How did being a ‘social justice warrior’ become a bad thing?


Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan is coming under attack by supporters for Donald Trump for saying that the latter’s comments that US district judge Gonzalo Curiel overseeing the case of Trump University could not be objective because of his Mexican heritage (even though he was born in Indiana) was an example of textbook racism.

“Politically correct ‘Social Justice Warrior,’ and complete MORON Paul Ryan is busy once again helping his good friends Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama by attacking his own parties [sic] frontrunner,” wrote Amy Moreno at TruthFeed.com.

“Thanks to Paul Ryan’s incorrect and hysterical statements referring to Trump as a RACIST, over an issue Ryan clearly does not understand, Obama’s White House is now taking his word as ‘gospel’ and referring to Trump a ‘racist.’” Moreno fumed.

The critics have trotted out the familiar all-purpose charge that Ryan was trying to be ‘politically correct’ but also pinned the label of ‘social justice warrior’ on him. The use of this phrase as a pejorative is familiar in atheist circles and is used against those atheists (like me) who think that there is more to atheism than simply not believing in god and fighting against religious and other superstitions, and that issues of social justice are also important to work on.

According to this urban dictionary, the term is used to denigrate those who use it for the purposes of political correctness.

A pejorative term for an individual who repeatedly and vehemently engages in arguments on social justice on the Internet, often in a shallow or not well-thought-out way, for the purpose of raising their own personal reputation. A social justice warrior, or SJW, does not necessarily strongly believe all that they say, or even care about the groups they are fighting on behalf of. They typically repeat points from whoever is the most popular blogger or commenter of the moment, hoping that they will “get SJ points” and become popular in return. They are very sure to adopt stances that are “correct” in their social circle.

This seems a little tortured to me and far too dependent on speculative assertions of motive. It is also somewhat redundant since it seems so close to the already overused ‘politically correct’ charge. I can understand how people can differ on how to achieve social justice but I am puzzled by implication that it is something negative. How can one be against justice, social or otherwise? Or is it the concept of ‘warrior’ that is the problem?

One thing that has surprised me about the Trump-Curiel controversy has been the number of big-name Republican politicians and media figures who say that they are outraged that Trump brought the judge’s heritage into it and have even threatened a convention revolt and a sort of coup to deny Trump the nomination. I don’t expect anything to come of it and that these people will eat their words and rally behind him eventually but this is still surprising since Republicans have long been using people’s (including judges’) ethnicity and background against them. Why is this the bridge too far for them?

Seth Meyers gives a good background to on Trump’s university, what the judge did, and the reactions to Trump’s attacks on judge

Comments

  1. Siobhan says

    How can one be against social justice?

    That’s easy, Mano: All the privileges one enjoys cease to be privileges if others have them.

  2. sonofrojblake says

    Beat me to it, Siobhan. “I’m alright Jack” is the key phrase here.

    Why is this the bridge too far for them?

    Because it’s Trump, and they’re desperate. #anyonebutTrump

  3. Holms says

    It’s easier to understand the term if you actually ignore the oft-quoted definition, as that definition is rarely followed. To be an SJW, all you need to do is state a progressive opinion, or argue for a progressive policy, or simply be progressive in general, and someone on the conservative side of you will declare you an SJW.

  4. moarscienceplz says

    It is also somewhat redundant since it seems so close to the already overused ‘politically correct’ charge.

    Playing the ‘PC’ card even once is one time too many. The phrase was invented to push back against people trying to behave humanely towards oppressed groups. There is no nice way to say someone is being “politically correct”. The person saying that is saying they want to oppress people.

  5. CJO says

    Regarding the speculation on motive, it’s pure projection: those whose every public utterance is a posture intended to assert dominance or signal in-group affiliation assume that anyone giving voice to an opinion does so for the same reason.

  6. says

    Speculative assertions of motive have long been common online, but now there are new words being used to do it. “SJW” is one, and another gaining in popularity is “virtue signalling”.

  7. corwyn says

    When you try to put a label on good behavior, instead of praising the behavior itself, it becomes easy for people to manipulate the label. Let this be a lesson to all who want to invent some new label as opposed to doing actual good. There is no reason to say anything more about someone who helps feed the poor. How could a label improve that?

    Thank you kindly.

  8. says

    What corwyn said @#8

    “What offensive things do you want to say that you feel are being suppressed? What free speech of yours is being infringed? I’m trying to figure out your specific complaint.”

    I did that exercise, once, and my interlocutor finally fell back to a firing position consisting of an extended whine that Andrew Dice Clay’s career was ruined because he made jokes that made women mad. Oh. It wasn’t that he was, you know, un funny?

  9. lanir says

    So… That definition. All I got out of it is that anyone who calls me this is trying to say I’m a hypocrite. On very specific topics. I guess that helps hide that they’re often projecting because they’d never argue that side of those topics. Most of the time all these tough guys who say other people don’t have sense and glorify their own willingness to offend you are the first ones to cry foul if you say something they don’t like. They mostly turn into the worst sort of whiny, immature, self-centered jerk.

