Are You Guilty of “Virtue-Signaling?”

British author James Bartholomew has secured his place in history. Recently, he invented the perfect phrase for our times: “virtue signaling.”

Virtue signaling is the popular modern habit of indicating that one has virtue merely by expressing disgust or favor for certain political ideas, cultural happenings, or even the weather. When a liberal goes on a tirade about how dumb and dangerous Senator and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is—a tirade devoid of specific examples of Cruz’s mendacity—that person is actually signaling to others that he or she is virtuous. It has very little to do with Cruz’s actually personality or record.

Celebrities who publicly express panic about the environment without knowing much about science are virtue signaling. So are those who seize on current events to publicize their supposedly virtuous feelings, as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg did recently when he wrote on Facebook: “If you’re a Muslim in this community, as the leader of Facebook I want you to know that you are always welcome here and that we will fight to protect your rights and create a peaceful and safe environment for you.” Well, that’s a relief—Facebook won’t be banning Muslims.

Modern virtue signaling began in the 1960s, when cultural leftism overthrew not just the conservatism of the 1950s but also the vital center of liberalism. Conservatives and moderate liberals had done plenty of virtue signaling of their own, and a lot of it was based on racism and hatred of homosexuality, but a lot of it was also grounded in reason and truth. William F. Buckley, Richard Nixon, and Whittaker Chambers were right about communism. Moderate liberals also favored research and analysis over slogans. Liberal Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s 1965 report, “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” predicted the catastrophe that would befall the black community as a result of broken families.

The New Left of the 1960s was more about rage than reason, and they passed their anger down to their Millennial offspring. Often the entire front page of left-leaning websites like Slate and Salon are nothing but virtue signaling, the headlines all variations of: Celebrity/Politician/Activist A Just Destroyed the Homophobic/Sexist/Racist Idiocy of Politician B. Usually the articles are jeremiads without much reporting. If research is going to buzzkill your virtue signaling, well then, to hell with research.

But then, virtue signaling is not about journalism. It’s a way to vent your anger. As James Bartholomew describes:

Its noticeable how often virtue signalling consists of saying you hate things. It is camouflage. The emphasis on hate distracts from the fact you are really saying how good you are. If you were frank and said, ‘I care about the environment more than most people door ‘I care about the poor more than others, your vanity and self-aggrandizement would be obvious. . . . Anger and outrage disguise your boastfulness.

One of the most appalling examples of this appeared recently on the Huffington Post. In “Dear Islamophobes: Your Racism is Putting Us all in Danger,” writer Ryan Grim, who failed to marshal research, conduct interviews, or consult polls, declared:

Anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim political parties in Europe have stirred up a tremendous amount of Islamophobia there, and such attitudes naturally drive feelings of anger and betrayal. For a young man or woman on the edge, it can be just enough to push them into radicalization, and it’s not a coincidence that Europe has seen far more homegrown attacks. Yet we here in the U.S. seem to be barreling headlong for that same cliff.

It’s delivered like Holy Writ, without sourcing or self-reflection or doubt: Islamophobia is declared irrational, blamed for producing feelings of anger and betrayal in Muslims, which then pushes young people “on the edge” towards radicalization. No need to dive into data about Muslim attitudes about jihad. No need to examine the contradiction of liberals who argue that vulgar elements of pop culture have no effect on people, even people “on the edge.”

Bravo, James Bartholomew. You have invented a useful and timely neologism. Hopefully it will lead to public awareness of or disgust with virtue signaling, which is both obnoxious and intellectually lazy. At the very least, it is a reminder that genuine virtue, pursued in everyday acts and often hard-won, isn’t likely to be found in places like The Huffington Post.


  • Rodrigo

    “Conservatives and moderate liberals had done plenty of virtue signaling
    of their own, and a lot of it was based on racism and hatred of

    On a related note to your piece here – cultural marxism (CM) does more than virtue signaling. It also re-defines words in order to place opposing viewpoints out of bounds in polite society. For example, the criticism of a particular sexual lifestyle does not, necessarily constitute an act of “hate”. For religious conservatives it was almost uniformly motivated by concern for the individuals who engaged in it. Nevertheless, you engage in your own virtue signaling by adopting false and misleading CM jargon as a concession lest you be attacked as a bad thinker.

    CM is a lie and exhibiting cowardice in it’s presence is not a path to it’s elimination from it’s on going revision of our culture. Christians are expected to be brave and therefore should be on the forefront of the elimination of lies and the father of them.

    • Aaron Petakia

      Find me even a single individual in the public eye who identifies as a cultural marxist.
      I dare you.
      This isn’t a self-identifier, it’s a label used to misrepresent and dismiss certain liberal ideas, and it’s applied in an incredibly broad and divisive manner.

      Now I will agree with you that regarding all forms of discrimination and bigotry as hate is *also* a way of misrepresenting and dismissing the concerns which underlie those views;
      I’m not opposed to discrimination and bigotry because of what I assume the underlying motives to be. I’m opposed to those things because they are unjust and socially damaging.

      All sides can do better, and there is a kernel of validity to your concerns;
      but if you’re a Christian, you ought to know:
      let he who is without sin among you cast the first stone.

    • Ennui

      ” For religious conservatives it was almost uniformly motivated by concern for the individuals who engaged in it.”
      I laughed so hard. The correct word here is “homophobia.”

