The search for “justice” isn’t easy. The raw politics of achieving it are complex enough. Trying to define it—to find its philosophical and moral underpinnings—is harder still. But there is one very simple rule of thumb that will make this job easier: Anyone who attempts to define “justice” as “Whatever allows me to maintain my position atop the cultural hierarchy unchallenged” is a fucking fraud.
I say this, of course, in the context of today’s letter, published in Harper’s and signed by more than 100 of the worst people in the world of public intellectualism, titled “A Letter on Justice and Open Debate.” The letter is certainly not about any reasonable definition of “Justice,” and is about Open Debate only to the extent that people who make very healthy salaries arguing in public for a living seem to have a bizarre aversion to being argued against. This aversion, I’m afraid, now borders on the pathological. We have entered a brave new world in which those waving the banner of “Free Speech” accuse their opponents of being unable to take criticism while waging a histrionic campaign against anyone who dares to criticize them. Accusing your opponents of doing exactly what you are yourself guilty of is a classic propaganda technique. It works well, unfortunately.