  10. doublereed says

    Eh, I get the impression that “SJW” is quickly going out of style, mostly because people are even using it to describe Paul Ryan.

  11. Eric O says

    I think “SJW” is a relative term which generally means “someone who is more progressive than I am”. When uttered by supposedly liberal atheists, the epithet usually refers to feminists, anti-racists, and supporters of LGBTQ equality. For Trump supporters, that includes pretty much anyone who finds Trump disturbing.

    I find it hilarious that Paul Ryan is being called an SJW now. I think it just serves to illustrate how stupid and meaningless the term is.

  12. Randall Lee says

    The sad thing is that Trump is being maligned as a racist in the first place. Mexicans are not a race.
    .
    The judge it appears is an anchor baby himself. Talk about conflicts of interests and appearances of impropriety!

    With the exception of the anarchists show me one SJW that does not resort to violence in order to bring about their agenda.
    .
    For the shocking truth on this judge listen here
    .

  13. Randall Lee says

    How did being a ‘social justice warrior’ become a bad thing?

    It actually began a long time ago when mankind was first deceived into believing in the illusion of authority to be imposed by the morally superior upon the morally and otherwise inferior was a proper means of organizing society. That grand superstition lives on today in minds that refuse to exercise the necessary reason and individual responsibility to extricate themselves from the cult of Government.
    They love their slavery even to the point of believing it to be freedom.
    .
    As for Trump’s ordeal, U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who has been criticized by Donald Trump as a “hater” appointed by President Obama who should be recused from the case, listed his membership in the “La Raza Lawyers of San Diego” on a judicial questionnaire he filled out when he was selected to be a federal judge. He was named in a brochure as a member of the selection committee for the organization’s 2014 Annual Scholarship Fund Dinner & Gala. Meanwhile, the San-Diego based law firm representing the plaintiffs in the Trump University case, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd, was listed as a sponsor of the event.

    WND reported the San Diego firm paid $675,000 to the Clintons for speeches, and the firm’s founder is a wealthy San Diego lawyer who served a two-year sentence in federal prison for his role in a kickback scheme to mobilize plaintiffs for class-action lawsuits.

    Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2016/06/trump-u-judges-group-tied-to-national-council-of-laraza/#IhTr2kCh47wY0ffQ.99

  14. Seth says

    Those offs are getting really lonely, Randall. Why don’t you go and fuck them? Take all the offs you’ve been neglecting and fuck them, and leave the rest of us the hell alone.

  15. Randall Lee says

    At least now we know that Seth isn’t likely an atheist as he angrily comes to the defense of the illusion of Authority and the State. I was under the impression that atheists prided themselves in their ability to react with reason and facts. But Seth sure doesn’t fit that character. He would rather spit anger and venom. What a poor example! He even assumes to speak for the group.

  16. Holms says

    The sad thing is that Trump is being maligned as a racist in the first place. Mexicans are not a race.

    The fact that Mexican is a nationality does not preclude racism against them. Especially as Mexico, being Central American, is ethnically different to North America.

    The judge it appears is an anchor baby himself. Talk about conflicts of interests and appearances of impropriety!

    He is a natural born USA citizen, and his parent migrated legally and became citizens before he was even born. Therefore he cannot be an ‘anchor’ baby, as his parents had no need of an anchor to remain in USA – they were already citizens.

    (Please note that it took a single google search to discover this; I conclude therefore that you didn’t even make an attempt to know what you were talking about before venting forth.)

    With the exception of the anarchists show me one SJW that does not resort to violence in order to bring about their agenda.

    Tally up everyone that has been labelled an SJW. How many of them have not resorted to violence? Virtually all of them.

    Unless of course you have some sort of convoluted and highly idiosyncratic definition of violence…? Oh yes, you’re the guy that thinks ‘believing government should exist’ is violence, despite that being not even remotely what the word means in common understanding. This renders your accusation of widespread SJW violence incredibly inane.

    For the shocking truth on this judge listen here
    [FORTY FIVE MINUTE VIDEO LOL]

    If you are too lazy to summarise your case in support of your own accusation, I have no reason to give any attention to said accusation.

    It actually began a long time ago when mankind was first deceived into believing in the illusion of authority to be imposed by the morally superior upon the morally and otherwise inferior was a proper means of organizing society.

    Without the collective will of a group imposing standards of behaviour on that group, there is no order; no law nor law enforecement means lawlessness. If that is what you want, then you will find yourself in the minority on that point, and why should the minority view of law and behaviour rule over the majority?

    WND reported the San Diego firm paid $675,000 to the Clintons for speeches, and the firm’s founder is a wealthy San Diego lawyer who served a two-year sentence in federal prison for his role in a kickback scheme to mobilize plaintiffs for class-action lawsuits.

    Guilt by association. Got it.

    At least now we know that Seth isn’t likely an atheist as he angrily comes to the defense of the illusion of Authority and the State.

    Add ‘atheist’ to the list of words for which you have a highly idiosyncratic definition.

    Note also that Seth makes no indication that he speaks for atheism as a group. Further, he doesn’t even indicate that he is an atheist in that comment, though perhaps he is and has indicated so elsewhere.

