Has Daniel Penny Turned Conservatives into Social Justice Warriors?

3 min readMay 26
Photo by Austrian National Library on Unsplash

When an accused person goes through the judicial process, we use the phrase “brought to justice.” According to this viewpoint, the fact that the accused had their day in court defines justice, not the verdict.

Social justice advocates have a different perspective. The powerless and the vulnerable should be favored in judicial decisions.

Law-and-order types on the right typically uphold the process, while their counterparts on the left are more concerned with socially just outcomes. The death of Jordan Neely has caused some conservatives to switch roles.

On May 1st, Jordan Neely, a homeless, mentally ill 30-year-old black man, got on a New York subway car and started acting erratic and belligerent, but Daniel Penny, a white 24-year-old ex-marine, came from behind Neely, took Neely to the ground, and kept Neely in a chokehold for several minutes.

Penny believed that by restraining Neely, he was protecting himself and the passengers from Neely’s hostile behavior, but Neely ended up dead. The medical examiner determined that the cause of death was compression of the neck.

Police questioned Penny and then released him without charges, prompting demonstrators to take to the streets of New York to demand for social justice; in other words, they wanted a white man prosecuted for murdering a black man.

Left-wing politicians, commentators, and influencers called Neely’s death a public lynching. They depicted Neely, a man who had been arrested 40 times for similar public disturbances in the previous decade, as a harmless homeless man who simply begged for food and water on the subway.

According to these leftists, Neely wasn’t merely the victim of an unwarranted chokehold; he was also the victim of a society that doesn’t care about the homeless or the mentally ill. Since proponents of social justice don’t — blame the victim — or believe the victim can play a part in their own demise, Penny’s actions can’t be considered self-defense because he initiated the confrontation.

Therefore, Penny should be charged with murder.

On May 12, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged Penny with second-degree manslaughter. Now…


J. Pharoah Doss is a columnist for the New Pittsburgh Courier.