The 21st Century American Social Justice Zealot

I’ve slowly stopped using the phrase “Social Justice Warrior.” Precisely because most people who endlessly whine about social justice issues, in 2016 America, aren’t warriors at all. A warrior is (to paraphrase Worf, from Star Trek) bound by concepts of duty, honor, loyalty, and sacrifice. A warrior puts the needs of the mission, the service, the country, before his/her own needs. A warrior embraces stoicism — the stiff upper lip — and does not indulge in histrionic, spastic outbursts of self-pity, or accusatory name-calling. A warrior does not seek to be offended at the drop of a hat, nor does a warrior run to authority figures every time (s)he is slighted, or finds the actions or speech of others to be objectionable. A warrior is practiced in matters of self-discipline, self-denial, and overcoming obstacles without piteously crying about how external stumbling blocks have permanently hampered his/her progress.

I see none of these qualities — not in the actions, nor the words — of America’s new breed of socially conscious, digitally narcissistic, materially pampered, self-absorbed activists.

Whatever happened to Kennedy’s call, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country!” Hmm? When did our academic and activist set close its ears to Martin Luther King’s deservedly famous and timelessly evocative Content of Character speech?

Today’s so-called Social Justice Warrior is not a warrior at all. Merely a zealot. There is no onus on the zealot to hold himself or herself to a higher principle. The only thing a zealot understands, is that (s)he is emotionally invested in his/her beliefs above all else, and will use whatever means necessary to harangue, badger, intimidate, coerce, and control other people — so that the zealot gets his/her way. The world is artificially bent to conform to the zealot’s will.

It goes without saying that the 21st Century American Social Justice Zealot is an unhappy soul. By themselves, feelings of anger, rage, hopelessness, or impotency, are not invalid. Just about every human being experiences all of these emotions at one time or another. Most of us — as we grow and mature — learn to channel these emotions into constructive action. We start (in the words of Stephen R. Covey) with our immediate circle of influence. We focus on ourselves, and what we can do about our personal lives. (Worf, tapping fist to chest: “Here! Here is where we meet the challenge!”)

But the Social Justice Zealot is forever focused on external factors. Seeking (and often inventing) outside reasons for why the Social Justice Zealot is unhappy. Pretty soon, friends, family, coworkers, colleagues, they all begin to look like enemies. The Social Justice Zealot ultimately finds (s)he cannot be comfortable in the company of anyone other than more Social Justice Zealots. And together, they spin great narratives about how the very fabric of the world is racist, or sexist, or homophobic, or “cishet fascist,” and it’s the job of Social Justice Zealots to set the world to rights. They are a religion unto themselves. Totally committed to proselytizing their gospel, while driving all other forms of thought out of the public square.

And they demand that the apparatuses of learning and government force the rest of us to conform, or else we’ll be subject to inquisitorial pain and suffering.

(Another Star Trek aside: who remembers TNG’s episode “The Drumhead”?)

if Social Justice Zealotry abides any kind of code, it’s Alinsky’s. “The ends justify the means” is not just an instructive maxim on how to accomplish goals, it’s a justification for the tearing down and destroying of much that is good, noble, and necessary to our Western Liberal way of life. (Remember when “liberal” used to mean being open to multiple points of view, even the ones a person may disagree with?) Social Justice Zealots are far, far more concerned with their own feelings — and how these feelings inform (cloud!) their perspective — than they are in constructively approaching problems, much less seeking compromise. To the Social Justice Zealot, compromise is a dirty word. The church of Social Justice has compromised far too much as it is. It’s time for an all-out holy war on the “normal” facets of society, which “oppress” at every turn.

In their hurry to rip down the tapestries of the Enlightenment, Social Justice Zealots have lately been exhuming the rhetorical corpses of venerated men (and even a few women) from the past, and putting the cadavers on trial for various sins — according to Social Justice Zealot orthodoxy.

(In the realm of the speculative arts specifically, almost nobody is immune — name your favorite science fiction or fantasy or horror writer who died before the year 2000, and you can find twenty and thirty-something Social Justice Zealots verbally eviscerating that person on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media.)

Those historical figures which cannot be creatively coopted for the Social Justice cause, are summarily placed in the stocks, and splattered with rotten fruit. Always by people who seem to possess few or no valuable skills — which they might trade to society, for the purpose of self-betterment. After all, a Grievance Studies degree from Redwood State College of Northern California, doesn’t prepare one to do much else in life, other than become a campus apparatchik teaching other people to have Grievance Studies degrees.

