Hidden provocation

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Hidden provocation is when an individual or group is provoked in some way that is not apparent to others, resulting in what appears to be an overreaction but in fact is entirely reasonable. This apparent overreaction can then in turn be used for further attack, based on the idea tha the group or individual just wants "special treatment" or "attention".

The mainstream media are often complicit in concealing the provocation, as they will typically focus on the "overreaction" rather than a systemic problem which is causing that reaction, thus helping to maintain the status quo.

Examples include:

  • black people being disproportionately harrassed, arrested, and killed by police
    • white people are generally not aware of this, and may be persuaded that organizations like Black Lives Matter are advocating for "special treatment"
  • LGBT people being similarly attacked by right-wing groups and individuals who have become swayed by counterfactual right-wing arguments
    • Hetero-cis people are generally not aware of these attacks, and may become persuaded that initiatives to grant LGBT people equal rights (e.g. gay marriage) are demands for "special treatment".
  • women being covertly pinched or groped repeatedly in public spaces (e.g. subways)
  • women being covertly harassed in the workplace by individuals with authority over them, or with the tacit permission of such individuals
    • ...making it necessary to go outside of the workplace (into a sphere which is generally unaware of the abuse) in order to complain
  • unemployed and homeless people


  • Engineered provocation is a carefully-planned form of hidden provocation typically involving larger entities such as countries
  • Extremist provocation is a deliberate (and typically reprehensible) overreaction to a perceived affront to a given group, resulting in hatred against said group even though the majority of that group may strenuously oppose the actions in question.
  • Fair world fallacy