But what if we wanted to come up with the briefest definition possible, one that captured the essence of what it means to be a social justice warrior without getting bogged down in all the details and behavioral examples. Such a brief definition might have utility, especially when responding to questions about what the term means. But what might such a definition look like?
This is merely a starting point for the purpose of generating discussion, but I think a brief definition might look something like this:
A social justice warrior is someone who actively condemns and seeks to harm those who express socio-political views contrary to his or her own while claiming to promote social justice.In unpacking this definition, we might note:
- For the social justice warrior, it is not enough to recognize that people are going to have different opinions on important socio-political issues (e.g., feminism, humanism, which political candidates one supports); those who disagree are immoral and deserving of punishment.
- The social justice warrior pursues active condemnation (e.g., the assignment of inflammatory labels, name calling, personal insults) of those who disagree.
- The social justice warrior aims to inflict harm on those who do not share his or her views, usually by attempting to damage the target's reputation, status, or livelihood.
- The social justice warrior justifies his or her behavior on the grounds that it is perceived as advancing a valuable social justice agenda (e.g., eradicating social ills such as sexism or racism).
Thanks to constant outrage, self-righteous indignation, and the absolute conviction that one is in the right and that dissenters are "part of the problem," the social justice warrior is able to transform persons who disagree or cause offense into agents of evil. Those who disagree are "part of the problem," meaning that they stand in the way of progress. This makes them bad people, and bad people deserve what they get. Thus, the social justice warrior is able to inflict harm on others while avoiding guilt. He or she may even manage to feel quite content with his or her maltreatment of others.
Does the brief definition above capture the core of what you mean by "social justice warrior" or is it too brief to do so? If it is too brief, what would you add?