Selective outrage is a term used to describe the phenomenon where people are more likely to express outrage or criticism towards someone they don’t like, while ignoring similar or even worse behavior from someone they do like. This is a very real phenomenon that is prevalent in our society, and it has significant implications for how we view justice, fairness, and social norms.
One of the most glaring examples of selective outrage is how differently people are treated based on their social status, wealth, or political affiliation. Celebrities and politicians who are well-liked and well-connected are often given a pass for their bad behavior, while ordinary people are more likely to face consequences for similar actions.
For example, in recent years, there have been numerous cases of wealthy parents buying their children’s way into elite universities by bribing coaches or cheating on exams. While some of these parents have faced consequences, others have been let off the hook or given a slap on the wrist. This is a clear example of selective outrage, where the wealthy and well-connected are given preferential treatment.
Another example of selective outrage is the way that people react to issues of social justice. For example, when a member of a minority group is the victim of a hate crime or police brutality, there is often a significant outcry and demand for justice. However, when the same thing happens to a member of a majority group, the reaction is often muted or non-existent. This is a clear example of selective outrage, where people are more likely to express outrage when the victim is someone they identify with or sympathize with.
One of the most recent examples of selective outrage is the difference in how the Jan 6 protests at the US Capitol were handled compared to the months of protests in Portland, Oregon.
During the Jan 6 protests, a group of supporters of then-president Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol building, causing damage and forcing lawmakers to evacuate. This was a serious and disturbing event, and it rightfully received significant media coverage and condemnation from both sides of the political aisle.
However, the response to the Jan 6 protests was significantly more intense than the response to the months of protests in Portland, where demonstrators clashed with police and caused significant property damage. The protests in Portland were largely ignored by mainstream media and received little condemnation from political leaders, despite the fact that they were ongoing for months and caused significant harm to local communities.
This discrepancy in how the two events were covered and responded to is a clear example of selective outrage, where people are more likely to express outrage when the perpetrator is someone they don’t like or identify with. The Jan 6 protests were overblown and given more attention than they deserved, while the protests in Portland were given a pass.
This is not to say that the Jan 6 protests were not serious or worthy of attention, but rather that the response to them was disproportionate and inconsistent with the response to similar events in the past. It is important to recognize and confront selective outrage whenever we see it, and to hold everyone to the same standards of behavior and accountability.
The consequences of selective outrage are far-reaching and often negative. It undermines our faith in the justice system, creates divisions between different groups of people, and perpetuates social inequality. It is therefore important to recognize and confront selective outrage whenever we see it, and to hold everyone to the same standards of behavior and accountability.
In conclusion, selective outrage is a very real phenomenon that is prevalent in our society. It is a symptom of larger social problems, such as inequality, privilege, and bias. By recognizing and confronting selective outrage, we can work towards a more just and fair society where everyone is held to the same standards of behavior and accountability.