The public response to Kobe Bryant’s sudden death yesterday has been largely appropriate: grief mixed with tribute to the man and his greatness as a basketball player.
However, some, predictably, have used his death to push their social justice agenda: mourn the athlete but never the man, because Mr. Bryant forever lost the right to be a victim (even in death) when he was accused of rape in 2003:
Being a wonderful father – that’s not absolution. There’s so much more Bryant could have done: at the very least, he could have spoken publicly, especially as sexual violence began to drive the news cycle in sports and elsewhere over the past five years, about respecting women. Instead, he told the world to respect women’s sports – an important sentiment that falls a mile short…
He moved on – perhaps more completely than he should have been allowed to so completely.
Underlying this tone-deaf Guardian article is the inescapable illogic of social justice’s mandatory prescriptions.
THE MORAL ENDS JUSTIFY THE IMMORAL MEANS
Any decent human being knows that, absent a history of Nazi-like evil, you don’t use the horrible, untimely death of a young person to dredge up their public demons. You mourn their martyrdom and move on. Leave the brickbats to later biographers protected by decency of time.
Social justice, however, is a compulsory project of moral reform to make better humans. This “noble” goal justifies and often demands the sacrifice of traditional human decency in its necessary service. “Good” and “right” thus become victims of ideological perspective.
LET THE SLEEPING DEAD LIE
The (il)logical spine of social justice is its victimization hierarchy: socially problematic or criminal acts are exponentially more sinful if they are committed by someone inherently privileged against someone inherently vulnerable. Nuanced moral evaluation is replaced by the iron ladder of the victim hierarchy.
Kobe Bryant was a man, a rich, powerful athlete—the definition of privilege. In 2003 he may have raped a woman (who was inherently vulnerable due to her gender). He said the sex was consensual; she said it wasn’t. He settled her civil action and she dropped her charges against him. The facts were never tested in court.
Regardless, for social justice, it’s their divergent locations on the victimization hierarchy that make his potential sin unforgivable. More, it makes their victimizations equal: her alleged rape is at least commensurate with his fiery helicopter death. Consequently, to social justice warriors, trashing Bryant and his legacy at the moment of his death was compulsory, decent, and, perversely, the right thing to do.
YOUR BROKEN MORAL COMPASS IS SHOWING
Those of us not shackled to the straitjacket of social justice know better.
If your first reaction to the tragic helicopter death of a famous father and his daughter is “ya, but what about those bad things he may have done 16 years ago”, you’re wrong.
To social justice warriors:
1. Social justice is a compulsory project of moral reform to make better humans.
2. The noble goal of creating better humans often requires the sacrifice of human decency.
3. Any negative act committed by someone higher on the social justice hierarchy (a man) against someone vastly lower on the hierarchy commits a permanent moral sin.
4. Because Kobe Bryant resided substantially higher on the intersectional hierarchy than his alleged sexual assault victim, social justice forces justice warriors to act indecently by equally juxtaposing his death against his possible victim’s possible sex assault trauma. Gross.