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I guess I'm not completely clear on what "What is this _" means as a rhetorical question. I can tell it has a connotation of mild horror and mock exaggeration. For the purpose of stating something is unjust, should it be "What is this injustice?" or "What is this justice?"

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  • On the face of it the answer is obvious. But perhaps the sentences immediately before or after it might explain why you have a problem. That is why questions are supposed to give a clear context. I can tell certain things. The word ‘this’ presupposes that somebody, possibly a defendant or plaintiff in a lawsuit has complained of an injustice; or it might be a suppliant before a magistrate or ruler. But we need a context.
    – Tuffy
    Commented Apr 10, 2020 at 23:09

2 Answers 2

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To make a long answer short, if you were to write "Doing XYZ will result in a big injustice to the people of ABC", it would be perfectly idiomatic to follow that with the rhetorical question "What is this injustice?" and then an explanation.

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People use "What is this?" to express their dismay at something, for example:

"What is this mess?"

Depending on the context of the rhetorical question, I would say "What is this injustice?" in the same way I would say "What is this mess?"--to express my dismay. However, if the speaker wished to imply that "this" was not true justice, he/she might say:

"What is this, justice?" (Note that the use of a comma changes the tone and meaning of the sentence.)

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