God still speaking through asses: a NYT breaking report

Dear H-,

The New York Times ran an article the other day called Does God want you to spend $300,000 on college?  But God couldn't be reached for comment, so the New York Times went to Notre Dame's Father John L Jenkins; and when Father Jenkins' response was unsatisfactory to the reporter, the reporter went to himself.  It seems a better question would have been does God want us to pay reporters to look for God when we could just ask The New York Times reporters?  To which the answer would invariably be that He did, because The New York Times paid one.

These questions seem silly but at their core they're serious.  The New York Times wasn't alone in reaching their decision about the $300,000 payment because they had the help of the catechism.  And inside this catechism they found a passage, which said that social justice was ensuring every man was “able to get his due.”

What exactly this due is has yet to be defined; but if we were to take a guess, we'd say that different men would come up with different answers.  This is the reason we have "just” and “unjust” answers in the first place.  For instance, what’s due from a student who thinks Notre Dame is worth $300,000?  The still, small voice within us says $300,000.  What do we owe somebody who thinks we should give every man what's coming to him?  No comment could be gotten from Father Jenkins, but the book of Revelation leads me to believe it's the apocalypse.

What The New York Times conveniently forgot to mention is that the concept of dues is usually subjective.  Many uptight writers, bad singers, boring podcasters and holy men think it’s the duty of others to listen to them, and it's the opinion of others that we shouldn't.  In fact most people probably rate themselves higher than they deserve, and the only ones to tell them otherwise are everybody else.  

Our bosses think we should get less and we think we should get more; the artist thinks his work is better than all the other works and most other artists don’t; and the mother thinks her kid is more special than all the other children — which leads her to get in fights with the other mothers.  Likewise, The New York Times thinks its opinions are the same ones as God's.  And the one thing standing between us and an army of $75-an-hour burger-flippers and self-declared prophets is that we get to value what we value at the rate that we value it, and if somebody tries charging us more, we walk.  We choose, not them.  And when the tables turn and we begin asserting our values to others, they choose, not us.

Social justice stands against this idea of liberty.  At its core, social justice is a tyranny of valuation.  It says, in effect, that someone's going to tell you how to feel about someone and that you have a duty to believe it.  It doesn't matter how you actually feel.  It doesn't matter if someone else is willing to pay you $300,000 because they agree with you.  What matters is that somebody even further removed, some spiritually enlightened micro-meddler, decides for you whether someone is pretty or praiseworthy or useful or brilliant; whether you owe them your time or your money or your body or your worship — that you're a tool for the furthering of somebody else; not a thinking, breathing, loving, hating, dreaming being of the highest nature in nature, and that you ought to be respected as such*.

Social justice is asking how “God” values Notre Dame instead of asking how you value it.  And when God isn't available for comment (surprise!) it asks a person to value it for you.  It doesn't matter whether Notre Dame charges a hundred or a million.  It matters whether this person, who isn’t you, who doesn't care about what you care about or share your religion or love your children or work as hard as you worked to earn what you earn or to build the college you built, agrees with the charge.  

As such the question in social justice is never actually how much is charged or how you should feel.  The question is who will decide it.


*Am I saying what it looks like I'm saying, that the individual can never be right against the majority?  No — hell no.  The majority is no more infallible than the individual; and in many cases it's worse.  As Nietzsche famously put it, Madness is something rare in individuals — but in groups, parties, peoples, and ages, it is the rule.

There have been many times when a society was unworthy of a hero or an artist or a genius.  But when it comes to common things, like when the average man submits a statement of himself or his product to the world, the safest way to go about it is to let the other average men weigh in themselves.  Democracy and capitalism aren’t the answer to ego — or to even to bad taste.  They only happen to be the best at keeping them from getting too insane.