Thus the Social Justice Zealot is a creature of recursive Ouoroborosian dimension. Endlessly traveling along circular paths of external blame, and possessing a special hatred for the edifices of Enlightened Western philosophy, commerce, liberal government, personal freedom, common law assumption of innocence, and the belief that while all men and women might be created equally, outcomes cannot and never ought to be guaranteed. Even progressive fellow travelers — caught straying from the doctrines of the church of Social Justice — are eaten alive. Hounded from their chairs at university. Made to prostrate themselves and grovel.

While the Social Justice Zealots take frowny-selfies — with a collective middle finger erected in the direction of the cell phone lens. Petulant. Unable (or unwilling) to cope. Forever demanding that people with productive lives, be made to stop and pay attention. Because fuck you, that’s why.

No, friends, these are most definitely not warriors. The Social Justice Zealots are the product of three generations of ever-softer parenting, and ever-softer living. Spoiled children in adult bodies. People more enamored with their narratives, than they are with facts. Unused to actually earning an honest living, at a vocation or profession that produces things society needs to function and survive.

“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country!”

Those words have been thrown in the Social Justice trash barrel.

The Social Justice Zealot motto is, “The country owes me everything, and if you disagree, I am going to call you a bigot, a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, along with a bunch of other bad words; and fuck you very much for even existing, you cisnormative asshole!”

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37 thoughts on “The 21st Century American Social Justice Zealot

  1. I never liked SJW, for the same reasons you lay out but mostly because I thought it took away from the people I’ve known who have been true warriors.

    SJZ may be accurate in many cases, but I personally prefer SJA, where the A can be either “advocate” or “agitator” depending on the person involved. I don’t think there’s anything particularly negative about being an advocate for social justice – in fact in many cases I think we should all advocate for social justice – so I consider SJA to be more descriptive than pejorative; however, agitation rather than advocacy begins to take on a more negative connotation. And if agitators begin to cross over into behavior that is particularly antisocial, another A word could be substituted.

    Best,
    G

  2. “Social Justice Warrior” was never intended as a complement once the term had been hijacked. Those who described themselves proudly as “social justice warriors” no doubt thought of themselves that way, but these days most of those who use the term are laughing AT the SJWs, not with them. Still, good points.

  3. When did our academic and activist set close its ears to Martin Luther King’s deservedly famous and timelessly evocative Content of Character speech?

    When they realized people would notice their character was lacking? 😉

  4. I would have to agree that Social Justice Zealot is a far more descriptive and accurate name for the people you describe. Zealots are generally stubbornly closed to any idea or opinion that stands in opposition to their ideal; often unwilling to recognize that the universe isn’t always going to agree with them.

    One particularly galling trait of SJZ is the excoriation of historical figures for things done in a past where those things were the norm. I recognize that certain things done in the past are not “kosher” by today’s standards, however I also recognize that nothing is to be achieved by condemning those persons acts from our more “enlightened” position. We became enlightened because of what has happened, not in spite of it. Why? Because we have the ability to examine history and learn from what was good and what was bad. It is folly, and frankly a waste of effort, to denounce and revile our forefathers for doing what they did because from our enlightened viewpoint those acts would now be considered wrong. Instead we can now look ahead and know that our knowledge of the past will allow us to avoid making similar mistakes.

  5. I always thought of SJW as ironic, but zealot works fine. Zealots don’t think and they suffer from the worst case of tunnel vision. If they were really and truly interested in doing good and being fair, they would realise people are all right and wrong to various degrees, no matter the political persuasion. No issue is black and white and that is why honesty is so important. But then, a zealot cares nothing for truth or honesty for it was never about saving the world.

  6. Social Justice Zombies works too. After all, they’ve been infected with the Marx virus and now shamble around mindlessly trying to spread it to others.

  7. //A warrior embraces stoicism — the stiff upper lip — and does not indulge in histrionic, spastic outbursts of self-pity, or accusatory name-calling.//

    I see. Interesting.

  8. I don’t think there’s anything particularly negative about being an advocate for social justice – in fact in many cases I think we should all advocate for social justice – so I consider SJA to be more descriptive than pejorative; however, agitation rather than advocacy begins to take on a more negative connotation.

    If you’re putting any kind of qualifiers on ‘justice’ you’re not actually advocating for justice, in fact quite the opposite. Social justice is inherently unjust.

  9. I agree with SJZ, but crybullies, snowflakes, and thieves of offense work too.

    Whichever they’re called, I can’t wait until they end up the way the original Zealots did.

