Tony Stark and Lex Luthor. Both are geniuses, billionaires, playboys, and philanthropists. How do they differ you ask? One is a superhero, the other, a super villain. While it may seem that the mission of both men may philosophically be the same, somewhere in their outlook is a quintessential difference. Technically they both want what’s best for mankind, while Tony, who normally is completely self-serving and egotistical, would do anything and everything within in his power and ability to save mankind from any threat, even if he and his public persona are hated. Lex, on the other hand, will use those same men to sadistically achieve his ends by any means necessary, even if that means putting them in harm’s way, which may include their complete and utter annihilation. However, if you asked, both would say they are fighting for justice.
This same dichotomy could be said with some of the people that I used to call friends.
Over the past few months I started to notice a trend with some of the people who call themselves “social justice warriors”. They say they want justice, they may even wholeheartedly believe in justice, but when digging deeper into their rhetoric, commentary and content, justice isn’t the word to describe their goal. Revenge and attention may be a better choice.
Let me be 100% completely clear, I am NOT implicating ALL people who fight or advocate for social justice and change. I do not work in absolutes. I am talking about some of them. The fight for equality and equity in a world fraught with the opposite is hard enough as it is without complicating it with personal vendettas. I understand that some of those vendettas are because of the systems of oppression that are in place, but if justice is to prevail, some of these vendettas have to take a back seat and the process of justice must take over. Unfortunately, the trend I’m starting to see has these unresolved issues in the forefront and are used to create a litmus test for support. What’s also unfortunate, is that some of these “warriors” have a growing audience whom are being indoctrinated into their campaign of revenge.
An example of this would be how they want society to view something like rape. Since there are other problems and factors exacerbated by the systems that oppress us all that make reporting and believing rape allegations difficult, in their eyes, we are expected to view every accuser a victim and every accused a perpetrator regardless of evidence presented or lack thereof. Any questions or deviation from this viewpoint and you are deemed an apologist, misogynist and anything else you have to say about the manner is to be viewed akin to a men’s rights activist. Although they are correct in stating that the percentage of false rape allegations is low, that our patriarchal society shames female accusers a good number of the time, and other obstacles that make reporting and investigating rape accusations difficult; what is this absolutist mentality devoid of situational factors and evidence really about?
When you dig a little deeper you see that a good number of the people who view things this way have been victims themselves or are close to a victim that did not receive justice or fair treatment. Since they had a horrible experience, they are sensitive to others whom they feel have gone or will go through the same situation. It is then that they show their support by unquestionably defending them even if there may be a lack of, extremely questionable or no evidence to substantiate the claim. Just like a fearless human who wants to save the world from the evil alien Kal-El or Superman no matter how much evidence he has contrary to that belief. However noble this may be, this isn’t justice. If justice was the result they were looking for, then the evidence, or lack thereof, has to be weighed and a reasoned conclusion has to be made even if that means that the accuser is proved or deemed incorrect.
This same tactic is used in a lot of other issues as well. Redefining the word racism and saying that people of color can’t be racist. Questioning a black woman even if the black woman is saying or doing something questionable is misogyny and erasure. Not specifically mentioning or advocating for other oppressed groups is ignoring intersectionality. A white person doing anything that black people usually or historically do is appropriation. Just to name a few. Not falling in line with these viewpoints is proof of your lack of support or even hatred of those groups no matter what you say or is presented. Finally, in order to write you off completely, you are publicly shamed and cyber bullied, with the results reported to their group to demean your character with tactics might I add, that are similar to the groups they say they are “fighting” against.
Imagine a world that was run with these absolute standards. It wouldn’t be much different of that than the world we live in today. The representatives and the agendas would be different, but overall, the inequalities and injustice would remain the same, just in reverse. The worst part about it all, is that we ask our allies and those that don’t understand these issues to listen and learn, as they should, but who are they listening and learning from? Revenge and justice are mutually exclusive ideas, you can have one but not both so they shouldn’t be viewed in the same light. Since we know that justice isn’t the end goal for some of these warriors, we have to call them something different. Social warrior mercenaries, vigilantes, rebels, pirates, whatever term you like, just take justice out of it.
Personally, from my experience, I’m going to call them social warrior super villains. They philosophically may have the same fight and ideals in mind, but their outlook and ways they go about achieving their goals, especially when disagreed with, in no way resembles justice. It resembles all the traits of a classic super villain. Egotistical, bitter and constantly seeking revenge, in the name of their form of justice and all that is good to them in their minds. They are egotistical because they are able to gather a following and mold those followers to their viewpoint which gives them a sense of power and self-importance. They are bitter because they fight so hard for their cause due to a past wrong that was never made right or the system of justice failed them in some way if at all. They are consistently seeking revenge because of the past wrong and are always being shot down when fighting for it or find examples of the same injustice happening other places that fuels their fire. All of these put together with an absolutist mindset to separate people by and BOOM, there’s your super villain. At this point, all they would need is a secret lair and the analogy is complete!
To be honest, I understand why people would feel this way and act like this. All these powerful and necessary movements are popping up with different and important issues being discussed. People are gaining recognition, love and support from all over the world via social media. People are wanting to learn and understand these issues and want to learn from people who can teach them best. They have a gripe with the world and think they can help “save” it by brainwashing people into their absolutist revenge filled agenda. Well, one of the greatest science fiction scholars, Obi-Wan Kenobi, once said: “Only a Sith deals in absolutes.” Even though he taught his student this, that student ended up on the dark side anyway and became the most nefarious leader of an oppressive intergalactic empire in all of science fiction. I don’t want that to happen to our movement, so I hope this trend ends. Now, you have the ability to notice it to.