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I learned of the book Social Justice Warriors Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police by Vox Day from an LJ post by johncwright. Just after I read it, James Howard Kunstler published a blog post about his experiences with SJWs at Boston College. I wrote to Jim and suggested that he read Day's book, which he did. That was back in November of 2015. Just last week, I recorded a Skype conversation with Jim. The first part of that conversation is available for free in C-Real Podcast episode 498: Everything's A Racket.

I included the second part of that conversation in that weekend's episode of the C-Realm Vault Podcast, which is only available to paying subscribers. (C-Realm Vault episode 180) In the Vault portion of the conversation Jim and I discussed Day's book and Jim's experiences at Boston College.

In response to the Vault portion of the conversation, a C-Realm Vault subscriber and long-time Friend of the C-Realm posted the following to his blog:

There's a new meme on the interwebs, and I literally only ran into it yesterday. It's the "Social Justice Warrior", or SJW for short. Google trends indicates that it's of strictly US origin and has been around since 2013 with approximately linearly increasing citations.

The SJW is an archetype of someone who is campaigning for justice of various kinds, but who is also stupid, uniformed, making rash decisions and somewhat offensive or inconsiderate in their advocacy.

I came across this meme while listening to the C-Realm Vault podcast number 180 in which KMO interviews James Howard Kunstler. Towards the end KMO goes off on a absurd tirade against the archetype even to the extent that at times I got the impression that he was beginning to lapse into a sort of casual racism. There is some obvious deconstruction which can be applied and KMO didn't even attempt it, but maybe he will in later podcasts. My deconstruction of the SJW meme would be:

Firstly, it's just an archetype used as a straw man for a particular political purpose. You set it up and then you attack it. If there are enough credulous folks around maybe your political enclave increases its cohesiveness.

There was an obvious dichotomy between disliking the offensive nature of the archetype and yet also advocating the right to offend people with unpopular opinions. This dichotomy was never really explored in the podcast.

SJW is clearly a meme coming from the political far right and used to demonize people who are trying to change the status quo by being intolerant of injustice. In any intellectual discussion this should be acknowledged.

Cherry picking YouTube videos for examples of the archetype was perhaps not the best way to explain it, particularly in an audio only format.

Allowing a multitude of viewpoints to be expressed is ok. However, for this to be effective it needs to be accompanied by appropriate analysis and context which may include counter-narratives. Without that, you just have a situation which appears to be blatantly promoting racism/sexism/classism.

The real critique of the archetype should be one of what constitutes effective versus ineffective activism (which alienates potential supporters).

Other than being vaguely irritated I wouldn't have paid any more attention to this meme had it not also cropped up in a blog post about the Linux Foundation, in which Karen Sandler is accused of being an SJW. In my opinion that blog post is utter garbage, but as mentioned in the C-Realm podcast it is a good idea to be aware of the range of viewpoints even if you personally don't agree with them.

As an outsider who has only occasionally dabbled in Linux kernel development I think the kernel community has its own set of social problems. Some of these originate from the "benevolent dictatorship" maintenance model. Dictatorship is never actually benevolent, even though all dictators believe themselves to be so. Other problems are coming from proprietary attempts to colonize what is a commons based peer production process - such as by trying to exclude GPL supporters like Karen Sandler and also to prevent ordinary members from voting on who should represent them.

The Justice Question

I've seen a lot of injustice in my life, both vicariously via the media and also anecdotally from personal experience. Particularly as there is ongoing austerity and increasing levels of starvation, injustice is gaining the upper hand.

There needs to be more justice in the world, not less. Justice isn't always the same as law. All manner of very unjust things can be vigorously claimed to be "legal". Sometimes being the nice, quiet and polite people who have some concerns and a petition to sign is not enough. Sometimes you need to be noisier and to gather a critical mass of supporters to get things changed. Just being an atomised consumer expressing your fetishised individualism - as suggested in the podcast - isn't sufficient and self-absorption will only lead to perpetuation of the injustice. With solidarity and enough tenacity, divide and rule methods can be overturned.

So I'm more in favour of confronting things like sexism or classism and trying to do something about it (even though I'm not very confrontational myself) than complacently assuming that it's all ok. There is always a chance that activism can be ineffective or over-the-top, but those are tactical errors and in any broad attempt to transform the society into something more humane there are going to be mistakes.


