As it seems to be, a Facebook meme got me to thinking. It showed a group of adorable children in a classroom and said something like, “Instead of teaching our children to stand for anthems and pledges, we teach them to stand for social justice.” I started thinking about what is justice and who gets to decide it? The easy answer would be – justice is obvious, but is that true? Especially, in these times where the concept of morality is changing and those advocating for change are so vocal?
What is justice? Who gets to define it in common use?
It seems to me the concept of justice that evolved from the ancient “eye for an eye” of the old testament, to “equality under the law;” is now evolving again into something where equality is far less important than conformity with some ubiquitous social standard. As in most things, we will eventually come around to the role of government and control of its resources.
But first a note from our founders:
Alexander Hamilton, writing in Federalist papers 78-83 laid out his and others views of the necessity of an independent judiciary to resolve conflict between conflicting laws and as a check to the abuses of power by the Executive and the Legislative branches. His views represent the dominate view of the our judicial system as it has matured over the past 200 years or so.
We often forget there were those who opposed this Constitution of ours, and Brutus writing in the Anti-Federalist papers argued the judiciary should be under the control of those who write the law, for it is their job to meter it out. Brutus holds an interesting position on the independent judiciary, and it is remarkably similar to those who argue today that the independent judiciary is rewriting the laws to reflect their personal agenda rather than the intent of the law makers. So, we see his concern played out in our courts today, but that said – who among us would trade the safeguards of an independent judiciary for one that could not check the abuses of either the legislative or executive branches?
Now back to my regularly scheduled opinion:
Although the media will represent the legions of social justice warriors as a dominate voice, in actuality how many of them are there, and is social justice their true purpose, or a useful tool?
To gain some sort of perspective on a number I will use data from the Department of Education, for FY 2014[i], detailing the total post high school student population in the US. According to the department it tops out at just over 20 million students. This includes full time, part time, undergraduate and post graduate students. While voices of this freedom limiting social-justice movement extend beyond the campus, I believe it is reasonable to assume a significant number of college students are not involved as activists, and may not even provide passive support, but let’s assume they are all supportive, and would roughly equal the number of post college activists.
The question then becomes who forms the leadership that sets the agendas these students advocate for. The young are not, for the most part, the great thinkers who’ve decided what issues need to be rallied against, or what needs to be quietly swept under the rug. For this number, let me turn to the Department of Labor and assume all the leadership comes from, or equals the total number of college professors. The bureau of labor statistics notes in 2014 there were 1,313,000[ii] positions with a growth rate of 13%. So again, for argument, let’s assume a 10% addition, or roughly 2.0 million additional activists nationwide who are the brains behind the outrage. Personally, I think this number is high based on normal distribution of leadership within traditional organizations, but as everyone is fond of pointing out this is a “grassroots” movement so there is that. That brings the total number of active participants in this socially limiting movement to about 25 million, out of a population of 317 million residents in 2014, or roughly 8% of our nation.
With this as a foundation, let’s talk about what the social justice is not and what it is. It is not about equality and civility. In, what some would view, as an ideal world we would all be brilliant. Looks wouldn’t matter, our opinion of our own self-worth would be unaffected by outside influences, we would all respect the roles of our fellow humans, and we would all strive to get along as equals. Unfortunately, for us the ideal world we live in is far different than the mythical one. We are not all brilliant, we are more often critical of others as we excuse our own failures, we set artificial definitions of beauty, we look down on those we don’t view as peers, and when possible we seek power and/or wealth. It seems to me this mantra of “social justice” plays into the baser instincts of those who yell loudest about it. Is it really about justice, or is it about power and control? If you can control the language you can control the debate, if you can control the debate you can limit the speech, if you limit the speech you can force conformity. At the end of the day it is about control, isn’t it? But control of what?
That is a question for another day.