Created By: Hadashi on May 17, 2012 Last Edited By: Hadashi on June 1, 2013

Manipulative Public Speaker

Basically Professor Umbrage or any other dictator

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A variety of public speaking formats, many or all of which see regular use in Real Life, in which the speaker engages in obvious manipulation and use of Weasel Words while addressing an audience. This comes in a variety of major flavours and sub-flavours:

Type 1, The Umbridge: What the speaker says is essentially true but phrased on a way that is intended to mislead and sugar-coat what they are actually saying. Be prepared to listen to them a couple of times and wade through a lot of Weasel Words before you get to what they really mean.
Umbridge: "The Ministry of Magic has always considered the education of young witches and wizards to be of a vital importance. Although each headmaster has brought something new to this... historic school, progress for the sake of progress must be discouraged. Let us preserve what must be preserved, perfect what can be perfected and prune practices that ought to be... prohibited!"

Type 2, The exception-maker: In this type the speaker pledges absolute support for some sort inviolable concept or action (such as free speech)....except in this one little instance they are about to detail where trampling all over it it is completely necessary, justified, and in no way hypocritical at all. You all understand right? We don't really want to but our hand is forced (etc). Taking this speaker at their word means engaging in Double Think.
Dictator: ""

Generally made by a Manipulative Bastard. Often the lead-in to some sort of Villain Speech, rant, or Author Tract. With large helpings of Insane Troll Logic and Card Carrying Villainy.

Compare Immediate Self-Contradiction.

Rule of Cautious Editing Judgement applies.


  • Harry Potter is, of course, riddled with this kind of thing in the later books, as the quote from Umbridge suggests.
Community Feedback Replies: 15
  • May 17, 2012
    Monsters Vs Aliens:"I come in peace; you are all going to die".

  • May 18, 2012
    In the Novelty Song "Star Trekkin'" by The Firm, Captain Kirk's line is "We Come In Peace Shoot To Kill."
  • May 18, 2012
    I've added them for now since I think this could well be split into two tropes, but I think you are mistaking my meaning here. I don't mean people who speak in a contradictory manor, I mean people who give speeches using the format above. It's actually something that happens in Real Life
  • May 18, 2012
  • May 19, 2012
    You're going to need an example to make the distinction clear, and the one that's coming to my mind isn't much of one.
  • May 19, 2012
    Ok, I've kinda been letting the other interpretation slide for a while now in the hope I could split it off as a second trope, but I'm just going to have to come out and say that I don't think any of you have really read the trope description.

    Type 2 isn't about a character contradicting themselves mid-speech (as in Immediate Self Contradiction), it's about them (Particularly people like politicians and dictators) assuring a group of people that they support widely held values, then (without any irony at all) proving they don't. If this were a subtrope of anything it would be Manipulative Bastard more than Immediate Self Contradiction since the person is doing it very deliberately as a form of Weasel Wording.

    I do have a good Real Life example of this in action but it is a nasty one that I'm not keen to post as a first example but I'm pretty sure that Nixon has also done this at some point.

  • May 19, 2012
    0k, I've expanded this to make it easier to add examples.
  • June 1, 2012
  • June 1, 2012
    Demagogue? That's what this basically is right?

    And this should probably be No Real Life Examples Please
  • June 3, 2012
    Hmmm, I dunno, what's one of those?
  • June 6, 2012
    I think we could have RL Examples if it was, say someone like Hitler or Nixon, but we would have to be firm on it....
  • June 1, 2013
    Attempting to resurrect this.

    A Demagogue "incites the mob". He inflames emotions like fear (Think Of The Children, etc) or nationalistic or religious fervor rather than using logical arguments. This was pretty much what Hitler ran on -- Mein Kampf is a classic study. It's most commonly associated with tyrants and Torches And Pitchforks, but in Real Life almost every political figure needs to engage in at least a little of it.

    This is How Did We Miss This One BIG time.

    Anyway Hadashi, Ima take this over unless you have objections.
  • June 1, 2013
    This looks tropeworthy to me. I think that it needs Real Life examples, but they need to be seriously historical (as in, at least Hitler-era old) in order to avoid probable trope flame wars.

    Language also needs to be in passive voice and worded diplomatically, for example, "most/many/some people believe that X was..." instead of flat out stating "X was...". "It is generally believed..." is also good.

    As a general rule, one-sided real-life examples should be avoided unless the historical facts are clear, widely known and unambiguous.
  • June 1, 2013
    This also needs the type labels removed.

  • June 1, 2013