Kill Social Justice Popularity
It was Gawker (R.I.P.) who posted a lengthy, passionate rant about some social justice topic a few years back. The piece consisted of how a disparaged group was being mocked by a public official, and the need to voice our collective outrage to defend their right to basic human decency. I forget the exact context. What I remember was that the very next article was a video of Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion Lannister character from Game of Thrones mashed up to look like he was dancing to Skee-lo’s “I wish I was a little bit taller…”
It’s funny because I bet a dwarf wishes he was taller! Oh, internet!
Once I was able to prevent myself from dying of laughter I had a lot of questions. Isn’t a video making light of a character’s size difference, despite his character being one of the most kind and noble on the show, a very ableist attack on the fact that he happens to be a little person? It’s not as though the character is CGI, Peter Dinklage is a living, breathing respected actor who has won accolades for his performance in what is one of the most progressive depictions of a character with dwarfism in television history. Doesn’t a video of him dancing around like a monkey take from him his basic human dignity?
How does a person, or group of people, who espouse such a passionate belief in the right to various groups’ equality and dignity suddenly become the spitting image of a gaggle of mean-spirited bullies? Isn’t this hypocrisy?
Sadly, Social Justice in 2017 is an umbrella used to cover whatever causes have been embraced by a culture which values them as though they were a list of favorite bands. Don’t think so? Let’s play Social Justice “Where Are They Now”? Remember these hot causes?
Tibet — still not free
World Hunger — still an issue (sorry, Live Aid!)
AIDS in Africa — still rampant
Mumia Abdul Jamal — still in prison
G20 — still consolidating wealth and power
While the branding of causes as being notably important creates a great deal of awareness, it does little to impact the underlying importance of social justice, which is the rights and treatment of people. The fact that you’ve heard little of these causes since their halcyon days as being topics of interest lends a notion to the masses that these matters have been resolved. It also creates a vacuum in which the ‘anointed’ causes become such a focal point for The Left that anything which isn’t front-and-center must not require consideration (or in Dinklage’s case, sensitivity).
If all the Left ever does is cycle through a new Top 10 list of topics every decade (as it has been doing), nothing will really ever change. We need a movement whose primary cultural value puts people above platitudes, and it needs to extend to every group of people regardless of whether there’s a chicness to their cause or not. In fact, it should extend to every group of people regardless of political affiliation.
How does that start? Here’s a tip — If you’re treating a group in a way in which you would be horrified to see others treat a group you sympathize with, you are probably in the wrong. If you see a Trump supporter scared to lose their health insurance and you take joy in that, you’re also probably in the wrong. If you hear somebody who is part of a particular group of people personally tell you that they find something you’ve said about their group offensive, or insensitive, and you decide to argue that they need a sense of humor, you’re also probably in the wrong.
The common denominator? Treat people good.