Why has ‘social justice’ become a dirty phrase?

Before you jump to conclusions about the title of this editorial, I’d like to emphatically declare that I am one of the so-called “thin-skinned minorities” that represent everything that is wrong with the Western world, well, at least according to some.

One thing that I can simply not wrap my head around is the term “social justice warrior” (SJW). It sounds almost heroic, of course, but it’s use is particularly to demean and dismiss the thoughts and opinions of those who engage in critical discussions of social justice either on the Internet or in real life.

Surely, it’s good to have these important conversations, right? Well, to show just how pejorative this term really is, here is a theoretical conversation posted to Urban Dictionary to help define what an SJW really is:
“White straight male: “hi”


White straight male: “All I said was-”


White straight male: “What are you talking abou-”


Another person: “no use in trying to reason with her, she’s an SJW””
This is a clearly hyperbolic anecdote, and it seems like this is a common sentiment among young people when it comes to “social justice” supporters. Several years past, an SJW meme helped popularize this conception of an illogical, easily offended, privileged and rebellious youth, often women, trying to fight for gender equality, destroy racism and establish homosexual rights all within the confines of a YouTube comments section.

What’s most problematic about the term “SJW” is when it stops being applied to those YouTube commenter warriors, and begins to be applied to actual people working towards advocacy and equity in real life. For example, following the announcement of Brock’s next President, Wendy Cukier, an anonymous post on the Facebook page Spotted at Brock called her an SJW, reducing her work towards gun control to simply zealotry.

Am I the only that finds it disturbing that our society compares those who care about social justice to a six-headed, fire-breathing dragon? /Zerohedge.com

Am I the only that finds it disturbing that our society compares those who care about social justice to a six-headed, fire-breathing dragon? /Zerohedge.com

“Political correctness” too is a buzzword that make conservatives moist with anticipation that they might be able to debate how ridiculous it is that the (often racist and insensitive) terms that they’ve used for decades and centuries, are offensive to others.

Ultimately, this resistance to social change, and for lack of a better term, social justice is concerning, especially in a university setting. Unsettlingly, most of the critics of social justice warriors are defenders of political incorrectness will never understand the irony that the university degree that they’re paying for is unreachable for most of the world’s population.

For a group of people who seem so obsessed with the idea that SJWs are just “too easily offended”, these dissenters seem quite offended, and at the very least, decisively defensive. The national discourse in both Canada and the U.S., primarily circulated by conservatives and Christians is that political correctness is ruining “the country”.

Political correctness is not the realization of George Orwell’s “newspeak” from 1984, but instead a recognition by a privileged majority that words, ideas and cultural understandings have consequences.

Unfortunately, the reality for far too many North Americans is that the right to have a football team named “The Washington Redskins” is more important than the minority’s right to be free from discrimination and systematic oppression.

- Steve Nadon

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3 thoughts on “Why has ‘social justice’ become a dirty phrase?

  1. “Social justice” is an oxymoron — a contradiction of terms, built on a lie.

    When we think of “justice being served,” the image that comes to mind is a courtroom, where everyone is judged fairly. Yet when the word “justice” is appended to antecedents such as “social,” it means something quite distinct from the application of jurisprudence.

  2. Personally don’t really like the term, a social justice warrior like you said should be something everyone strive to be, however it was applied to the most rabid over zealots of the bunch, those that are not even willing to have a discussion. Still there are other terms floating around for them like: “regressive left”,”authoritarian left”,”pc culture”(Trump made sure to ruin that one at least for me), “gender warriors”, and my personal favorite “cry-bully’s”.

    If SJW is being ruined by conservatives assuming any liberal is a SJW, im sure the internet will find another term, hopefully this time can be more appropriate to the demographic it represents, until mainstream media start’s calling them out on their BS instead of accepting their rhetoric as valid just because it comes with the “approved correct agenda”.

  3. >but instead a recognition by a privileged majority that words, ideas and cultural understandings have consequences.

    Like tweeting something politically incorrect on a plane then having a mob of bullies harass your employer until you get fired and having your life ruined.
    Because that’s what SJW actively DO.

    That’s the opposite of justice.

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