  • The alt-right was using “virtue signalling” to describe false liberal virtue, in particular hashtag activism, at least as early as 2014.

    • Brad Bettin

      Perhaps . . . . There is something to be said for asking whether the purpose of a writer is to advance a solution or to tell the world he / she is a better person because he / she cares ….

      Humility is a good thing to have. It’s in very short supply.

      Self-righteous indignation, on the other hand – – – we have too much of that.

  • DudeAbiding

    This article clearly describes the source of pretty much the entire range of liberal thought.

  • scottwsomerville

    Professor Joseph Bottum wrote a book called “An Anxious Age” which suggests that all this modern “virtue signaling” is the new post-Protestant path to “salvation.” Bottum (a Catholic sociology professor) argues that old-fashioned Protestantism was always more about being “against” something (Popes, alcohol, rock and roll, etc) than “for” something. He claims that the “mainline Protestant church” of the 1950s, which dominated American culture, has morphed into the “social justice warriors” of the 2000s–not by revolutionary overthrow of one dominant culture by another, but by an evolution of anti-Catholic Protestants into anti-religious post-Protestans.

    • Robert

      Is Dr Bottum “virtue signaling” or are you?

    • TheProudDuck

      There may be something to that. American Protestantism, until its mainline variety went soft and proceeded to (mostly) die after World War II, did always seem to need to pick a good hearty fight — if not with the papists, then with the next Protestant sect over, who were obviously wrong on this or that minor theological point.

      When mainline Protestants lost their faith, all they had left was their combativeness.

    • William David Davenport

      So, there are no Catholic or Jewish virtue signalers?

      • psych495

        I think all groups do it to a degree. We all want people in our communities to believe that we think the right thoughts, and venerate the right type of persons.

  • Bandit

    This is different than sanctimony how?

  • Establishing credentials with your cultural group is a common practice. Adopting a catch phrase (virtue signaling) for the practice doesn’t add much. Keep in mind that the “religion” of the Democratic Party in America is to “End Suffering.” If you want to End Suffering and you Hate Republicans, you are automatically enrolled.

  • Virtue signaling is simply posing and posturing. It’s simply a way of saying, “Look at my virtue! Behold my benevolence! Admire my erudition!” It is sickening.

    • psych495

      That’s a good summary of the idea.

      Yes, it is sickening. Particularly to those of us who are more often than not held up as the objects of scorn.

  • octagon<3

    After the fall of the Soviet Union, there should have been a series of tribunals to prosecute the Stalinists, the Trotskyites, and the Marxists who committed crimes against humanity and country. Think of it as a Cold War Nuremberg. The Communists lost the fight yet they were never reprimanded for their crimes. Now their little red offspring, still angry at the West and looking for any kind of revolution to bash the status quo, are courting the same Islamic extremists that the right wing foreign policy hawks militarized in the ’70s and ’80s.

    These new middle-class white bourgeois leftists are willing to cozy up to patriarchal, homophobic, religious nutjobs and risk throwing the world back to the 7th century. Why? Because they are so spoiled and indoctrinated with self-hate and guilt they feel the need to drag the rest of the western world down with them to atone for the economic disparity created by their ancestors.

    Trigger warnings, virtue signaling, “freeze peach”, White privilege are all constituent phenomena of this self hating ideology. The irony is that it is the most elite colleges that promote this dogma and that its most ardent adherents are rich white liberals.

    • Jeff_Selbst

      You just did what you accuse your opponents of doing. The irony is amusing.

      • Travoltron

        How? You don’t know what irony is.

        • Jeff_Selbst

          Apparently you either can’t read or your comprehension is poor. He is doing the same “virtue-signaling” himself. The irony is that this is what he’s accusing someone of. Now read it again.

          • Travoltron

            Stating political opinion isn’t virtue signaling.

  • pp91303

    I noticed this years ago when my childlike, “liberal” friends fell all over themselves on Facebook to express their disdain or support for (as the case may be) the latest leftist meme du jour. I call it “moral preening” which is more pejorative that “virtue signaling”. This idiocy deserves every bit of criticism intelligent people can muster.

    • Generous_One

      And, is not what you just posted “virtue signaling”? When read through a virtue signaling filter, you seem to say, “I am not childlike as those liberals. I am better than posting a meme du jour. I am not the idiot they are. I am better than them.”

      Come on! Say it like you really feel it inside. You are so much better than them.

      • Brad Bettin

        right back atcha, chief ….

        Anyone who plays the “hypocrisy” card is claiming moral superiority ….

        Interesting, huh?

      • John Hodges

        You, like many others commenting here, fail to acknowledge, or possibly even realize, that there are some things that *ought* to be decried. The main point of the article was the lack of critical thought or support given when this is done.

      • mia

        Considering how perfectly pp91303 did EXACTLY what the article talks about, it had to be sarcasm…I mean no one could really be that much holier than thou after reading that article without doing it tongue in cheek. As soon as you start name calling you lose your credibility.

      • Travoltron

        Hey, idiot, is the OP also committing virtue signalling? If he’s just minding his own business, he is better than them.

      • Marie

        I’ll say it. I’m better than liberals. It’s a fact. I am better than you. I understood the article. You clearly do not.

