So, I just read how the hacker “group” Anonymous has been publicly outing members of the KKK. This has been variously accompanied by triumphalist celebrations by some people on the political Left. “Yay … justice … woo-hoo …”
I find such behavior singularly disgusting, both the outing and the celebration of it. When homosexuals are outed against their will – sometimes with devastating consequences – this is an intolerable violation of those persons’ privacy and lives. But when “we” do something similar, it is “justice”! When workers and protectors at a Planned Parenthood clinic have their faces, their families, their home addresses plastered all over the internet, this is a violent attack on their persons and safety. But when “we” do it, it is “justice”. Because, “obviously,” “we” are “good” guys, and “they” are “bad” people.
How is it that the question of right or wrong is exhausted by answering whether or not we are the one’s doing it? The question is obviously rhetorical, and the answer is, “obviously, it is not.”
There are numerous examples of nominally wrong actions being done for right reasons such that those reasons suffice to (arguably, at least) justify those actions. To kill another person is wrong, but if that killing occurred in the course of self-defense or the protection of innocent people, it will generally be viewed as a justifiable homicide. Violating the law is typically viewed as wrong, but when the law itself is unjust and immoral, then violating that law can itself become a moral duty. This is the leverage I wish to apply to the actions of Anonymous toward the KKK. My instrument of choice here is one of the most tightly reasoned moral arguments of the last century: Dr. King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Continue reading →