January 21, 2016 commentary 2 min read

From Bradely Kuhn back in December:

If you follow the types of Free Software politics and issues that I do (which you probably do if you read my blog) you have heard the phrase — which has become globally common in general politics — “Social Justice Warrior”, often abbreviated SJW. As anyone who reads my blog probably already knows, SJW is used as a derogatory catch-all phrase referring to anyone who speaks up to on any cause, but particularly on racial or gender inequality.

First of all, I believe deeply in social justice causes. I care about equality, fairness, and justice for everyone. I believe software freedom is a social justice cause, and I personally have proudly called software freedom a social justice cause for more than a decade.

Second, I also believe in the zealous pursuit of causes that matter. I’ve believed fully and completely in non-violence since the mid-1980s, but I nevertheless believe there is a constant war of words in the politics surrounding any cause or issue, including software freedom. I am, therefore — for lack of a better word — a warrior, in those politics.

So, when I look at the three words on their face: Social. Justice. Warrior. Well, denotively, it describes my lifelong work exactly.

In my experience, I see the “SJW” phrase thrown around the most by people who also see themselves as an activist for free software. I applaud Bradley using his position of influence to call out that this activisim is a call for social justice.

For some reason, it reminds me of George Carlin’s bit on your stuff, their shit: you are an activist, they’re a SJW.

@erikostrom pointed out this amazing piece by Joseph Scrimshaw: The Worst Insult Ever.

This content is open source. Suggest Improvements.


avatar of Brandon Keepers I am Brandon Keepers, and I work at GitHub on making Open Source more approachable, effective, and ubiquitous. I tend to think like an engineer, work like an artist, dream like an astronaut, love like a human, and sleep like a baby.