Every so often one needs to make a determined effort to get to the truth of something.
This may be because the target of one's inquiries is evasive or obstructive, or it may be because they have systems or defences in place which deter or frustrate investigation and scrutiny.
Invariably such a target does not provide a full answer to one's straightforward questions.
In such circumstances, one has to be persistent.
However, when such doggedness (which can yield rewards) is under the full glare of social media, there is often a reaction against one's efforts.
There will be those who will become more concerned about the one asking the questions than the target of those questions.
These third parties will say how they don't think those questions should be asked, or why think other questions should be asked, or that no questions should be asked at all.
This may be because that third party is a partisan for the target; or it can be that the third party simply cannot be bothered to understand what is at stake, but wants to say something anyway.
Sometimes, though not always, the third parties may have a point.
But what is common in each case is that they are more critical of the questioner (or the line of questioning generally) than they mind the target not answering the questions.
This type of behaviour can be regarded as "fussing". By this one means that they appear to have a misplaced concern about something.
And if they are fussing then this allows us to use the splendid word "fusspot" to describe them.
Indeed, we can even use "fusspottery" instead of "fussing" to describe the phenomenon.
There appears to be four primary kinds of fusspottery.
This is the simple response of a third party to inquiry [x] of "what about [y]?".
Here [y] may have some or no connection with [x], but it shows that the fusspot is more concerned with something other than inquiry [x].
This is another simple response of a third party to inquiry [x]. This response, however, does not even go the effort of positing an alternative concern. As such it can be regarded as a lazier form of Whataboutery.
Here the fusspot is seeking to discredit or dismiss the efforts of the one posing inquiry [x], usually because the fusspot cannot be bothered (or is unable) to work the significance of inquiry [x] but wants to emit a noise.
A related form of Sowhatery is Iamboredery.
This is for the advanced sort of fusspot.
Here the potential truth of inquiry [x] is conceded (even if the target has not admitted or denied it), but before there is even any question is even answered by the target, the fusspot is giving assurances that its significance is limited.
For Notahangingoffencery to be a genuine form of fusspottery it has to take place before the questions are answered.
Often the sophisticated fusspot will combine Notahangingoffencery with other forms of fusspottery, as in "So what if [x] is true, it is not a hanging offence".
For the fusspot, the allegation of there being a "witchhunt" is merely that they have noticed that inquiry [x] has had to be repeated and the target of the inquiry has not provided an answer.
Here the fusspot cannot distinguish between a determined effort to get to the bottom of something and a fondly remembered scene from Monty Python or The Crucible.
The allegation of witchuntery is thereby used in the attempt to make those asking a question feel very bad about themselves about not just accepting the lack of an answer. As such, the questioners are the ones most at fault.
The analysis above only goes to the responses to questions; it does not go to those reacting against others demanding some sanction ("you must apologise" or "you must be sacked") or those who are just being abusive.
Genuine fusspottery is about someone criticising the questioner, rather than criticising the target for not answering the question.
Fusspots are not necessarily wrong: sometimes there is the lack of perspective or importance that warrants fusspottery; sometimes a demand for sanctions or forms of abuse should be criticised even if in the form of questions. (These are usually rhetorical questions.)
As such, fusspottery should not be discouraged.
But if one finds oneself commenting adversely on someone seeking the answers to questions, rather on the target for not answering those questions, than it may be that there is fusspottery about.
And anyone can be a fusspot sometimes.
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