    • Gum_ball_death

      Well, you’re sounding pretty child-like yourself, so your liberal friends are most-likely typing the same about you. Guess what? You’re both right.

  • Jim

    Mr. Judge is not self-aware enough to see that his jeremiad is itself virtue signaling. He implicitly makes a distinction between strongly expressed political opinions intended to signal personal worth to the like-minded, and opinions that are not guilty of that sin, on the basis of what i’ll call reasonableness.

    So let’s start with his origin myth of this supposed cultural aberration, namely that it sprang from the “rage” of the New Left. Sadly, he fails to present any evidence whatsoever that rage was the primary motive for most of the New Left, much less that unreason prevailed among its members, and even less than that, for the alleged temper-tantrum irrationalism the the New Left fathers and mothers infecting their offspring now going on several generations away, by some sort of cultural epigenetics.

    I knew some of the most extreme members of the New Left, and my experience was that by and large they could, and did, justify their views far more cogently that Mr. Judge has justified his own. And some were angry, some weren’t–like a lot of conservatives, and liberals, and adherents of any ideology whatsoever today. Possibly like Mr. Judge.

    You could say that today’s Days of Rage are playing out among ranchers angry at the BLM–but would it be reasonable to say this rage and irrationalism represents American conservatism today?

  • fleur_0

    This is interesting but not earth shattering. I don’t see the problem in aligning ourselves with the things we like or don’t like. It’s not as if we’re all journalists bound by a need to back up every feeling we have with peer-reviewed, documented, air-tight reasoning.

  • Imogen S.

    I’m surprised that no one has pointed out how trifling and idiotic this article is. It gives a name to a type of (probably universal) human behavior and assigns a judgement about that behavior, as though it were a clinical condition to be abetted. What basis is there for the judgmental tone of this article about not being accidentally judgmental? Without discernment and communication, society would surely crumble. What this article is champion is essentially Orwellian thought-policing, and it is so illogical and unsubstantiated that there’s very little to even pick apart.

    • DannyHi

      You’re mad… probably because you’re a full time virtue signaler.

  • Trisha Berube

    This article seems to state that a person cannot broadcast political feelings or opinions without some underlying reason of boasting their own personal virtues. I can’t imagine a time where I have ever talked about my political feelings in order to seem more virtuous than someone else. It’s always centered around a wish for things to be different, better for everyone, etc. I don’t even see THIS as virtuous or not, just that it is. I am positive that many people feel the same way I do – that politics and lawmaking and environmental issues are NOT about who is more virtuous. I guess if you are talking about religion or birth control, some people feel that we need to inject more religion and abstinence into the world, and that’s all about being virtuous – but that’s not how I feel at all.

  • Chester Copperpot

    Is this article meant to be ironic? It basically follows the same logical fallacies as the examples it states.

    • Gum_ball_death

      I thought the same. It’s possible to discuss virtue-signaling without virtue-signaling…which was clearly not a goal while the author was writing this piece. It’s also clear the author got beat up by a liberal in the past and has since been sour grapes.

  • Nicholas Sweeten

    Anyone that struts about pretending to be confident is just signalling falsely. A healthy ego doesnt need to prove confidence to others. Overt expressions are usually over-compensations put on for show, aimed primarily at convincing others that one has this quality or that quality. This is pretty well known in psychology already. Most people lie and lay false claim to virtues.

  • mia

    Most of these people who scream “Liberal”, “Conservative” are afraid.Seldom is fear reasonable. I know I often feel the “Conservatives” are hurting me as a worker and a consumer through the rights they want companies and the wealthy to have. Just the fact they call the social security I have paid into since I was 16 an entitlement drives me nuts since I thought that was part of my investment in my future, not welfare of some kind the way they paint it. I also feel the “liberals” are hurting me by taking the money I earn and giving it to others for everything from art programs to welfare. Liberals on the coast want to outlaw the studded tires I need to get to my house and refuse to consider that some of us live in places that cannot be accessed certain times of year without them. I do express some pretty strong opinions sometimes, most of it comes from a place of fear. After losing my job, and not being able to find a decent full time job to replace it. After losing over 50% of our 401K value. After discovering the government thinks we can afford to pay for collage for our kids, even though our basic cost of living with no extras, takes our entire income each month, I am afraid every time I turn on the news. The funny thing is, my friends who chose different fields and are still in the same good jobs they graduated collage for don’t see any problem. They are secure, or so they think. I am clinging to lower middle class by the skin of my teeth. It feels like just one more tax, one more expense, one more medical bill will tip us over the edge. No one is willing to look at why the other side feels the way they do. I think fear explains a lot of the conflict.

    • Vic Walker

      Mia, Social Security IS an “entitlement” technically, but the meaning has been warped to mean something bad. In your case, you are entitled to your SS because you earned it by paying for the care of the sick and elderly during your working life. To my mind, there’s nothing wrong with that kind of “entitlement!”

    • APR

      An entitlement is something that must be paid even if the Federal government has zero money. It is a word used to hide the fact that Washington has given up control over that spending. Almost 70% or more of the Federal budget is thus off-limits to budget negotiations–on “auto-pilot”.

