American Elephants


You Want Social Justice? Who Decides Who Gets What? by The Elephant's Child

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Funny how some things in common parlance become so common that we really don’t pay attention to them any more. The protesters in some  cities across the country claimed to be protesting for “justice” for Michael Brown. Justice is a matter of our nation’s laws and the Constitution, as determined  in this case by a Grand Jury investigation, which was conducted at length according to the law. The results of the labors of the jury are justice.

What the protesters were demanding was, instead,”social justice.” Social Justice is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “justice in the form of the distribution of wealth, opportunities and privilege within a society.” There’s the rub. We are not talking, as the Declaration of Independence states, of the equal opportunity to pursue Liberty and Happiness — but of an equal outcome.

The Urban Dictionary defines social justice as:

Promoting tolerance, freedom, and equality for all people regardless of race, sex, orientation, national origin, handicap, etc… except for white, straight, cisgendered males. Fuck those guys, they’re overprivileged no matter what. “In the name of social justice, check your privilege.”

Same source, second definition:

Mob violence, usually associated with a victim group.
1969 Stonewall riots.
1992 LA riots.

Mostly the term is undefined, but it sounds good doesn’t it? The academics who used to have to teach at least 15 hours a semester now have a lot more free time, and the faculty lounge is afloat with theory. The distribution of advantages and disadvantages in society. This supposes that there is some normal state to which everything must be distributed to make things fair and equal.

The word equal, in English, is derived from the word equitable, suggesting fairness, but what is fair doesn’t necessarily mean equal, but what is proportionate to the efforts of each.  In France, on the other hand, the word is Égalité which means the “equals sign.” What is on one side must be equal to that which is on the other side. This is very different from the English idea of “equitable.”

Social justice is often associated with the idea of the “common good.” Which brings up some questions. Who decides what is fair? Who determines what is equal? Who decides what must be distributed from who and to whom? If these questions are turned over to the government, as the idea of “the common good” would suggest — because who else is going to do it — then you’ve got trouble, or more accurately Socialism, Communism, Dictatorship, Tyranny in one form or another. Giving someone or some group the power to decide, and once decided, it must  be enforced, and there you go.

Free Market Capitalism does not promise equal outcomes, only the opportunity to do with your life what you choose to do, or what you can do with the opportunities you find. We have  plenty of  examples of those who have been born into poverty, and the ghetto and who rise through hard work and determination to the very highest levels of society. You can probably come up with a list easily. And we are a society with a lot of empathy and compassion and arrange to help those who are in need of help. Americans are the most generous people on Earth.

That said, I don’t get the envy part. Isn’t life a struggle with yourself to see what you can make of it? Is life suddenly made wonderful if you win the lottery? The stories of those who did suggest that it doesn’t work out so well. What makes life good is not the material things you are given, but what you accomplish with what you’ve got in your own determination and character.


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