I get emails occasionally from readers. This one interested me:
“I am a student at the University of Southern California’s M.A. program in occupational therapy. In 2010 our national organization, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), included Social Justice in our code of ethics. About 12 states incorporate by reference AOTA’s code of ethics as part of their licensing requirements, meaning that getting an occupational therapy license and keeping it requires adherence to social justice, which is a set of political values and a political agenda that is today associated with those who are termed left, liberal, or progressive. For example, the code of ethics states that we are to advocate for social justice, which requires an equitable distribution of resources to all individuals and groups. Professors also use the requirement as an excuse to teach “social justice activities” in class.”
Interesting. The email continues:
“This is actually a trend in all the health sciences today. My hope is that this trend can be stopped as it normalizes setting political litmus tests to practice a profession. In 2015 AOTA votes again on the contents of its code of ethics and I will be submitting a motion to remove the social justice requirement. I am working now to educate members on this issue before the 2015 vote.”
“One of the things that makes this a hard road to travel is that if I tell a health science student that social justice is a highly political concept used today to promote a left/liberal/progressive agenda, they easily shrug it off because of the way in which the material is presented to them. They are simply told things like, “social justice is about fairness in receiving society’s resources” or something equally bland and nice-sounding.”
The correspondent, by the name of Alex Duran, asked me to sign a statement with others opposing this. As a Brit, I am not sure whether any signature of support from me would be valid but I am happy to lend my voice to this issue. As the late FA Hayek famously pointed out, “social justice” is one of those question-begging terms that takes as given such ideas as the presumption in favour of equal distribution of wealth by some sort of “distributor”. It is not a neutral term – ideas of socialism and state ownership are baked into it. And while “justice” is a word that might mean something, “social justice” is very different.