  • tim hansen

    This article is spot on. It’s about people who spout off social justice slogans and nothing else. Just spout off. Recently had a talk with a progressive that was so proud he had purchased ‘humanely raised” beef. I told him the cow dies just the same. It would be more virtuous to be vegan or hunt, kill and slaughter the meat himself. He just responded, the cow it was raised humanely. Is that virtuous? To me he was just virtue-signaling.

  • Matthew Leo

    Irony detection apparently isn’t your long suit.

    • Travoltron

      And you don’t know what irony is.

  • Logan Morris

    This is the biggest load of unadulterated crap I’ve ever seen

  • wendykh

    I guess you’ve not heard of op ed…

  • Jared W

    Interesting read, and although I am appreciative in the
    overall point of the article, as some of it is reflective of my own sentiments,
    I find myself somewhat in conflict and therefore apprehensive to support it in its
    entirety. In reality “virtue signaling” is an ambiguous term, indeed,
    something that is hard to delineate.

    “… virtue signaling, which is both obnoxious and
    intellectually lazy. At the very least, it is a reminder that genuine virtue,
    pursued in everyday acts and often hard-won, isn’t likely to be found in places
    like The Huffington Post.” -In so far as I understand it, this statement
    reflects my sentiments.

    It is always been a noble character trait to ‘Seek First to
    Understand, Then to be Understood’. Ifwe approach our ‘understanding’ with our
    statement to be understood at the tip of our tongue, then we are running
    everything we read, are shown, or otherwise taught through this idea of ours,
    like a filter, rejecting what we will and dismissing other as ‘not applicable’
    we only strengthen our resolve even more and use the opposing views words
    against them. All sides profess themselves to be ‘open-minded’ but, in general,
    they fail at even the simplest form of understanding. But how can this be? It
    seems that the term “virtue signaling” refers to people that are
    greatly oppose to an issue, yet possess very little understanding of the issue
    especially the oppositions’ side of it.

    The article only touches briefly on the rebellious 60’s, and
    I find myself interpreting this through my own biases and understanding of the
    era, which I have researched and experienced somewhat; and I feel that it
    approaches my conclusions of the derivatives of the 60’s zeitgeist. It does
    seem, as Mark Judge seems to intimate, that this 60’s phenomenon has taken root
    in the future generations, enough so that we feel it today still. It has become
    something of a trend to be recalcitrant, by way of seeking out a progressively
    virtuous cause that is opposed to the cultural norm. It seems that sometimes
    this is done ‘willy-nilly’ with little understanding of the issues. And if they
    cannot find one they sometimes go to the extreme of inventing one.

    Not intimating that Mark was eluding to this; nevertheless,
    to say that the 60’s are at the root of our problems is simply false. Apropos
    to “virtue signaling”, in so far as given the qualifying statement,
    “Conservatives and moderate liberals had done plenty of virtue signaling
    of their own..”…”.. but a lot of it was also grounded in reason and
    truth.” is provided, I can certainly agree with!

    In short, I too grow very weary of emotionally based
    out-bursts of indignation from people in their support or opposition for a
    given cause that express little understanding of their own. Instead simply
    regurgitate what they have been fed rather than synthesizing their own
    understanding of it in their own words. I think many people are afraid to explore
    their own thoughts and understanding as they know that they don’t really
    understand the issue and just want to throw themselves in as a reactionary
    response in an effort to quickly overwhelm and bludgeon the opposition with
    their regurgitated Facebook post and likes! This is done in an equally annoying
    manner with both my conservative friends as well as my (so called) liberal friends.

    If I may conclude by saying, take pride of what you write
    and, therefore, research it well. Understand what it is you are reading.
    Understand the opposition. Then and only then, carefully and thoughtfully
    construct your response, if you feel that one is required. Invest the time to understand
    as well as to be understood. The path to understanding leads to peace on your
    behalf as well as for others. In an age of information, connectivity, and digital
    communication; indeed, there is no excuse for doing otherwise.

  • Australopithecene

    I think people are missing the point of the post. It isn’t saying that expressing your opinions or criticisms of an issue is virtue signalling in itself. It’s saying that people sometimes publicly avow an opinion, the effect of which they calculate on the chosen audience, in order to create an impression of themselves – not to shed light on an issue. The issue is used as a lens to focus on their own view of themselves. It’s accompanied by moral overtones – that is, some opinions are “good” and some opinions are “not good”, in a moral sense. The expressing of opinions that are perceived to be good by the target audience therefore attaches to the person expressing them. It gives them the approval of others. It’s like the opposite of trolling. Surely this is uncontroversial?

    A way to recognise this would be asserting something is “good” or “bad” without any qualifiers or explanation. It would have to be something that isn’t self-evidently bad, like murder, but something that has been valued in a cultural context, a code known to the listener. This would change over time and place. Another place you see it is in unqualified expressions of “disgust”. I can’t remember seeing “that’s disgusting” in response to ideas so much in my life as I do at the moment. It’s a really strong virtue signal, because it implies the speaker’s virtue is so entrenched in their personality that certain ideas cause physical revulsion.

    How can you read comments threads and deny this happens all the time? I’ve noticed it for ages, and was pleased to discover a term to describe it.

