Someone, guilty of a wrongdoing, defends his position by reminding the accusing party that, at some point in time, s/he was guilty of the same wrongdoing too. This is instead of making an apology or a promise to change behavior in the future. What do we call such a discourse?

Speaker A: You treated the audience with disrespect (The guilty part does not deny the accusation)

Speaker B: Yes I did, but did you never do the same thing? (Suggesting that Speaker A isn't in a position to make accusations)

Now, I have considered using many phrases and expressions like "fault-finding," "blame game," "finger pointing," "cherry-picking," and "apologetics." While they are 'close' to what I want to say, they all roughly connote an act of defense by denying guilt and laying it on someone else (usually the accuser), as in "You did it, not me!" What I am looking for, however, is a word/phrase suggesting that the accused party indeed admits guilt, but tries to ameliorate his position by saying something like "Hey, but I am not the only one. You did it too."

  • Is it reproach you're looking for?
    – Vlammuh
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 11:27
  • @Sander: I thought of that one too. but "reproach", "admonition," and their similars still sound like "Not me, it is you!"
    – asef
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 11:35
  • 2
    Comparative Reasoning establishes the importance of something by comparing it against something else. The size of the gap between the things compared indicates importance. For my money, that means my transgression isn't important if you (and perhaps by implication many others) have done the same thing. Proverbially expressed as Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 11:38
  • The phrase turnabout is fair play is often used to justify a deliberate retaliatory act, but not as a simple excuse or deflection. Similarly payback.
    – bib
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 11:43

3 Answers 3


They would be committing a "tu quoque" logical fallacy, where they do not deny guilt, but attempt to mitigate criticism by pointing out that the accuser is also guilty.

Tu quoque (/tuːˈkwoʊkwiː/; Latin for "you, too" or "you, also") or the appeal to hypocrisy is an informal logical fallacy that intends to discredit the validity of the opponent's logical argument by asserting the opponent's failure to act consistently in accordance with its conclusion(s).

See also here and here.

  • 7
    @asef: I think an "Exactly!!!" with three exclamation points rather merits a check mark, don't you? Click the check mark and reward mike32 for helping you out.
    – Robusto
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 11:54
  • @Robusto I never noticed the check mark option before, and thank you so much for pointing that out. Indeed it merits a check mark and I just checked it. Thank you Mike32.
    – asef
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 18:46
  • @asef: That's why we go over this stuff. ^_^
    – Robusto
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 19:28

Since you have mentioned an "audience": in a televised debate, a common strategy is to attach negatives to one's opponent, and to offset negatives attaching to oneself by attaching the same negative (or an equally damaging one) to the opponent.

Mudslinging is a term used to describe this type of discourse.


People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

You should not criticize other people for having the same faults that you yourself have.

In your example,

Speaker A: You treated the audience with disrespect

Speaker B: People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

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