People who are challenged by journalists, politicians or the public have take to responding by accusing the challenger of a sin against proper language - you're sexists or racist or transphobic or just plain patronising. Such a response shifts the discussion away from the substance of the debate focusing instead on what words are being used in the debate. Here, from nannying fussbucket in chief, Dame Sally Davies:
Dame Sally was questioned about the nannying claims by Mr Robinson.The story becomes Nick Robinson's language rather than whether or not it is "nannying" to issue guidance to parents on limiting screen time (what this has to do with the chief medical officer god alone knows). Dame Sally's question is unanswerable because we only have one chief medical officer and she is (if I'm still allowed to say this) a woman.
He asked her: "You always have this question, so I know you are familiar with it - this balance you have to get between nannying on the one hand, or being accused of it at least, and on the other hand banality, stating things that are obvious."
Dame Sally shot back: "I thought you were going to be sexist."
Robinson asked, "What bit of that is sexist?" and Dame Sally replied: "I wonder whether you would say to a male chief medical officer..."
Over recent times public health people have become really sensitive about being called 'nannies' - Duncan Selbie, the boss of Public Health England famously denied (despite backing sugar taxes, smoking bans, minimum unit pricing and a host of other interventions into people's choices) being a nanny:
It’s important not to say we are into nannyism. That winds me up because I never had a nanny in my life. It’s too important to leave it to the state. This is about individuals.It seems to me that saying it's 'nannying' to boss the public around, lecture them about their 'bad' habits and treat them as pariahs is both accurate and guaranteed to wind up public health people. Mostly because they know it's what lots of people think. Dame Sally, Mr Selbie and all the others really are nannying fussbuckets.