  10. Let’s see what’s made Heat Street (http://heatst.com/) today!

    1. Princeton is banning the use of the word ‘man’ [as in person or humanity]
    2. Internet Asks Why Cops Didn’t Shoot White ‘Face-Eater’ But Shoot So Many Blacks for Lesser Crimes
    3. Website Issues Apology After ‘Triggering’ Readers With Positive ‘Sausage Party’ Review
    4. ‘Birth of a Nation’ Star’s College Rape Controversy Forces Hollywood to Make Very Awkward Choice
    5. Marist College Rebuffs Calls to Cancel Duke Basketball Matchup Over NC Bathroom Law
    6. Comedian Fined $42,000 by Human Rights Tribunal for Telling a Joke
    7. Ivanka Trump Buys From Liberal Jewelry Store, Which Then Bullies Her
    8. Some Liberals Want You to Stop Having Kids Because of Climate Change
    9. Bullying is Bad—Unless You’re Bullying Hunters and Other Gun Owners, and Then It’s OK
    10. Male Feminist Throws Temper Tantrum Until Guy Selling Fake Guns Banned From Comic Convention
    11. Japanese Video Game Director Calls Out Western Culture Critics Offended by Swimsuits
    12. Meryl Streep Calls For ‘Revolutionary’ Gender Swap Version of Hamilton
    13. Polygon Rips ‘No Man’s Sky’ for Being Environmentally Incorrect
    14. Abigail Breslin Blasts Gold’s Gym Bosses Over Body Shaming Ad Campaign

    All examples of behavior by Social Justice advocates exactly like what Brad described, and all are stories where you would have serious problems trying to find a similar example from the other side. Number four is interesting because it’s a squabble between different Social Justice approved victim groups.

  11. Attention shoppers, we’ve got Cameltoe on aisle twelve. That’s Cameltoe, aisle twelve.

    I see. Interesting.

    For those unfamiliar with the tactics of Cameltoe Flappergum, when he says, “I see. Interesting.” he means, how can I run back to Pravda 770 and breathlessly tell all my Trufan friends what a rotten dirty stupid evil hypocritical moron doofus stinky-feets that Torgersen idiot is!

    Thanks for making your usual token appearance, Cameltoe. You are nothing if not consistent.

  12. //Brad R. Torgersen on August 19, 2016 at 8:02 pm said:

    Attention shoppers, we’ve got Cameltoe on aisle twelve. That’s Cameltoe, aisle twelve.

    I see. Interesting.

    For those unfamiliar with the tactics of Cameltoe Flappergum, when he says, “I see. Interesting.” he means, how can I run back to Pravda 770 and breathlessly tell all my Trufan friends what a rotten dirty stupid evil hypocritical moron doofus stinky-feets that Torgersen idiot is!

    Thanks for making your usual token appearance, Cameltoe. You are nothing if not consistent.//

    No, I meant “interesting”. And given your reply, “does not indulge in histrionic, spastic outbursts of self-pity, or accusatory name-calling” is now doubly interesting.

  13. histrionic: overly theatrical or melodramatic in character or style.
    spastic: incompetent or uncoordinated.
    self-pity: excessive, self-absorbed unhappiness over one’s own troubles.

    You are, of course, welcome to demonstrate where Brad has met any of these definitions. Admittedly, they are matters of opinion, but Brad doesn’t seem unhappy. Angry, maybe.

    One could, of course, quibble with the whole ‘Social Justice Zealot’ formulation.

    Zealot: a person who has very strong feelings about something (such as religion or politics) and who wants other people to have those feelings : a zealous person
    Zealot: a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals.

    Are the people he’s describing as Social Justice Zealots for social justice? If so, do they have very strong feelings? Do they want others to have those feelings? Are they willing to make compromises? Certainly, the term ‘Social Justice Zealots’ seems to be adequately descriptive for what he’s referring to, so perhaps if you want to accuse him of name-calling, it’ll take some evidence. Feel free to provide some.

  14. The New York Times Op-Ed has been using the term “Gun Zealots” to describe Second Amendment Supporters, as in “trump Courts Gun Zealots.” Interestingly, Roget suggests “bigot” as an alternative. Social Justice Bigots has a nice ring to it.

  15. Pingback: Survival Guide for the Conservative, Classically Liberal, & Libertarian Science Fiction & Fantasy Author | madgeniusclub

  16. An excellent sendup for the Jizzies who seek to erode and destroy the very structures that support them and protect them from the world.

  17. Supposedly the defining element of Social Justice is that it requires using the available levers of power, authority and coercion. Historically, I mean as this was conceived of by the conceivers of it. So while a libertarian might be 100% on board with racial and ethnic equality, diversity, acceptance of gays, marriage, and transfolk they oppose coercion and therefore oppose Social Justice.

