My prompt. In the hope of facilitating better understanding in a lowish confrontational manner, what follows are the slightly tongue-in-cheek, slightly stern thoughts of someone on the other side of “social justice.”
- I too never have been on Tumblr. Sounds like a scary place where I would have my online head rended from my cyber shoulders and put on a pike as a prop for social justice selfies and other revels from the culture wars. I do have Facebook and Twitter accounts, but I’m pretty much comatose on them. With that said, I probably should revive myself and reconnect with some peeps from college I dearly miss.
- As a peer-proclaimed racist, sexist, homophobe, xenophobe, Islamophobe, transphobe, all-around horrible person, who’s among the worst of the worst — the proverbial villainous lord of social injustice to the gallant social justice warrior in the fairy tale narrative — I do find it insulting to be decried as the scourge of the earth. No one likes being the subject of slander. In accordance with my view, minorities are undoubtedly human beings worthy of respect. I just disagree with the self-appointed “experts” and their advocacy as to what’s truly best for these people’s participation in our democracy. Additionally, I emphatically disagree that everyone must comply by the dubious “wisdom” of these “enlightened” “visionaries” on these matters, especially from my perspective, after all the stupefying rhetoric is stripped away, the only reason to adhere to their dogmas precisely amounts to the triviality that they’re the ones who hold them, which of course is no legitimate reason at all.
- Every time I’m chastised for not being “respectful” but “hateful,” failing to “check my privilege,” not “treating others like humans,” i.e. not being politically correct (PC), I shrug. Sure, there is a small sting from being slandered, but that subsides.
- What remains after enduring a self-serving semantic cudgel is the absence of any real meaning in the epithet. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m “racist,” but so apparently are the Oscars, that Super Bowl Prius commercial, criticizing Cam Newton and Bing Crosby’s “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.” There’s individual acts of racism like slurs, but also “institutional,” “structural” and “systemic” racism as well as “cultural oppression.” Yet, no effort is made from activists to distinguish between or define all these evils. We get it: Everything is racist from the bottom up; injustice is comprehensively sewn in the fabric of society. As a consequence, apart from the moral obtuseness of freaking out at perceived slights as “violence” normatively equivalent to the physical variety we usually associate with the word, all this overuse and linguistic stretching renders the term “racist” and others like it useless as descriptive labels of meaning. Instead, voided of semantic content, they have become merely prescriptive bludgeons of use, deployed to sabotage honest deliberation between disagreeing parties. As such, remedying injustice actually suffers because much of our civil lexicon is now defunct and non-descriptive. It doesn’t describe or indicate anything — perhaps expect one’s moral approval or disapproval of something — and if we can’t describe and accurately identify injustice, we can’t address it nor resolve issues birthed from it. “Bigotry/bigots,” “sexism/sexists” and “racism/racists” etc. are tokens of a very much valueless currency. As such, they are thrown as if business transactions have functionally devolved to individuals chucking coins, which no longer work like legal tender, as projectiles at one another. Sure, getting struck hurts, but the discomfort is minimal, while the act itself is an exercise in maximal puerility and futility. I strongly suspect this is the dysfunctional state of dialectical exchange in our “marketplace of ideas.”
- Abuse of these terms also anesthetizes people to more virulent and empirical injustices and problems, while demeaning those who had to and do suffer them. For example, you’re for same-sex marriage, but how does that exactly curb domestic violence, eating disorders and substance abuse for homosexuals? Likewise, is getting Dan Snyder to rename the Washington Redskins some type of silver bullet for ending alcoholism and widespread poverty in Native American communities? Moreover, deriding Israel as an “apartheid state” — it’s not, by the way, as Israeli Arabs are enfranchised and integrated citizens — degrades the experience of Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks and other blacks who underwent Jim Crow, “separate but equal” and other similar-styled segregation in apartheid societies.
