Monday, December 5, 2011

Is "social justice" just?

Return with me now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. When I was in college “social justice” meant the equality of opportunity. Blacks wanted an equal opportunity to attend the University of Georgia rather than being denied admission based solely on race. The university insisted that there were no qualified blacks applicants. I have heard some people whine about EEO saying that the blacks hired will be looked down upon by the whites because if it were not for EEO they would not be there. Give me a break. Can you imagine the pressure we first blacks at Georgia were under where the other students thought “well if the courts had not ordered their admission, they would not be here on merit.” Some thought that some of us had chips on our shoulders – mine was a 2x4. My attitude was “lets see if anyone in here is smarter than I am.” Virtually all of us who graduated from there in the 1960s were high achievers with terminal degrees and of the first two admissions, one is a Pulitzer prize winner and the other was and orthopedic surgeon and hospital CEO.

Now social justice is less defined amalgamating into whatever the utterer means. Like all of us I hear the words “social justice” bandied about. Everyone nods their heads thinking they know what that means – except me. I haven’t a clue what is meant by “social justice”. So I proceeded to google it. There is a clear definition found in the Center for Economic and Social Justice's website. It is "Social justice encompasses economic justice. Social justice is the virtue which guides us in creating those organized human interactions we call institutions. In turn, social institutions, when justly organized, provide us with access to what is good for the person, both individually and in our associations with others. Social justice also imposes on each of us a personal responsibility to work with others to design and continually perfect our institutions as tools for personal and social development." Great definition but how is the term used? The web is a mishmash of topics: from bisexual/transgender equality to anti-smoking. There is Catholic social justice (which presumably does not include abortion rights) and Universalist Unitarian social justice (which does). There is even something called “ethical eating” which is probably PETA friendly. Environmental justice. Humane labeling (huh). And “slow food”? Must be the pro-crock pot crowd. From now on, when you hear someone spout the words “social justice”, say “define it”. If they can’t then tune them out – or simply say “you are an idiot”. More times than not I bet you will hear some disjointed, illogical ramblings which will invariably lead to some socialist collective solution for some imagined problems. Now I am in favor or putting all the bisexual/transgender-environmentalist-PETA friendly- humane labeling- slow food crowd into their own collective. The irony is that the social justice crowd wants to impose their values on the rest of us. Well that imposition is the opposite of justice. However, the important question is whether the Catholics and the Unitarians are socialist collectivists.

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