5 Principles to Reform Social Justice Movements
The term "social justice" has almost become a slur, associated with radical activists known for acting like totalitarian bigots and screaming little children. But it need not be so. I would argue that when organizations like liberal churches and synagogues as well as secular humanist organizations describe themselves as committed to social justice, they're not saying they would support these people, these so-called "social justice warriors" being racist, sexist, obnoxious, combative, hateful, and just generally unpleasant and uncivil.
I've compared the radical feminists and SJWs to the medieval Catholic church before, and the metaphor works here too. In medieval times, there was the issue with overzealous Crusaders with a poor understanding of Christianity who, on their way to liberate the Holy Land, would make a few little stops along the way to try to kill Jews. The Popes did not support this, but had limited means to protect the Jews. So it is with social justice, I can sympathize that it's really hard for people who support social justice on principle to see it play out so pathologically in practice. It should never be this racist, this sexist, this much not only immoral, but in favor of immorality. Everyone can see it.
So is there a way to fix it? Obviously there's always going to be a place for social justice in society, we're always going to need people campaigning and protesting against human rights abuses and for a more tolerant, inclusive, and open-minded way of doing things. But to be quite frank, what is required first is to flush a lot of turds.
So here are 5 principles that I think, if social justice advocates adhered to, would make it more ethical and rational, and more effective.
1. No Baseless Accusations And Hatred
It's become quite vogue to call people, things, and ideas racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, and so on. This has turned people into a mob of witch hunters, burning people at the stake without a fair trial. It also results in the hypersensitive language policing, to where you can't say or do anything without being offensive, and being offensive is by itself considered evidence that you are wrong.
In feminist circles, it's become routine to not just accuse people of misogyny (the hatred of women) without a thought, but to make excuses for women to falsely accuse men of abuse, harassment, stalking, and even rape, or to redefine those terms to far beyond their legal meaning. This is done with organizational, financial motives. Feminist non-profit organizations, patreons, and kickstarters need donations, and they'll pretty much say anything to get those, including manipulating statistics to make it look like more women than men are victims of crime and poverty. (More on this in my second point.) Lies in the Bush years were what conservative pundits used to placate the people into believing the war in Iraq was justified. Now, lies are what liberal activists use to rile up the people into believing that there's sexism and racism in the drinking water.
This is bad not only because lying is unethical, but because all of these false accusations against people, like against Donald Trump of being a racist, or against Christina Hoff Sommers of being misogynist are weak arguments; they're not addressing what the other person is actually saying. They're just a way to silence, shame, bully, and turn the hate mobs against someone without showing any real understanding about what they're saying. All it does is make people less likely to like or trust what you have to say when you act like that, so please stop.
2. No Spreading Misinformation
Marxist propaganda is not fact. Some false feminist "statistic" from 30 years ago is not a fact. Only the most reliable and credible facts should be used to bolster your arguments and political agenda. Otherwise, you're just trying to build a bridge to Saturn, without the understanding of the reality of the situation (that what you're trying to do is physically impossible). You can't cure social ills with bad medicine, and good medicine requires research and thorough understanding. This means that you should be trying to develop a deep understanding of how all sides approach an issue, before forming your own opinion or getting emotionally reactive to those other opinions. Feelings are a good starting point for inquiry, but today they're too often used to shut down inquiry and debate.
Bad social science is the bane of social justice activism. Those who see the purpose of sociology as activism, not information gathering and cataloging, have typically done more harm than good. This is because they are doing social science to suit their preconceived beliefs about what society is and what it should be. It's like if I had a theory of botanical thinking that told me that it was not chlorophyll that made plants green, but the magic of season-changing fairies. They have Marxist theories that often contradict fact, assuming oppression exists even when it cannot be demonstrated to exist, their oppression is a botanist's fairy, that which is improvable, but which the academic researcher has already made it up in their mind that it must exist. Every change that takes place in a plant will be blamed by the bad botanist on the fairies, just like every social institution, group, and policy will be seen as part of an inherently racist, sexist, and homophobic system that doesn't exist.
Focus your effort and attention on thoroughly fact-checked sources, and conduct academic research into social problems with less preconceived biases, and you will sound less crazy and do more productive work, both in and out of academia.
3. No Harassing Public Speakers
Look, I get it. Nobody exactly likes having someone they see as a tool and whose politics they vehemently disagree with speak on their college campus. But that does not give you the right to disrupt their speech. Doing so is not only bad manners, but it shows that you lack a commitment to the principle of freedom of speech. If I could convince the SJW crowd of anything, it would be this: Your freedom of speech is not the freedom to censor. I want to repeat, your freedom of speech is not freedom to censor.
If you want to go hold signs outside of the rally of your political enemy, that's freedom of speech. If you go into the speaking event, cause a ruckus, take over the stage, or scream incoherently like a blubbering infant, that's not exercising freedom of speech. That's being rude and trying to stop people from exercising their freedom of speech. Some appallingly have started adopting the term "freeze peach" on the internet, mocking the very concept. The concept of freedom of speech in politics is extremely important. Without it, we don't really have a democracy, we have one ruling party that pushes its opinions on everyone else and silences the opposition. This bullying and dismissal of freedom of speech exists in unfree countries like China, but I doubt the SJWs doing it here would be interested in living there and seeing what it REALLY means when a country adopts a mocking attitude toward freedom of speech and freedom of political opinion. We can't get anywhere without allowing plurality in political opinion. If you don't like a speaker's point of view, don't go to their speech. It's pretty simple.
I live in Chicago, which is one of the most diverse places on Earth, and I like that diversity. But it also means that I will occasionally see people whose ideas and opinions I don't like, and tough titties, I have to put up with it anyway, because I am an adult, not a shrieking, tyrannical brat.
4. No Censorship on Social Media
You can argue that private internet companies are not the government, and therefore should not be beholding to the First Amendment. But the U.S. Constitution is, I would argue, not where rights come from. They are demanded by the people. If they cease to be fought for, argued for, and defended, they will disappear. We're seeing this happen on social media, not because the media companies are big into social justice (if they were they would recognize the importance of freedom of speech and the tolerance of civil debate as a necessity for a healthy, functional democracy), it's that they can't stand the idea of losing revenue to people who feel too "triggered" and "offended" (the term I prefer is "butthurt") by the mere existence of people who disagree with or dislike them on the internet!
5. No Support for Charlatans
This one is self-explanatory. Along with being rife with bad academics, this bad academics is often used by bad activists, who take people's crowd-funded money, use it to do diddly squat, and then complain that they're victims when they're in fact the bullies. Social justice should have no place for such parasites and takers. Too often, we see career-activists who do stuff that is very obnoxious and offensive, block dissenting comments and critical voices on social media, and then cry to everyone who will listen about how they're victims. Real social justice activism, in my opinion, is not about you personally, it's about the world as a whole. Isn't it suspicious then when so many social justice activists (who are making good money at it) make it about themselves? Hm.
So, there's good and bad social justice activism. And arguing against the shameful present state of affairs with social justice does not make me opposed to it in principle, nor am I opposed to certain historical figures who championed causes like abolitionism or women's suffrage in the past. But supporting a cause doesn't mean you have to agree with everything other people supporting that cause do, obviously. I will never support people who make themselves rich while pretending to be oppressed, or people who trample the rights of others while pretending to be in favor of justice. Here's to the hope that we can have a peaceful, equitable, and ethical future for liberal activism? Is that too much to ask for? Can we all just get along?