  • Australopithecene

    I think people are missing the point of the post. It isn’t saying that expressing your opinions or criticisms of an issue is virtue signalling in itself. It’s saying that people sometimes publicly avow an opinion, the effect of which they calculate on the chosen audience, in order to create an impression of themselves – not to shed light on an issue. The issue is used as a lens to focus on their own view of themselves. It’s accompanied by moral overtones – that is, some opinions are “good” and some opinions are “not good”, in a moral sense. The expressing of opinions that are perceived to be good by the target audience therefore attaches to the person expressing them. It gives them the approval of others. It’s like the opposite of trolling. Surely this is uncontroversial?

    A way to recognise this would be asserting something is “good” or “bad” without any qualifiers or explanation. It would have to be something that isn’t self-evidently bad, like murder, but something that has been valued in a cultural context, a code known to the listener. This would change over time and place. Another place you see it is in unqualified expressions of “disgust”. I can’t remember seeing “that’s disgusting” in response to ideas so much in my life as I do at the moment. It’s a really strong virtue signal, because it implies the speaker’s virtue is so entrenched in their personality that certain ideas cause physical revulsion.

    How can you read comments threads and deny this happens all the time? I’ve noticed it for ages, and was pleased to discover a term to describe it.

    • Adam Druit

      A worthwhile reply which makes many good points (the core of which I largely agree with).

      However, I think some people’s problem is the clear perception of bias running throughout the piece, unfortunately tainting the idea as more of a one sided issue. Sure, the author mentions “Conservatives and moderate liberals had done plenty of virtue signaling of their own, and a lot of it was based on racism and hatred of homosexuality” only to immediately temper the statement and qualify it with “but a lot of it was also grounded in reason and truth.” However, this attempted justification is only justified ex post- the idea that ‘as it happened, we were right to worry.’ This attempted justification is incredibly dangerous, as it detaches cause from effect.

      First, there has been no demonstrable reason that the continual hatred of homosexuality from the right has been justified. Same with racism. The author merely suggests that a few Conservative politicians happened to be correct about a different issue and leaves it at that (ironically, might I add, without providing any clear evidence of how these individuals were “right about Communism,” the very definition of virtue signaling the author lays out in the beginning of the piece).

      What this post also unfortunately does is fall into the faulty idea of “democratizing truth.” Far too often we create the perception that opposing sides are more equally valid than they are in reality. The idea that ‘celebrities ought not discuss climate because they have no expertise’ is boggling. For these celebrities aren’t contradicting the near unanimous voice of the scientific community, they’re reinforcing it. Furthermore, if we aren’t to speak of issues we aren’t experts on, why doesn’t he point to the numerous Conservative talking heads doing just that on the issue of Climate Change?

      Finally, in an effort to support his claim, he points to ‘what might be the worst case of virtue signaling’ an article about Islamophobes endangering our country. Never-mind the fact that Donald Trump’s speeches now actually have been used in an al-Shabab recruitment video (which could be used as justification of the headline to some extent), he totally ignores other, far more direct cases of virtue-signaling used by the political right. Some examples to back up my claim: Fox and Friends (in May 2008) referring to Mr. Rogers as an “Evil, evil man” for making children feel special, Glenn Beck’s calls that “Obama… has a deep-seated hatred of white people or white culture,” Glenn Beck suggesting Obama might try to kill 10% of the US population with death panels and extermination camps, Reza Aslan suggesting that Muslims ought not be allowed to write about Jesus Christ (even if said Muslim holds a PhD in religious studies and comparative religions), the list really does go on.

      • Aaron Petakia

        You kind of missed the point, didn’t you?
        This article isn’t about the opinions themselves.
        It’s about expressing outrage, with the implicit aim of getting social approval.
        On nominally journalistic websites, there are articles that do just this *to the exclusion of* any degree of journalism.

      • Jenny H

        On the other hand, isn’t the current popularity among heterosexual people to declare themselves in favour of “Gay Rights” just ‘virtue signalling’?

        • Aaron Petakia

          Supporting an ideal isn’t inherently virtue signaling.
          Supporting it an a highly public fashion by exploiting outrage against those who oppose that ideal,
          that is virtue signaling.

          It’s one thing for me to say I support gay rights (which I do).
          It’s another thing for me to keep sharing articles about the Westboro Baptist Church and saying how angry I am about them,
          while of course permanently leaving on the rainbow filter on my profile picture, which features me wearing a FCKH8 t-shirt.
          See the difference?

  • Sand Swath Leave Me Here

    this article is virtue signaling

  • MV
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  • Andrew

    Mark, do you have any thoughts on how virtue signaling relates to cyberbullying? If related, what insights do we gain to lessen cyberbullying?

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  • Jenny H

    I’ve got nothing against Christians. Some of my best friends are Christians. But would you want your daughter marrying one?

    • Marie

      Thank you for this excellent example of virtue signalling.

  • Bill

    James Bartholomew did not invent virtue signalling, or even coin the phrase.

    3.5: And what do you mean by “signaling”?

    Signaling is a concept from economics and sociobiology in which a people sometimes take actions not because they are especially interested in the results of those actions, but instead to show what kind of a person they are.

    Consequentialism FAQ, September 2011

    The discussion of signalling in the paper is all wrong. Humans engage in “virtue signalling” engaging in public altruistic acts to improve their repuatations and to prove how fine and trustworthy they are to onlookers.

