There’s a whole range of phrases that aren’t doing the jobs you think they’re doing. ... A stunning dearth of comprehension from someone who prefaces their cluelessness with “I hear what you’re saying”? And has “I’m not a racist, but...” ever introduced an unbiased statement? These contrary-to-fact phrases have been dubbed “but-heads,” because they’re at the head of the sentence, and usually followed by but. The point of a but-head is to preemptively deny a charge that has yet to be made, with a kind of “best offense is a good defense” strategy. This technique has a distinguished relative in classical rhetoric: the device of procatalepsis, in which the speaker brings up and immediately refutes the anticipated objections of his or her hearer.