My evil twin brother Jasper recently demanded I give him some space on this blog. Normally, I’d refuse, but I forgot his birthday again, so I owe him one.
You shouldn’t read this post. If you do so, you are a bad person. Anyway, here’s Jasper:
A great deal of social justice activism is ridiculous. Why?
1. It’s a false-flag conspiracy. Perhaps far right-wing evildoers are behind it all. The purpose of social justice activism is to undermine public support for genuinely worthwhile social justice causes by making social justice activism appear ridiculous. The silly ideas crowd out the good ones.
Activists: “Some pop star dressed up in traditional Japanese clothing. The Japanese aren’t pissed off by that, but we are!”
Public response: “Prison reform? Meh. That’s just something pushed by those goofballs that get mad when white pop stars wear kimonos.”
2. Moral Princesses. In “The Princess and the Pea,” the prince believes that real princesses are so sensitive that a single pea place under 25 feet of bedding will disrupt their sleep. The general idea is that real princesses are sensitive to irritations that wouldn’t bother crude commoners.
Expanding on this idea, some people wish to signal that they are, for lack of a better phrase, moral princesses. They are so sensitive to moral concerns that they are enraged by things the rest of us crude commoners do not even notice. By frequently expressing their sensitivity, they thereby prove they are better than everyone else. (See this paper on moral grandstanding for more.)
Regular person: “Mmm, chicken tikka masala is delicious.”
Activist: “I can’t eat that, as doing so makes me complicit in the British colonialist legacy.”
3. It’s a Power Grab. Students protest. The university gives in. How? By raising $100 million to fund 25 professorships in the departments where the students learned the ideas behind their protests. Hmmm. Maybe Jay’s department should try to induce a few protests. Sounds lucrative.
Or, consider how a few years back Linda Alcoff pushed a dishonest “pluralist guide” for philosophy programs, in which she accused leading programs of sexism (without evidence) and instead tried to promote her own program and those of her intellectual allies. Alcoff was trying to win power and prestige for herself, her allies, and her philosophical genre.
Or, take the recent Tuvel case. It just so happens that a large number of the signatories are low status people who espouse a low status, heterodox philosophical methodology. But getting their way would help them win power and prestige, or at least help ensure that they maintain a monopoly on a particular topic.
….Or so Jasper says. I can’t believe you read that. You’re a bad person.