    Comment by Tim Tyler, August 23, 2012

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  • I’m afraid that sharing this article on social media constitutes its own form of virtue signalling…

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  • Keegan Onfb

    If you were frank and said, ‘I care about the environment more than most people do’ or ‘I care about the poor more than others’, your vanity and self-aggrandizement would be obvious.

    The fact that the above statements are considered vane and self-aggrandizing is essentially the cause of virtue signaling. No one is permitted to praise themselves no matter how humbly it’s done so people resort to indirect means to preserve their self-esteem. This entire article is an act of virtue signaling. It does nothing to show the reasons why people behave this way and does nothing to suggest a solution. It’s yet another overconfident journalist guilting people out of expressing themselves despite the fact that he/she has taken up self-expression as a profession. It’s also heavily biased. It would work better as criticism of the left than as an illustration of a cultural phenomenon.

    • DannyHi

      Don’t praise yourself. Actually do stuff, genius

    • TiaLee13

      I agree completely. Sounds like another conservative who is finding it harder and harder to hide from those pesky facts and wants us to just shut about about them.

      BTW, I don’t find it “virtue signaling” (a made up fantasy phrase) to simply state your qualifications for your opinion. It is not self aggrandizing to give credentials for your thoughts.

      • Keegan Onfb

        The phrase virtue signaling is what led me to read this article. I’ve trained myself to look for phrases like this. It usually means that someone is trying to manipulate the truth. The truth has one taste. Straightforward expression of facts always feels and sounds the same and likewise when someone is pushing an agenda. The worst part is that this is what passes for intellect these days.

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  • Donald Campbell

    It isn’t the virtue signaling in and of itself that is bad. It is that the virtue signalers consider their outrage to be sufficient to solve the problem. Real solutions are hard (probably include MATH), require compromise, and take time to implement. Virtue signal, feel good, do nothing else; the sins of Progressivism .

    • MatthewSherrard

      You’re a moron if you think progressives believe that inaction is adequate for results.

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  • Not only does the writer suggest that he endorses the idea that people “virtual signal” to impress, rather than to express, he names specific people he assumes do that, without any evidence. Presumably, he’s “virtue signaling” that he, unlike named and unnamed others, doesn’t just post to show virtue?

  • Now I’ve read more carefully, and this guy is definitely a virtue signaller — no proof, no truth, massive generalization. Take for example this sentence: The New Left of the 1960s was more about rage than reason, and they passed their anger down to their Millennial offspring. As a movement historian (and rhetorician) that’s simply false. Anyone who’s read the Port Huron Statement, the quintessential founding paper of SDS, can’t say that. Nor anyone who’s studied the New Left — or the New Right, its imitators, who despite our image of the New Right in fact did have rational bases for their tactics — wouldn’t make a claim like that. And if he’s looking to the Huffington Post, essentially a liberal tabloid, for careful journalism, he’s looking in as wrong a place as acculturated apparently does.

    • Galahad

      You’re doing your own bit of “virtue signalling ” aren’t you Kestrel

      • MatthewSherrard

        Kestrel has addressed at least one particular facet of the original article and cited at least one source for further exploration.

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  • This is beautiful, really sums up the hypocrisy and pretentiousness of the far left

  • So everyone does ‘virtue signaling’, but when you do it, you are grounded in ‘truth and reason,’ but when people you disagree with do it, they are wrong. Got it.

    • War is peace

      I think the point is that everyone wants other people to think good of themselves, but there is a difference between shitting all over something because it is the cool thing to hate and making a reasoned rational argument because you want people to think you are a rational person

      • MatthewSherrard

        Yeah, a point in which the author asserts only the other side is REALLY guilty of doing it all the time.

  • Gum_ball_death

    Hmmm….only using examples from the liberal side? Trust me…there’s just as many, if not more, virtue-signaling coming from the conservatives as well. It’s obvious what side this article came from…and it’s also clear the author of this article is doing some major virtue-signaling himself.

    • DannyHi

      No there’s not. Lol. I’m a liberal and I acknowledge that Democrats have cornered the marker on virtue signaling.

      • drew carstairs

        The core piece that’s really missing is “*FALSE* virtue signalling “. Which really makes it “vice-signalling”.

        Leftists and the neo-Bolshevik DemonRATs essentially engage in VICE-signalling. AND it makes them feel good. They exalt themselves and make themselves feel good by advertising their vices and depravity to one another. This quickly and culturally reinforces their depravity.

    • Pro-Whites

      the virtue signaling from conservatives is ALWAYS…. ALWAYS towards a leftist narrative…………ALWAYS
      Political Correctness is Religious Marxism

  • TiaLee13

    I don’t think so. Maybe sometimes, but mostly, I see people simply stating facts which their opinions are based on. I don’t think you need to e a scientist to be concerned about teh environment.

    I can only speak for myself, of course, but I do not think of myself as “virtuous” simple for having an informed opinion or for caring or for trusting the conclusions of almost 100% of scientists in the world.

    I am not seeking accolades. I am hoping that anything I post does one of two things: Gets me new information on which to base my opinion or makes even one person rethink theirs.

