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The Ethics of Community Intervention

The Ethics of Community Intervention

A reader (who is not the author) sends along this post by Dan Hicks (Western Ontario) on how to discuss issues like those that have come up recently.

What I am interested in here is the general social practice of mass criticism — “calling out,” shaming, ostracizing, or ridiculing a (perceived) wrongdoer — especially when it takes place outside of established formal institutions and uses emerging media (blogs, Twitter). One of the issues raised by the two controversies is whether this practice is ethical. Calling the practice “vigilante justice” or “toxic” implies that it is not. But it seems clear to me that in some cases it can be — civil rights marches, union picket lines, and petition campaigns are the same kind of practice, just done without early twenty-first century media.

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