  18. Libertarians don’t GAF about equality outside of you mind your business, I’ll mind mine. Libertarianism’s core premise is personal freedom with the responsibility that goes along with it. Anyone is free to say whatever they want to, but the person they insult is also free to punch them in the mouth for it. No self-respecting Libertarian will demand so-called “equality” because they know it doesn’t really exist. They also understand the fact you can not and should not legislate so-called “equality” because to do so would mean stealing something from one person in order to give it to another and that is not justice. It’s theft.

    Libertarianism is about a step and a half left of pure anarchy. It is not anywhere close, not even on the same continent with social or economic “equality.”

  19. How is that not equality other than that you’re defining “equality” to mean that it’s got to be enforced by authority? We don’t seem to have the mental pathways to think about the problem *except* in the conceptual space accorded the State.

    We get accused of racism or homophobia or every other thing under the sun and all of it is absolute LIES except for this one thing… not believing in using authority to force compliance.

    It’s not even a question *should* diverse authors have free access to editors and publishing and everything else. Any other situation is absurd and any individual who does discriminate on those basis is a jackass.

    Justice is about crime. Social Justice is about thought crime and using power and authority to force people to be Good.

  20. Whenever someone mentions the attitudes of “scholars” within Higher Education, I’m reminded of Eisenhower’s farewell address (you know, the one with the Military Industrial Complex warning). He also had this to say:
    “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.

    Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

  21. Reading that speech by Eisenhower is always interesting. If you look at what he’s saying, we have the equivalent of the ‘Military-Industrial complex’ for the ‘war’ on poverty and ‘war’ on drugs, with all the problems he pointed out.

  22. [deleted because of fake e-mail address – thanks for playing, Pravda 770 person posting from The Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, London, UK.]

  23. Civilis, I have often thought that the denizens of Pravda operate from the position that whatever criticism is aimed in their direction — from the Puppy camp — must automatically be deflected back. Even when it’s not aimed at them, nor has much to do with them at all. “I know you are, but what am I?” The fact that this article barely touches on things related to their object of devoted obsession (the Hugo) does not dissuade them from knee-jerk trolling; just because this is the only thing they know how to contribute to the comments of any Puppy-sponsored article.

  24. [Deleted again, for fake e-mail address — when you have the guts to troll with a real address and a real identity, come back and try me.]

  25. RDF: That comment by Brad may be histrionic, but it’s neither spastic or self-pitying, so congrats for getting one out of three. If anything, Brad should be rather happy if that’s all you can say in response. Certainly, his earlier comment leads me to the assumption he’s happy his detractors are so inept (although it does mean he occasionally needs to police the comments section).

    Brad: I have often thought that the denizens of Pravda operate from the position that whatever criticism is aimed in their direction — from the Puppy camp — must automatically be deflected back. Even when it’s not aimed at them, nor has much to do with them at all. “I know you are, but what am I?”

    It’s worse than that. You’ve accused them of ‘Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking’ and their best defense is that you’re also guilty of Jaywalking, and when called for proof, they provide proof that you once crossed a street. And that’s after the whole passive-aggressive “I see. Interesting” defense where rather than make any arguments, they just acted like it was self-evident that what you said was wrong. Meanwhile, they have not responded to “A warrior is (to paraphrase Worf, from Star Trek) bound by concepts of duty, honor, loyalty, and sacrifice. A warrior puts the needs of the mission, the service, the country, before his/her own needs. […] A warrior does not seek to be offended at the drop of a hat, nor does a warrior run to authority figures every time (s)he is slighted, or finds the actions or speech of others to be objectionable. A warrior is practiced in matters of self-discipline, self-denial, and overcoming obstacles without piteously crying about how external stumbling blocks have permanently hampered his/her progress.” (the Arson and Murder accusations) at all.

  26. The SJW acronym is probably too well entrenched to be replaced at this late date. However, I prefer to think of them as Social Justice Wowsers. This has the advantage of being perfectly accurate; also of being an insult direct, rather than ironic, as ‘Warriors’ is. Best of all, most of them will not know what the word ‘wowser’ means, though they will correctly guess that it is uncomplimentary; and if they want to find out for sure, they will have to consult a dictionary, which will probably cause their little toy brains to overheat and their heads to explode.

    Anyone else on board for this?

  27. RDF: That comment by Brad may be histrionic, but it’s neither spastic or self-pitying,

    “For those unfamiliar with the tactics of Cameltoe Flappergum, when he says, “I see. Interesting.” he means, how can I run back to Pravda 770 and breathlessly tell all my Trufan friends what a rotten dirty stupid evil hypocritical moron doofus stinky-feets that Torgersen idiot is!”
    – Brad R. Torgersen on August 19, 2016 at 8:02 pm

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