- Thusly, it’s amusing for me to see social justice warriors strut with a moral ascendancy and act as if observing PC orthodoxy is tantamount to “treating others as human beings.” Social justice analysis depends on categorizing people into groups or classes, fundamentally removing from them individuality and agency, phenomena that shouldn’t be flippantly dismissed from the human existential equation. Therefore, according to this framework, one is not a person able to forge his or her own path, bearing responsibility for one’s choices, but a victim or beneficiary of external deterministic forces beyond his or her control, nameless members in masses of blackness, whiteness, gayness, masculinity, femininity, etc. that are pitted against one another. One’s virtue in such conflicts is vicariously obtained from which group one is identified with. There are no complex individuals but statistics, urges or impulses. This seems like the dehumanization of people not the liberation thereof and all the while a perversion of the primary lesson of the civil rights movement: to be judged not by the content of one’s character but by the color of one’s skin or another superficial feature. Hence, as per 2, 3.1 and 3.2, social justice warrior confidence in their magnanimity seems to be largely unfounded and unearned. The views underlying it are just dubbed as “social justice,” and those who oppose their implementation are hastily ascribed as sociopaths. Calumny stemming from severe partiality for one’s own view hardly indicates foresight and rectitude but rather narcissistic shortsightedness and moral deficit.
- I agree that 7 billion people simultaneously can accomplish highly differentiated tasks of social importance. But it’s silly worrying about “privilege” — another term defined so broadly as to be useless and is only utilized to stigmatize any opposition, i.e. “check your privilege” — as morally more problematic than the actual empirical crises that defy mainstream media attention. It’s hard to see that demanding the removal of a bust of Thomas Jefferson from campus to combat white privilege and “cultural oppression,” for example, does anything to induce more black teenagers to graduate high school. Then why is this quixotic gesture a moral hill to die on? For mine eyes, it and other similar displays serve no greater purpose than further romancing a thoroughly inane cause, emotional masturbation for those delusional enough to believe in such grandstanding. Again, see 3.2.
- Neither am I a hippie nor an emotional wreck. I too have my issues, but I also try to be open-minded despite some of my polemics. I acknowledge that I’m ignorant on many subjects and concede the possibility I could be wrong in these matters. Ironically, I’m deemed emotionally stunted and psychoanalyzed as having irrational fears and prejudices for holding my views. It does not matter that I’ve tried to justify them with arguments — vehicles of reason and rationality. Historically, bigots tend not to attempt to reason with those they oppress and hate. They tend to sic dogs on or loose concussive torrents via firehose upon those they find subhuman.
- I must admit: I find trigger warnings to be the height of infantility. Pace our social justice warrior and her rather difficult-to-follow stream of conscious, they are not the equivalent to mere ratings of TV and film for a couple of reasons. Firstly, 18-year-olds, “adults” use them to censure both themselves and others in places like college where one is supposed to be exposed to ideas and worldviews that not only are different but perhaps are an anathema to one’s own sensibilities. Trigger warnings don’t preserve child-like innocence but perpetuate petulance instead of intellectual and emotional maturity. Secondly, trigger warnings are not stamped on truly inflammatory documents. Yes, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn feature slavery and “nigger,” but Twain’s classic is a literary case against slavery and racism. Likewise, Kant’s Critiques can be described as many things: A “Copernican” revolution, as I’m sure the sage of Koningsberg would have wanted, or boring to the typical philosophy undergrad. “Triggering,” however, is not among them and putting such a disclaimer on his work is asinine because Kant, who lived in the now extinct Prussia, could not abide by today’s PC categorical imperatives in his prose as he was blissfully unaware of them.
- On the contrary, I don’t hate anyone — even progressives with their benighted views — and I don’t feel any internal struggle to maintain such a demeanor. End of story. Though, as it’s very telling, this rant of a confession from my counterpart here really reads like psychological projection. For instance, on anti-feminists: “…it’s like they’re trying to be social pariah. Like, seriously. MRAs? Let’s insult as many people as possible and see how long it takes everybody to realise we’re nothing more than a hate group.” Now, I wouldn’t consider myself a men’s rights activist, as the justification behind the notion that men are really the oppressed ones uses just the same sort of broken analysis radical feminists rely upon, legitimizing the toxic methodology, yet the movement is the inevitable backlash to the type of intolerance so described. In other words, modern feminism, take a hard look in the mirror.
