Kafkatrap

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See also: kafkatrap

English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

A 1923 photograph of Franz Kafka, whose book Der Proceß (The Trial, 1925) inspired the word Kafkatrap.

From Kafka +‎ trap, coined in a July 2010 blog post (see the quotation below) by the American software developer and author Eric S. Raymond (born 1957) in reference to the book Der Proceß (The Trial, 1925) by the Bohemian author Franz Kafka (1883–1924), in which a man is accused of crimes that are never specified.

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Noun[edit]

Kafkatrap (plural Kafkatraps)

  1. A sophistical rhetorical device in which any denial by an accused person serves as evidence of guilt. [from 2010]
    Jill said Jack was paranoid, and when he told her he was not she just nodded knowingly. It was a perfect Kafkatrap.
    • 2010 July 18, Eric S[teven] Raymond, “Kafkatrapping”, in Armed and Dangerous[1] (blog), archived from the original on 19 December 2020:
      One very notable pathology is a form of argument that, reduced to essence, runs like this: "Your refusal to acknowledge that you are guilty of {sin, racism, sexism, homophobia, oppression …} confirms that you are guilty of {sin, racism, sexism, homophobia, oppression …}." I've been presented with enough instances of this recently that I've decided that it needs a name. I call this general style of argument "kafkatrapping", and the above the Model A kafkatrap. In this essay, I will show that the kafkatrap is a form of argument that is so fallacious and manipulative that those subjected to it are entitled to reject it based entirely on the form of the argument, without reference to whatever particular sin or thoughtcrime is being alleged.
    • 2020 June 26, Bruce Pardy, “Apocalyptic Science: How the West is Destroying Itself”, in Financial Post[2], Toronto, Ont.: Postmedia Network, OCLC 1024108253, archived from the original on 25 January 2021:
      James Lindsay, an independent American critic of Critical Theory and Social Justice, who along with his partners Helen Pluckrose and Peter Boghossian, masterminded the “Grievance Studies Hoax,” in which they managed to get seven academic papers of critical theory and identity studies nonsense accepted for publication in scholarly journals, calls Critical Theory a "kafkatrap." If you deny that you are a witch, then you are a witch. And if you do not deny it, then you are a witch for sure.
    • 2020 September 25, Nicoli Nattrass; Jeremy Seekings, “UCT ‘says no to non-racialism’: A Freudian slip, or an embracing of the cult of ‘anti-racism’?”, in Daily Maverick[3], Cape Town; Johannesburg: Daily Maverick, OCLC 1117734205, archived from the original on 22 April 2021:
      David Edward Burke, for example, points out that her [Robin DiAngelo's] concept of "white fragility" is a "Kafkatrap" because it is an irrefutable theory: white people are either self-acknowledged racists (proving her theory true) or are denying it (displaying white fragility and therefor proving her theory true).

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Verb[edit]

Kafkatrap (third-person singular simple present Kafkatraps, present participle Kafkatrapping, simple past and past participle Kafkatrapped)

  1. (transitive) To employ a Kafkatrap against (someone).
    • 2010 July 18, Eric S[teven] Raymond, “Kafkatrapping”, in Armed and Dangerous[4] (blog), archived from the original on 19 December 2020:
      The aim of the kafkatrap is to produce a kind of free-floating guilt in the subject, a conviction of sinfulness that can be manipulated by the operator to make the subject say and do things that are convenient to the operator's personal, political, or religious goals. Ideally, the subject will then internalize these demands, and then become complicit in the kafkatrapping of others.
    • 2019 March 13, John Faithful Hamer, “How to Deal with a Progressive Bully”, in The Post Millenial[5], Montreal, Que.: The Post Millennial Corporation, archived from the original on 26 January 2021:
      Progressive bullies seem to delight in kafkatrapping, as it's their preferred strategy of attack in Social Media Land. So you should be prepared for it.
      May be regarded as a noun use.

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