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The Social Justice trend has appeared in recent years, and has rapidly gained momentum.
It appeared first on college campuses, where students accused a professor or, indeed, another student, of making a statement or using a word that was deemed socially unacceptable. The premise by the accuser was that a campus must be a safe space, where people should not be exposed to comments that may possibly make anyone feel demeaned or uncomfortable.
The accusers have earned the name “snowflakes,” as they tend to melt down at the slightest provocation. However, the Social Justice trend has given snowflakes considerable power, a power that’s often used recklessly.
Importantly, whether the offensive comment is correct or incorrect is not an issue. The “offense” is that the speaker has stated something that should not ever be mentioned, as it might upset the listener in some way. The “justice” that takes place is that one or more people file a formal complaint with a person or body that holds power over the speaker and demand that he be punished for his “wrongdoing.”
This has led to teachers and professors being warned, suspended, or fired from their positions, based merely on the existence of a complaint. In addition, “offending” students have been warned, suspended, or expelled, again, without what might be regarded as due process.
A related form of Social Justice is the vigilantism seeking to destroy those who are prominent. Former Miss Americas demanded that the entire board of the Miss America Pageant be dismissed for making disparaging remarks about pageant contestants. Several have been forced to resign in disgrace.
And, of course, we’re seeing the rise of complaints against actors, politicians, and other prominent individuals regarding alleged sexual denigration of women, even if it’s merely verbal. In each case, witnesses are “bravely coming forward,” en masse, although they often were silent for decades (if, indeed, the individual incidents ever occurred at all).
Whether a given individual has actually committed a crime or not seems immaterial in the new Social Justice trend. The focus is on vehement condemnation of an individual, usually by a host of others. Importantly, regardless of what process is used to prosecute (or persecute) those accused, a general assumption of the Social Justice trend is that, once someone is accused, he’s guilty and punishment must take place.
But, in fact, this trend is not new. Rabid groups of accusers appear throughout history, generally during times of existing social tension.
In 1692, several young girls claimed to be possessed by witches and
group hysteria ensued. Some 150 men, women and children were ultimately
accused and nineteen were hanged. Governor William Phips ordered that an
end be put to the show trials in 1693. In the process, his wife was
accused of being a witch.