- Yes, I too have biases, but speaking for my bigoted self, I would never start from the assumption that, as a theist and social conservative, I’m predisposed against atheists qua atheists, feminists qua feminists or even social justice warriors qua social justice warriors, etc. Rather, I’m partial against atheism as a metaphysical position and feminism and other ideologies for “social justice” as philosophies and political movements. Obviously, there is a critical difference between the person and the view. So, I find it striking that this distinction seemingly is nonexistent for our social crusader here. As a professed atheist, feminist, LGBT activist, she is not biased against forms of theism, anti-feminism and traditional opinions on sexuality but against theists and those who are critical of feminism and have traditional view of sexuality. Her opposition is against people not positions. She does not distinguish between the two and cannot help but personalize things which are fundamentally not persons. Also note, she frames one debate as being only between two poles — feminists and non-feminists; there is no third option. Furthermore, she admits to wrestling with hatred against those she disagrees with and expresses what seemingly is irrational prejudice against heterosexuals. Again, all this is very telling, and thusly, I have reservations that she is fully aware of her bias. Now, how much of this Freudian slip is her being quirky with her writing? I don’t know, as much of what follows is rambling, but it’s in contrast to her proclamation of being “too logical.” One thing is for certain: These confessions, like many social justice manifestos, belie incoherence.
- I will “check my privilege” just as soon as social justice warriors “check their privilege” — the freedom to slander people without the fear or reality of suffering the social reproach it warrants. As per 3.1 and 4, this phrase is meaningless as it isn’t a description but a moral condemnation intent on beating possible ideological dissidents into line. Pray tell, should the black teenager living with two married parents check that privilege for the sake of the other 70% that don’t? Should said teenager prostrate him or herself in self-flagellation to the white trash, trailer park kid growing up with a single mother? After all, coming from an intact home is one of the most reliable metrics of individual success and financial independence.
- This term spurs further questions: How exactly does privilege or lack thereof confer de facto moral inferiority or superiority to such a person being who that person is? How is this is-ought gap crossed? Why should being white make me feel guilty? How is this blatant racist attitude justified? We’re equal, yes, in metaphysical worth, but variously unequal in physical and material terms. Naturally, some people are tall. Some are short. Many are average in height. Some are good-looking; some are ugly, but most people find mates. A few are rich; more are poor, but there’s also many who fall in between. There are the smart, the average and the gratuitously stupid. Each person is a composition of a myriad of these type of traits and can’t be merely reduced to a couple of them for accurate character evaluation. Anyway, I think you’re getting what I’m digging at. The concept of privilege, as referring to any unearned benefit from being who one is, is found to be so commonplace, so trivial, it describes nothing in particular, while the particulars its theorists do fixate on, e.g. sex, gender, skin color, weight, sexual orientation, etc., are too few and often too superficial to provide a comprehensive explanation as to why person A is well off while person B isn’t. Privilege is therefore descriptively useless. All that’s left is for it be another semantic bludgeon, but it remains very much a mystery to me as to why there should be any normative weight behind its swing.
- Of course we should avoid being hurtful and unnecessarily offending people. However, the problem is subjective grievance has become the basis of allocating millions of tax payer dollars at universities and making broad policy decisions for us all. The personal has become public. So, while we ought be courteous in our individual interactions, and I don’t doubt that social justice warriors nurse genuine hurt feelings, these aren’t nearly sufficient as reasons to cater to their large-scale demands. If they really want to have a conversation about race, the alleged patriarchy and such, they need substantially to invoke something more objective than anecdotal personal experience and outrage to change the world for the better. But if my above thoughts haven’t made it evident, I believe them to be incapable of the task. It’s not so much that I’m not unwilling to consider their case for “social justice,” but that I already have, and it frankly sucks.
Ah, it feels good to clear my conscious,