On Social Justice

With such a lofty title I must first warn the reader that in no way will the heading be attained or met. Instead, I would like to spend the next few hundred words pondering the term Social Justice. If I were a scholar I might discuss the origins of the term and it’s historical growth till the present day. My preference — and for lack of time — is to approach the term as it presently stands in public discourse.

Social Justice is a term often used in parallel to Human Rights and the like, terms to discuss those “universal” crimes being inflicted on people across the globe. Social Justice, a term used primarily on the Left in American politics, refers to those self-evident (to the individual decrying them) crimes that should be stopped and punished. By some, hate speech is considered a crime worthy of justice, but due to the First Amendment it must be pursued in the guise of Social Justice. Similar to “Human Rights” it is a term that is largely not applicable because it carries with it such a loose definition so as to never be established nor carried out. And what a populist term it is, suggesting that society (not from established rule or law) is to dictate the rules and laws which one must live by. How ever-changing such justice would be.

A similar idea of generic rights, given to all mankind, plagued the thoughts of our forefathers. They decided to attribute these inalienable rights to God. However, they did not rely on God to enforce them but instead set up a system of law and government to establish them. There are many rights that simply would not exist were it not for a government or body politic to set them up and enforce them.

To discuss Social Justice and Human Rights violations would lead to a very difficult and abstract conversation when it is not rooted in philosophy. The philosophy of Social Justice in its present state is ill-defined and poorly argued. Even if it were established in a philosophical and principled manner it would still be impossible to apply (unless through illegal activity) until it was made into law by the nation that governs said people.

I would issue a warning to watch for terms like “Social Justice,” “Human Rights,” and other generic “Rights” and governing principles. The truth of the matter is that many rights are not yours unless granted to you from or defended by a ruling authority (positive and negative rights).

These pontifications are a great injustice to the topic, but they may still be worth pondering. Why are terms like “Social Justice Warrior” held as badges of honor? What is their definition of Social Justice? How do they plan to enforce this new, self-proclaimed, law? Do they wish to take legal action or is this justice so important as to surpass the justice set up by the governing authority? What is the underlying philosophy?

In 2014 Rolling Stone released a news story about a rape on a college campus in the states. The story was praised by those in favor of Social Justice as a great attack on the supposed rape-culture that plagues our nation. This praise was given even though the claims were not substantiated and the entire story was a crapshoot. The story was proven false, yet the young men who were targeted will not get back those years destroyed by a fake story, written hastily in the name of Social Justice.

The Founders laid out what they believed inalienable rights were and why. It would be good if those Social Justice Warriors did the same.

Originally published at www.holmeslybrand.com on December 15, 2016.