Bioethics Blogs

Where’s the Social Justice?

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

Picking up a newspaper or clicking to your favorite news site could lead one to believe that the U.S. is entering a civil war along racial divides. For 6 days in a row in Chicago, protestors have marched against police brutality—specifically police shooting young, black men. Then a former soldier tried to kill white cops in Dallas. And a shooting inside of a gay club in Orlando takes many LGBT and allies lives. The news media has drawn this debate as a racial one—cops targeting minorities; minorities targeting minorities; and the disaffected targeting law and order. At the heart of all this violence is social injustice—poverty, stigmatization, and a growing acceptability of civil undiscourse.

So where are the voices in bioethics arguing for social justice? Where are the OpEds and special journal issues looking at gun control, improving schools, destigmatizing social conditions? Where is the support for urging Congress to remove the federal ban on gun research or declaring violence a public health issue? Instead we write letters urging the IOC to cancel the Olympics based on concern about Zika (a move that financially and politically is unlikely to happen. Although this makes great press, it does not really change lives. And to be transparent, I did sign that letter). I do not read all of the literature, but as a scholarly group that has a strong public presence, we have been remarkably silent on these issues. This lack of interest in larger social issues has even led some individuals to resign from ASBH.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.