  17. lanir says

    @Randall Lee #12: Okay, you appear to be a Trump supporter so we aren’t likely to agree on much and I’m not going to convince you of anything. That leaves me with two things to say.

    First, you can’t make a point by linking a 45 minute video and sort of vaguely implying there’s a point you consider important in there somewhere. To make your point clear, say what it is and where to find it in the video.

    Second, I’m sort of curious. Trump essentially wants to change judges partway through a trial because he chose to say something and now he’s decided on his own that this is affecting the judge’s thinking. He wants to choose who can judge him. This is what he does with the stature he gained by being the presumptive Republican nominee. Is that sort of self-aggrandizing behavior at any expense really the actions you want out of a future president? Wouldn’t that make you distrust him at least a little?

  18. sonofrojblake says

    @moarscienceplz, 5:

    The phrase was invented to push back against people trying to behave humanely towards oppressed groups.

    No, the phrase was invented by the people who were trying to be politically correct, as a kind of self-deprecating joke. It was only later it was twisted into a term of abuse.

    I like how Stewart Lee describes political correctness: “What is political correctness? It’s an often clumsy negotiation towards a kind of formally inclusive language, and there’s all sorts of problems with it, but it’s better than what we had before.”

    https://youtu.be/bmsV1TuESrc?t=55s

  19. sonofrojblake says

    How can one be against justice, social or otherwise?

    You don’t need to be against justice, social or otherwise. You just need to be against being told off for something you’ve said or done in the tone SJWs often choose to do it.

  20. Edward Gemmer says

    I used to call people that if their concept of social justice was limited to insulting people on the internet. But now it is overused.

  21. sonofrojblake says

    If your only contact with them was over the internet… how could you tell?

  22. says

    You don’t need to be against justice, social or otherwise. You just need to be against being told off for something you’ve said or done in the tone SJWs often choose to do it.

    Fixed that for you. People want to say and do shitty things without being called on it.

  23. Sean2007 says

    There is nothing wrong with social justice, or those who promote it. The term “social justice warrior” is meant to be ironic, as it was originally directed at people who claim to be anti-racist/sexist yet seem to have an intensely pathological hatred of “white males,” leading a reasonable person to conclude that their alleged anti-racism/sexism is selective at best if not entirely insincere.

    Intensely hostile, venomous and intolerant to people who disagree with them, quick to label everything and everyone a racist or a sexist, they nevertheless display a remarkable condescension to minorities who they treat as hyper-sensitive babies in need of protection by middle class whites. It is difficult to believe such angry, hateful and anti-social people are truly interested in promoting social justice rather than in promoting their own virtue.

    I question the sincerity of every one of them. They have done more to undermine the left than anything Trump has or ever will do.

    SJWs frequently say things against white males or Western civilization that a reasonable person would consider racist or sexist if they were directed at minorities or women. The Reddit thread “Stormfront or SJW” points out the difficulty of distinguishing the rantings of bigoted SJWs from the bona-fide racists over at Stormfront when you remove identifying labels and context from their comments and replace them with blanks. The examples speak for themselves and show why many on the left despise SJW types.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/StormfrontorSJW/

  24. John Morales says

    Sean2007, it comes from the original term ‘keyboard warrior’.

    SJWs frequently say things against white males or Western civilization that a reasonable person would consider racist or sexist if they were directed at minorities or women.

    Bah. Your ignorance amuses me.

  25. Silentbob says

    @ 24 Sean2007

    I’ll admit I’m impressed by the honesty of the title of your linked page.
    (“CHERRYPICKING STRAWMAN CENTRAL”.)

  26. Holms says

    #24 Sean2007
    Words are not defined by fiat, but by common use. Your definition is undermined by the fact that it does not match the common use of the term, outlined in post #4.

    The Reddit thread “Stormfront or SJW” points out the difficulty of distinguishing the rantings of bigoted SJWs from the bona-fide racists over at Stormfront when you remove identifying labels and context from their comments and replace them with blanks.

    Ah. Thanks for the warning, I know not to bother even glancing at that site.

  27. Nick Gotts says

    Why is this the bridge too far for them? – Mano

    Because it’s Trump, and they’re desperate. #anyonebutTrump – sonofrojblake@5

    That doesn’t make any sense, as is generally the case when you say anything about Trump. Those scolding Trump for his racist outbursts against Curiel include Republican politicians who have reluctantly (Ryan) or enthusiastically (Gingrich) endorsed him; and they’ve made clear they still do. I think the reasons are the timing – Trump was supposed to become “Presidential” now he’s effectively won the nomination; and that the attacks on Curiel are undeniably motivated by Trump’s personal financial interests, not politics. These two factors indicate that Trump is incapable of the self-discipline necessary to maximise his chances against Clinton – which naturally worries those wanting Republican victories this November.

    What a complete lack of surprise that “anarchist” Randall Lee turns out to be a Trump supporter. And that he continues to believe that he has the authority to redefine words to mean what he wants them to mean – “atheism” and “racism” being his latest victims.

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