March 04, 2011

Steve Pomper

Bottom Line: Social Justice is Incompatible with Equal Justice.

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Some issues are “bottom line” issues; this is one of those. Bottom line: social justice is not compatible with equal justice. In fact, the two concepts are mutually exclusive. If a church or some private organization chooses to practice social justice because they espouse the view that one group of people deserves special treatment over another that is their right. However, when the government endeavors to do this, no matter how well meaning, it is not the way we do things in America, where the government mandate is to treat people equally.

A government’s practicing social justice is based on a premise that holds some groups of people have been mistreated, so these groups deserve special treatment by government. There is no doubt some groups have been treated horrendously in the past. But hasn’t the fight been toward equal treatment and equal justice for all?

Even if we were to agree that social justice was well meaning, we have to ask, where does it end? Several years back Seattle conducted a racial profiling study of its police. The charge was that officers were not treating all people equally, and specifically were targeting enforcement against minorities. The “correction” emphasis was on the police treating people equally, and not using race as a factor to enforce the laws. I, and I contend most police officers, agree with this tenet, and act accordingly. Incidentally, the study failed to find institutional racial profiling. That study, which was not pleasing to police critics, apparently crawled into some dark corner and died.

Now we find ourselves in a situation where the emphasis is no longer on treating people equally, as Seattle’s City Attorney so surprisingly, and passionately, stated recently on a national news program. So, where does this logically end? If we believe that certain groups should be treated differently—better—than others, for how long should that benefit (to one group of people) and punishment (of another group of people) last? At what point will the “debt” be paid? And who will determine those things?

Social justice is simply not equal justice. In fact, it seems more about some amorphous attempt to exact restitution, reparation, or perhaps even retribution, but in no way is it about the core values most Americans hold dear: liberty and equal protection under the law.

It seems the better race relations become, the harder the civil rights, crisis entrepreneurs work to widen any racial divides and create general discontent. They conflate individual racism, which certainly exists, and is likely to always exist to some degree in every racial group, with institutional racism, which America has worked very hard to eliminate. Deal with racist individuals of all races, appropriate for the circumstances—and individually.

Finally. So there is no mistake. I don’t believe in social justice, because it does not allow me to treat people equally. I believe in equal justice and have always endeavored to make it my trademark in dealing with the people of Seattle. I always do so not only because the Constitution and Rule of Law mandates it, but also because it is the right thing to do.


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