faith enables them to be screened and dismissed prior to engaging with them on their merits. This retort preserves the dominant group’s self-image as unprejudiced and innocent without having to risk critical analysis of the claim’s substance.