In the discussion of the “Social Justice Warrior” concept, I said I liked the term “Social Justice Zealot” as a pejorative because it implies “going too far” whether that is exaggeration, lying, twisting language or reportage, etc.
I was accused of the “No True Scottsman” fallacy: that I’m saying no SJW would do such a thing. And that is simply wrong. I’m saying that only the denotative definition of a term like “Social Justice Warrior” is honest: “a person willing to fight for what they believe is just and right in society.” In the set of such people, some will be to the Left, some to the Right. Some will tilt at windmills, others at real social problems. Some will act honorably and intelligently, others dishonorably and stupidly.
To say otherwise would be to say “all warriors are good. Someone who does a bad thing is therefore not a warrior.” Nonsense. “Bad” or “Evil” warriors are a sub-set of Warriors. Just as “good” or “bad”, honorable or dishonorable “SJWs” are sub-sets of “SJWs”. “Social Justice Zealot” would describe someone who is in a sub-set of the category “SJW”, and behaving badly. Those bad behaviors SHOULD be examined.
The truth is that people tried to criticize the entire category of people willing to stand up for what they believe in this sense, and twist a more general category into a very specific box: “Lefties who act badly.” That’s nice, but since they did not provide an equivalent term for Righties who act badly in the defense of their social dreams, or Lefties who fight for those dreams honorably, I’m going to say that this is an attempt to twist language, to stop people from thinking, by having a convenient tar-brush.
Complain about something you perceive as being a social injustice? Someone who disagrees simply labels you a “SJW” thereby ending the discussion: it isn’t a discussion of whether your tactics are appropriate or inappropriate, just CARING makes you this bad person. End of conversation. I’ve seen Leftists use similar tactics: it is a common rhetorical device, but I call shennanigans.
The problem is that the irony is head-spinning. Here are people who believe the world is being warped by those who want to disrupt or change the current order, or have damaged it already. In other words, they are concerned with social issues. And by engaging and arguing they are fighting for what they believe to be a better world they are, in essence SJWs. But by only using that term for their political opponents, and only associating negative actions to it, they are Orwelling the hell out of the issue, saying “we can define these three words to mean this negative thing, and then drop anyone we want into that category.”
Well, you can in your own mind, sure. But if you do, you are being incredibly hypocritical, because you are being exactly what you are criticizing: someone fighting for what they believe is a better social world, using manipulative and dishonest tactics.
I am happy to be a SJW. So is my wife Tananarive. And her family. And many of my friends. If you have an issue with some specific cause I support, or tactic I use, please feel free to question or criticize me about it. But you have precisely the right to define me (“you’re not a SJW, Steve!”) that I have to define you. No more, no less.
My rules for SJWs are simple, and overlap with my rules for life. I don’t care which side of the political divide you are on, so long as you are willing to see my humanity and present your thoughts courteously and honestly.
- Love yourself
- Love at least one other person.
- Develop an understanding of human psychology that allows you to understand our history without guilt, blame, or shame.
- Create your tribe. Stop trying to convince other people to change, but respect their “inwardness” and rights. Remember that you’ve been wrong before, and will be again. Be kind and honest in communication. But don’t take any shit, either.
- Succeed. Be the change you wish to see in the world, and let the world see your results. If they are positive, it is reasonable to “scale up” your actions. This is why, for instance, I ask Libertarians to let me see the largest functioning Libertarian society, so that I can judge their results. Success is its own Marketing department.
Nothing in these five steps implies much of a political tilt that. I know people on all sides of issues who are loving and wise about the flow of human history. And those on all sides who are hateful and fearful. Politics isn’t my core concern: “how can we live together?” is. “Who are we?” is. “What is true?” is. Far more basic.
Anyway: that’s my position. Nothing else. If you want to demonize a phrase to make political leverage, you’ll have to do it on your own threads. Period. If you want to discuss rules of engagement, what would make one a Positive or Negative warrior for a cause you believe in, you are welcome. Want to discuss “what is true?” you are welcome. But you will find no support for the notion that a single side in this argument possesses all or most of the “good” in humanity. That is simply politically manipulative b.s.