by Jessica Pacholski
Many people clamor for “social justice,” they want a turn of the tide against the evils that have haunted humanity through the ages. This is a term I have never understood, mostly because it’s an impossibility. Justice is only applicable to individuals, since it can only be just to punish someone for their own actions. Social justice is a dragnet, in reality it punishes everyone for being part of society, whether they have committed a crime or not. How can a person be held responsible for crimes committed before they were born? They can’t, and what’s more there is no way to repay people for certain wrongs committed against their ancestors, such as slavery. How do you ever make that right?
There are no reparations for such heinous acts because those who were responsible and those who were injured are dead now and any hope for justice died with them. Punishing innocent people for the crimes of their grandfathers seems to me to be the opposite of justice, it seems more like a blood vendetta. When I hear people rant about societies ills I sometimes have to wonder if they think about what that truly means. Like most idealism, what sounds noble on the surface is really about control over others, the reality of the philosophy is hidden by the rhetoric even to those who preach it.
My first issue is with the term itself because society is an abstraction. The word “society” is usually used to define the group as everyone outside yourself. Because “society” is nothing more than a group of individuals that live together, the only way to protect the rights of “society” is to protect the rights of all the individuals who live within that society. It is impossible to protect the rights of everyone other than yourself or punish everyone other than yourself. There are many laws passed in the hope of achieving justice by according one group in society with special rights, however this usually comes at the expense at some other group. In fact this is the root of all injustice.
When Europeans came here and made laws that favored those males of European descent over those of women and men of other ethnicities, it created a system of special rights. This was obviously wrong, it is never an act of justice to claim rights that are not applicable to all. That is why I think repealing bad laws does more to bring equal protection to all individuals in society, regardless of who they are, without the negative of hurting others in the bargain.
This, however, is seldom the goal of activists who say they seek equal rights. In reality they seek “special” rights in the name of protection from the state. For example let’s look at The Hate Crimes Bill. Now on its face it seems benign enough and I agree that committing any act of violence against someone because they are “different”, such as gay bashing, is disgraceful and should be punished. However, the reality is that it punishes someone for their thoughts. It’s a thought crime bill in the final analysis. Now motive is always an element to a crime, but it is not a crime in itself.
The next issue is this, does it apply evenly or are some forms of hate more acceptable than others? If a woman kills a man for being male because she hates men, is she charged with a hate crime? Or is the law not applied because men are not, as a group, protected? In other words, are we ready to apply the same standards to each individual in the nation or are there unwritten limits? Political Correctness falls into this category too, are we ready to tell the gay community that the term “breeder” is derogatory? Or is it open season on heterosexuals? If we think we can ban hatred by curtailing freedom of expression, we are just fooling ourselves. Especially if we allow hatred against one group while professing to end hatred.
From what I have witnessed the activist groups in this country really are not interested in justice, what they are looking for is power. This is natural, people who have been oppressed often take on the tactics of those who oppressed them. They discount any criticism as being “racist” or “sexist” or whatever neat little label they can tag you with. This is how you silence dissent, no matter who is doing the silencing. It’s a tactic that shows their own biases usually.
Look at how many self proclaimed “feminists” slandered Monica Lewinsky because of their partisan loyalty to Clinton. People who are supposedly dedicated to the protection of the rights of women turned on her and made excuses for his behavior. They became the antithesis of what they were supposed to embody. They did this to protect their own power and in the long run set the women’s movement back about a hundred years. It’s the same with “Right to Life” groups who in their zeal to save lives advocate killing abortion doctors. Their own intentions are defeated when they endorse violence, their hypocrisy keeps real debate on the subject stifled. The fact that many of the Christian Conservatives in this country were the biggest cheerleaders for the War in Iraq further weakens their position in the public’s eye. You cannot be an advocate for life and war at the same time without some serious self delusion.
This is all a result of collectivist ideology, we versus them. Many movements start because of necessity, a grievance that must be redressed. Laws that exist that cripple one part of the citizenry should never be tolerated, however when these PAC’s and activist groups gain acceptance they start to be counterproductive and create an atmosphere of intolerance. If we want a healing of society, the same rules must to apply to everyone equally under the law. By trying to re-stack the deck the outcome is usually a backlash of resentment that ends up intensifying the problems they seek to do away with. Ideology starts to get in the way of reason and no one will listen to the other side. This is what hurts us the most, when we feel unfairly judged as part of a group or ally ourselves so heavily to one side of a debate that we cease to see others as individual human beings. We see each other simply as enemies.
Of course I know that most people who think there is such a thing as “social justice” are well meaning, I know they want what is right. However let’s look at the reality. I’m third generation American, none of my ancestors were involved in the slave trade at any level, how is it fair to lump them, and myself, into the group of Europeans who were? We didn’t victimize anyone; there is no blood on our hands, so I ask: Why should I or my family be judged for the crimes of others? Because I’m white? That seems more than a little racist to me. It’s the same story for the massacres against the Indians, my family all arrived here in the early 20th century to flee the rising tide of despotism and warfare in Europe. How are we culpable for murders perpetrated over a century before we arrived on American soil? We are not, not by any lawful standard that I can find. You cannot hold a man responsible for a murder committed by his father and you cannot hold one generation responsible for the crimes of the generations before them. This is the heart of all injustice.
For their to be justice in the world we must respect every human being as a sovereign individual and judge each on their own merits. It is the only way to peace and ultimately unity. Otherwise we will only further the cycle of hatred and injustice that we had hoped to end.