My Opinion on Counselors for Social Justice
Recently some of the behaviors of Counselors for Social Justice have caused me to have grave doubts about the effectiveness of this organization. Hence this article is intended to ask the Counselors for Social Justice to evaluate what they endorse and what they promote, in hopes that change is enacted.
The fun part about trying to stay anonymous
is that I am writing an article specifically about how the CSJ
recently undermined free speech. Why must I remain
anonymous? Specifically because of how CSJ and other
so-called "social justice" groups behave. They have, and
will, hunt you down on social media, and then in real life if
they can figure out who you are. This is why I have an
anonymous website and do not reveal who I am: I've watched SJWs
target and harass people without even knowing them, merely
because they disagreed with them on something. Basically,
many SJW organizations have already become internet gangsters,
roving bands of thugs.
Recently some of those at my university who are apparently part of CSJ protested a conservative group coming to their campus. Universities are supposed to be places where we allow free speech, so long as it is not known to be completely unwholesome (for example, the KKK should not be welcome at our universities).
However, the problem is that this simple protest turned violent quickly. This should be unacceptable. If we really believe in freedom of speech and client autonomy, to allow this to take place is reprehensible.
Ironically, however, they then targeted the president of the university for "condoning" hate speech. So then they protested the president through a walk-out. (Sort of ironic when you chose to go to a university to learn, if you believe that learning should make you less biased.) I also faced the exclusionary speech of a fellow student whose only complaint was that I didn't advocate for a vulnerable population the same way they did.
The Ethics of Social Justice: Violence
The first problem with all of this is that counselors and future counselors should be against violence in all forms. This sounds logical, but the subtle way that the SJW has not advocated for peaceful protests is a big part of this. Scanning their website, I could find no place where they called for others to be peaceful. They often use phrases like "We commit to be co-conspirators in this fight for justice." The problem is this: how do we fight? Why use a word like "fight"? What is meant by this? What does it look like in practice to "fight" for social justice?
Because if you aren't clear to the masses, just as if you are not clear to a client in therapy, you could get any of a million results ranging in extremes from no result to violence. And as therapists who should counsel, among others, domestic abusers, how can we advocate for non-violence if we just got done being arrested for assaulting a police officer the day before? Isn't that hypocrisy?
There are several reasons why violence almost never enacts social justice. The first of which I have already hinted at: it's hypocrisy. You can't advocate for stopping the violence against a marginalized group of people by engaging in violence. Now, in a very very limited situation, such as to stop a lynching, violence might be required. The laws of our nation seem to support (and should support) lethal force to stop murder and rape. I wouldn't hesitate to put a bullet in a rapist if caught in the act, and I wouldn't hesitate to take a bullet to defend the innocent, such as in a school shooting.
However, for all other reasons, violence gets us nowhere. The second reason why it doesn't work is that it often escalates the problem. If the last protest of some group resulted in mere physical violence, that group may decide next time to come armed to protect themselves. Escalation is the result.
The Ethics of Social Justice: Slander
Another way in which social justice movements often go astray is that they engage in slander. It's cliche, but it happens so often that it's almost comical. Inevitably, those who don't get what they want in protest, or even before protest begins, slander their opponents, from simple name-calling to accusations of unethical behavior that cannot be substantiated.
This is even more poignant with counselors and future counselors because we are supposed to be teaching our clients holistic and adaptive ways to handle their emotions. Often, our clients come in after having been insulted by family or friends. We have to help them process how they've been harmed or verbally abused. We have to help them understand boundaries and how to prevent future harm. To be insulting and slandering people we don't agree with on Saturday but then try to help clients learn how to avoid being verbally abused while not engaging in verbal abuse themselves is hypocritical.
Second, counselors and future counselors have or are learning about the powerful effect of learning through modeling. We often must model the behavior and the change that we want clients to adopt. Would it not undermine our therapy if a client sees a photo of us in the news, carrying a sign that insults someone we don't agree with, if we were going to help the client learn how to use "I" statements rather than insult someone? If we cannot be the adaptive and whole person we want our clients to become, what's the point?
The Ethics of Social Justice: Outcomes
Finally, I feel this must be said. Many of the protests against police violence have recently turned violent in our nation. People's businesses have been vandalized and ransacked, their livelihoods destroyed, their cars burned, and even beat up just because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time for a protest that turned into a riot.
First, if we were participating in the protest and it became violent, we contributed to the problem, even if indirectly. We should be the advocates within the protesters for people to not engage in violence. We should be the ones asking our fellow protesters to refrain from violence.
Second, if we do not do this, or we make the problem worse, we are indirectly (if not directly) then responsible for all harmful outcomes. It is hypocritical for us to be involved in a riot on Saturday that results in people losing their livelihoods and being traumatized but then on Monday we're trying to help clients heal from trauma.
Two wrongs never make a right. It would be equally as wrong to reveal the client information of a bad person (e.g. criminals who are or have been punished by the judicial system) to someone in order to have that bad person "roughed up." But yet if we're out there stoking the fires of violence through our actions, what good have we done? And how is it that different?
Conclusion and Recommendations
If we are going to be ethical counselors or future counselors, we must refrain from unethical actions. This includes how we advocate for people. Here is my advice to the CSJ:
- The "About" page for CSJ should include a statement on how to be ethical in protest. It should encourage people to not engage in violence.
- It should encourage counselors and future counselors to care how they cause our career field to be perceived. Slander, violence, threats, and rioting should not be a part of our behaviors.
- It should explain how counselors and future counselors can best advocate (links and referrals, among other things) for their clients politically and socially. It's not enough to say what we don't do: we should list our positive behaviors.
This is why I didn't sign up for CSJ in the
first place when someone told me about it. To be honest, I
had to stifle a laugh when they told me about CSJ. The
pamphlet they handed me had pictures of the George Floyd
protests, with a protester wearing a scarf holding a Molotov
Cocktail. Yeah, no thanks. Violence isn't the answer
and never has been.