  • Donald Campbell

    Well, I do acknowledge that Progressives ‘do something’. My problem is that they do nothing good.
    Unfortunately, I am afraid that we are past the point of no return. Most people seem to talk around the other side. Is virtue signaling really any worse than calling everyone racists or homophobes or islamophobes for the sole purpose of shutting them up?
    Consider, Socialism has failed each and every place it has been tried. The Progressive viewpoint (and actually Progressives and liberals are quite two different things) is that a centralized planner is more efficient than a decentralized system.
    Then there are micro aggression and disparate impact. Incredible. We have fixed overt aggression and racism to the point that the ‘thought police’ have to decide that you are doing something wrong without knowing it. Sorry, but humans are biased. A long time ago, being able to discriminate between the stalking lion and the friendly dog was an important survival trait.
    Imagine this scenario: A Muslim man enters a gay disco, screams Allah Ackbar, pledges allegiance to ISIS and all the Progressives can do is have a gun control sit-in in the Capitol? Sorry, but this position has been pretty much the same since Reagan. It is never re-thought, it is filled with disinformation and hate mongering. It does nothing for the dead in Chicago, killed every weekend,in the most draconian gun law city in America.

    • MatthewSherrard

      If you understood what virtue signalling was about, you’d understand that calling “everyone” racists is precisely a form of virtue signalling. But like this article, that accusation is bullshit.

      • Donald Campbell

        Again, consider your reasons for disagreeing…. you simply want to tell me to shut up.
        I am curious as to why you trolls come around to a discussion 6 months old and start complaining.

        • MatthewSherrard

          On the internet, everything is new and old at the same time 🙂

          And yes, I do want to tell you to shut up. What’s your point?

          • Donald Campbell

            My point would be after two months, I don’t even know what the F*ck we are talking about. Concern Troll? Telling people you disagree with to shut up… the moral sophistication of a two year old throwing a tantrum.

          • Miyako

            I would like to add….Liberals (Progressives) Are ‘Sic’ And Deviant Hateful People. I’m Glad The Elitist Hollywood Crowd Was Kicked To The Side Of The Curb In America. The Deplorables Are Now In Charge”’! Sorry For your PITY Pots”! GO TRUMP””! BUILD THE WALL”! Deport All The Illegal Alien FOREIGN Nationals’! Make Friends With Russia’s Putin. No More Wars For Israel’! Free Palestine’! (Iraq,Syria,Yemen,Iran Etc Etc’!) Nationalist America..! America……………………….FIRST’!

  • Lorraine Bergman


  • cireful

    Projection 101.

  • Boxcar Willie

    Any obnoxious political post on facebook – if it’s not followed-up with action – is virtue signalling. More than half my stupid feed are friends and acquaintances spouting off about this issue and that, but at the end of the day, they do nothing outside of their daily lives to change anything. Yes it is virtue signalling. Especially when they follow up their post with something to the effect of, “it’s time to evolve, people!” Please. If you’re not out there marching, donating money, volunteering, or anything else, then every single political post you post is nothing but virtue signalling and it’s pathetic.

  • StPete

    This is a joke, right? Professionals back up what they say (thesis, article) but if I don’t like something I may or may not say why, and most of my friends aren’t keeping score. If anyone thinks this is a real issue, just look to the $500 billion ad industry which routinely testifies to the veracity of its product claims prima facie… nothing more to back it up than a pretty face.

    • Yechiel Levin

      How interesting that you chose advertising as a comparison. So on point. Virtue signaling is exactly your advertising of your being on the politically correct side of any issue. And it bears exactly the same relationship to the truth. You probably fancy yourself the last person who would be taken in by BS advertising. Well, the shoe fits here too,

      • Yeah, because your calling out of someone else for virtue-signalling isn’t just the exact same virtue-signalling of saying “Look at me, I don’t think like this guy”.

        As defined by you, literally every opinion is virtue-signalling, because it serves to signal the virtues you extol. So it’s argumentatively useless. If you want to use it in a way of saying someone “cares” about something but is unwilling to put in the effort to change it, I can get behind that usage.

        If you’re going to use it like you did here, then everyone is guilty of it constantly, because that’s how humans work, they have viewpoints and they express themselves through the lense of that viewpoint.

        People need to stop being so hell-bent on being right and focus on being able to compromise to find a solution that works for the majority. In short: Grow up.

        • Yechiel Levin

          I think you may have misunderstood me. I haven’t attempted to provide my own definition of virtue signaling.

          First of all, virtue-signaling only exists on the politically-correct side of an issue. My calling someone out for it might be signaling something, but it wouldn’t be “virtue.” (Is vice-signaling a thing?) It’s also characterized by someone spouting opinions that place him/her/it? on the “right” side of an issue, whether or not the person has any idea what they are talking about, or even whether or not the person actually believes what he is saying. It’s a definition epitomized by the actions of the greengrocer in Vaclav Havel’s essay “The Power of the Powerless.”

          The difference is, he does it to stay alive; today’s celebrities do it to stay employed/employable in Hollywood.

          Within that first qualification, I would agree with you that one characteristic of it is that it’s limited to talk without the action to back it up (such as flying private jets to Global Warming conferences). This is part of the idea that the signaler doesn’t *really* believe what he’s saying.

          • If it’s someone pretending to care about a subject without exerting any effort to actually do something about the subject, then fair enough, I can understand the term, although hypocrite and lazy are just as viable.