He then brought his blog post to my attention by posting a link to it in the Friends of the C-Realm group on Facebook where I posted the following replies:

Bob, I would recommend that you listen to C-Realm Vault podcasts 170 and 173 for additional context.

I'm not sure how I feel about having you post a public comment on the content of a C-Realm Vault episode. Sure, it's advertising of a sort, and you did spell my name right, so according to the famous dictum about good and bad publicity, I should be pleased.

On the other hand, most folks who encounter the name KMO in your post will not push past the pay wall or investigate further, and so all they will know about me or the podcast is what they read in your blog post. The portrait you paint there is, I would think by your own admission, not consistent with the mental image of me or the C-Realm that you've developed over the course of how ever many episodes you've listened to.

As you admitted in the first paragraph in your post, you only encountered the SJW meme the day before you posted your opinion about it and the people who discuss it. I hope your opinion isn't carved in stone so that any and all future research into the topic will be in the service of reinforcing your initial impression.

I would recommend reading the book So, You've Been Publicly Shamed, by Jon Ronson. I realize that a book is a big time commitment, so the next best thing would probably be this episode of his radio show:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0112g4w

The most important thing to know about the SJW mode of attack is their method of target selection. They don't attack people who openly advocate racist, sexist, homophobic or transphobic positions. They target fellow liberals who either say something innocuous which can be mis-characterized (for example, Tim Hunt) or who are speaking in the lexicon of progressivism that is a few years behind the vanguard (like Derrick Jensen and Lierre Kieth.) SJWs focus their attacks on people or parties who are likely to seek to appease their attackers and for whom being labeled racist, sexist, homophobic or transphobic can have devastating impacts on their career or social standing.

Finally, I hope you can see that you've propagated the pernicious notion that only people who oppose social justice would object to the tactics of those who attack others in the name of social justice. That's akin to saying that the only reason to oppose the USA Patriot Act is because you hate America. Just because the word 'patriot' or 'social justice' is in the title doesn't mean that the person who attacks others using that banner for cover has any monopoly on patriotism or social justice.


And

The addition of the comic strip doesn't bode well for your keeping an open mind on the topic, which, by your own admission, you've only just discovered.

Someone wanting to talk "about the problems that women and minorities face" is not necessarily a Social Justice Warrior. SJW refers to a set of dishonest tactics that people who claim to champion the rights of oppressed minorities use to defame unsuspecting and well-meaning liberals and, when possible, get them fired.

Again, SJW refers to a set of tactics and a preference for slander over rational discussion. Not everyone who wants justice is an SJW. Opposing SJW tactics and illiberal attitudes does not equal opposing justice.


I posted a link to the discussion to Twitter. One Twitter user who doesn't use Facebook asked for a summary someplace other than Facebook, so I gathered things together here on LiveJournal for easy reference and for the benefit of the Facebook-averse.

My Twitter handle is @Kayemmo.

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Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
kmo
Jul. 10th, 2016 05:31 pm (UTC)
Re: Moron
Someone posted the following comment to this entry:

Subject: Moron

The only thing worse than a SJW is a SJW apologist or sympathizer, and you clearly fall into this category. Not only have you clearly failed to understand this "meme", but you've used an ironically high number of logical falacies and misdirections to attack those that call out the average sjw. Congratulations, you are a hippocrit, doing the exact same things you claim to decry.



He then deleted the comment. I'm guessing he sussed out the formatting and realized that the passages that offended him were a block quote of someone defaming me and not my actual words.

Just to be clear. Since I wrote the original post, I have had a great many conversations about the motivations and tactics of so-called social justice warriors, both with people who sympathize with them and those who have proclaimed SJWs to be their enemies. Here is a link to a transcript of one of those conversations:

http://c-realm.blogspot.com/2016/02/automation-and-sjws-conversation-with.html

While my first impulse in response to this comment was to distance myself from SJWs, I want to emphasize that trying to open a dialog with someone you don't know by calling them a moron and a hypocrite is not a very productive approach. Even if I were in league with the SJWs, insults from a stranger would not prompt me to re-evaluate my position.

This is free advice, so value it appropriately. If you find yourself hurling online insults at someone you don't know, have never met, and have no history with, it's time to step away from the computer (very difficult it it's a smart phone), go outside, take some deep breaths and decompress.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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