            As for someone expressing their political opinion, it’s basically useless for that, because everyone think their opinion is ‘right’, and the other side will always think they are ‘wrong’.

            A lot of people on the right-wing seem to think being ‘politically correct’ is some sort of slimy way of trying be holier-than-thou, but it’s not, it’s merely a way of conducting yourself in a discussion or action that is intended not to unduly victimise or offend someone. That sounds like a reasonable way of arguing your case without just coming across as an angry, bitter or prejudiced person.

            The number of people who might be ‘virtue-signalling’ their interest in global warming is pretty low, more often than not, it’s just flawed humans expressing an interest but sometimes doing things that don’t actually help. The bigger virtue-signalling comes from corporations and governments who pay lip service to such causes whilst behind the curtain failing to do what they can to stop hurting the case (See Volkswagen etc.).

            If you want virtue-signalling to be a useful concept, you can’t just apply it to every celebrity who wants to prevent climate change who also happens to get a jet somewhere, because that’s a crappy application of the concept. You also can’t say that people only hold their views to get a job in Hollywood, it’s really not as well-knit there as you might think. It’s money that rules Hollywood, not lightly-held political interests.

  • Chris Vermillion

    Isn’t “virtue signalling” really about the intent by the comment? If your goal is to demonstrate your virtue, then yeah, I guess it’s virtue signaling. If your point is to vent or convince others or anything else, I would say it’s something else. It may be uninformed or hypocritical, but not necessarily “virtue signalling.” I think the phrase could be useful if restricted to the more limited definition. The author of this article, however, seems to think every not-well-thought-out opinion about a moral or political issue is virtue signaling. That just doesn’t make sense.

  • Damien LeGallienne

    Just to make this easy for people — A perfect example of mass Virtue Signaling occurred when everyone put JE SUIS CHARLIE on their Facebook — or draped their profile pic with a French flag even when they didn’t know what it was all about. Had there been true virtue signaling on 9-11-2001, it would have been an insufferable tsunami.

    • Robert W

      the contrAPOSITIVE VIRTUE SIGNALING WAS THE FACT donald trump will be president

      • M.Donald11111

        Nah. Donald Trump is never going to be presidential.

    • Lawst

      I’m guessing you were either very young or living under a rock when 9-11 happened. Stores were selling out of American flags, there was one on every house. T-shirts were available online within hours of the event. It could be argued that virtue signalling by Congress is what got us into the Iraq War.

      • Damien LeGallienne

        Nope — different. Explosive jingoism and “rally ’round the flag” are not the same as virtue signalling which is an entirely new phenomenon as it is defined today owing to the HASHTAG.

  • Clue Bin

    Funny how all of the leftists here disagree with this article. They obviously don’t appreciate a name being coined for their behavior. These dopes can’t even put a sentence together without accusing someone of being racist, which is Virtue Signaling at its finest. When liberals call someone a racist, what they are really doing is reaffirming that they are not racist and then feeling all virtuous afterwards. Meanwhile the adults in the room have grown tired of this and finally came up with a good name for it.

    • Ennui

      Anybody can virtue signal, it’s just more common for progressive social causes online. Conservatives do it by claiming to ‘defend family values’ by posting online or saying “I protect the unborn”(publically opposing abortion without doing anything to decrease the likelihood of women needing to choose abortion. It’s just posting about things and not doing anything.

      And Je Suis Charlie posts online, virtue signaling by both camps referenced below.

      • M.Donald11111

        Opposing abortion while simultaneously opposing food stamps, medicaid, education funding isn’t virtuous…its hypocritical idiocy!

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  • Therese Sulentich Pepelnjak

    Aka in psychoanalytic theory as a primitive defense, “.moral superiority.”

  • agnosic1

    Author Mark Judge seems to have missed a crucial aspect of James Bartholomew’s meaning in the use of the phrase ‘virtue signaling’ (whether Bartholomew actually coined the phrase or not). According to Bartholomew, the difference between actually being virtuous and ‘virtue signaling’ is that there’s no ‘cost’ associated with the latter:

    “One of the crucial aspects of virtue signalling is that it does not require actually doing anything virtuous. It does not involve delivering lunches to elderly neighbours or staying together with a spouse for the sake of the children. It takes no effort or sacrifice at all.”

    “The phrase came to me after years of trying to come up with the something. Researching my previous book, The Welfare State We’re In, I came to realise that the Victorians and Edwardians gave vastly more money to charity than people do now. It was normal even for the working and artisan classes to give as much as 10 per cent of their income. That compares with donations of less than 1 per cent for the general population now.”

    “Among many other things, they [the Victorians and Edwardians] gave money to help charitable hospitals through the King’s Fund in Saturday workplace collections. They also took it as normal to look after their aged parents and other relatives.”

  • Mr. P

    Virtue signalling is a common practice by the victim/ dependent culture to assume the moral high ground through unearned moral superiority to extract the greatest benefits for grievance parasites. Essentially its a con, a departure from reality, rooted in lies and deceit revealing a sad generation who could never fathom the notion of “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”.

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  • 12213

    The Washington National Cathedral continues to give Confederates Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson Sanctuary in the Stained glass windows, Will the Cathedral offer Sanctuary to live immigrants who are fugitives from TRUMP