September 24, 2009

What's so bad about hypocrisy?

"Does it matter how much salt Mayor Bloomberg puts on his food?... It reminds me of how people love to point out that Al Gore and Thomas Friedman don't do the best job of minimizing their own carbon emissions."

45 comments:

rhhardin said...

Wm. F. Buckley, questioned by a Harverd student about the load on the world produced by his nine kids

WFB: ``I see what you mean.''

Original Mike said...

"don't do the best job"???

Can we have a post on understatment next? Or maybe disingenuousness.

Salamandyr said...

On the one hand, hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue. A man who steals because he thinks he's doing the Lords work is no better than one who steals even though he knows it's wrong.

On the other hand, people like Al Gore are attempting to radically change the way people live their lives, to shrink the size and horizons that normal people can aspire to. They want us living the lives of peasants, content to never see what is on the other side of that hill, to never stray more than a days walk from our homes. They're attempting to stifle the rate our technology progresses, to retard progress, which will have incredible costs not to our livelihoods but in lives that could otherwise be saved. So...fuck em.

Maguro said...

Al Gore and Tom Friedman "don't do the best job of minimizing their own carbon emissions"? Wow, that's delicately put.

It's kind of like saying that Jimmy Swaggart didn't do the best job of living up to his christian standards when he hired those hookers.

If people want to stop the hypocrisy charges, that's fine, I guess, but that means that the Swaggarts and Vitters of this world get a pass, too. Not sure everyone would be happy with that.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Well as I posted on JAC's blog, its called leading by example. Sorry but I'm not going to accept as gospel that the planet is dying and at the same time accept the spokesperson for global warming movement has a carbon footprint the size of Godzilla.

You may as well take safe sex tips from that Hofstra slut.

SteveR said...

As my high school geometry teacher used to say: "Do as I say do, not as I do do."

Richard Fagin said...

I'll tell you exactly what's so bad about "it." Hypocrisy in morality or diligence, where failure to honor a standard of conduct results in direct injury to someone, is generally excusable. Who, after all, is perfect?

Where the conection between the misconduct and the injury is diffuse or attenuated, however, failure to live up to the "standard", and to do so repeatedly, is an indication that the "standard" is in fact a false one, or is designed to constrain conduct on no basis other than the suppositions of the high and mighty. That kind ot hypocrisy is inexcusible because it's based not in morality but in pure will.

Henry said...

Some things are just stupid all by themselves.

MadisonMan said...

Why does anyone outside New York City care about Mayor Bloomberg?

Comrade X said...

If everyone was Al Gore's girth
we would need a second Earth

Salamandyr said...

Why does anyone outside New York City care about Mayor Bloomberg?

Any number of reasons, but the largest is since much of our press is based there, they talk about what he's doing and that creates news for the rest of us.

An even better reason is because Bloomberg has national ambitions and New York is a big, influential place.

AJ Lynch said...

Mad Man:

Freedom squelching laws seem to get their start in liberal places like NYC and California. Then they spread to other parts of the country.

So we follow what Bloomberg is doing to keep an eye on an enemy of liberty and freedom.

wv = culati

Shanna said...

HE dumps salt on almost everything, even saltine crackers.

Gross. It’s like salting chips they are you are going to dip into salty cheese dip. I don’t get that. Probably because my mom switched us to “low salt” salt (??) as a kid and my brother and I both like less salt now.

Or salt bagels. Giant chunks of salt all over your bagel, when you are going to put salty cheese or butter on it.

Big Mike said...

I couldn't possibly disagree more strongly with JAC. How can something be right for everybody, if "everybody" doesn't include yourself?

PatHMV said...

The article points out a concern that his "you must eat right" nanny-state concern is driven by the mayor's own personal issues, rather than any actual objective evidence. If an elected official has some particular neurosis, is it really appropriate for them to try to rule our lives as a result?

bearbee said...

Why does anyone outside New York City care about Mayor Bloomberg?

He is emblematic (uh, oh....an 'e' word) of a certain kind of thinking.

This is a democracy and I run it.

There is increasing thought among politicians and groups of believers to force people through legislation or other means to do the 'right' thing.

Shanna said...

It reminds me of how people love to point out that Al Gore and Thomas Friedman don't do the best job of minimizing their own carbon emissions. But how does that undermine their ideas about what's in store for the planet?

Because they don’t really believe it. They don’t believe they are causing the problem, or they don’t believe individual actions will fix it, or they don’t think it’s a bit enough problem to change their lifestyle over. But, they want other people to suffer for reasons they don’t fully believe, at least not inconvenience themselves. They are full of it.

Rialby said...

Here is why it matters. Environmentalism and mommy-statism is their religion. When they violate the tenets of the religion they love to preach about, they're no better than Swaggart.

DADvocate said...

When you want to use the power of the law to control other people's behavior, it does matter when you violate principle you're enforcing. Of course, his lack of commitment to freedom is worse. Laws for thee but not for me.

People outside of New York care about what Bloomberg does because any mayor in NY is a national influence. Bloomberg has also been active nationally attacking our right to bear arms with his Mayors Against Guns group. Of course, onlyl an obstinate, liberal idiot like MM would even ask this question.

bearbee said...

Why does anyone outside New York City care about Mayor Bloomberg?

ps.....wasn't he thinking of a run for President?

Balfegor said...

There's different kinds of hypocrisy. There's the hypocrisy you do in private (e.g. adulterers who preach the virtue of family values). That kind of hypocrisy really is the tribute vice pays the virtue, because the furtive nature of the hypocritical act makes clear that the hypocrite does accept and uphold the public virtue; he just can't help himself. That's the weakness of the flesh.

But there's the kind of hypocrisy that is blatant, public, and in-your-face. Like owning a ginormous mansion even as you tell people they need to downsize and conserve. That's a kind of hypocrisy that's really a form of revealed preference -- a public indicator that the hypocrite doesn't really believe the rubbish he's trying to push down our throats. He's not even sufficiently ashamed of the contradiction to try and hide it.

So this:

On the other hand, I find it a little disturbing that the Bloomberg piece is even considered a news story. It reminds me of how people love to point out that Al Gore and Thomas Friedman don't do the best job of minimizing their own carbon emissions. But how does that undermine their ideas about what's in store for the planet? Whether you agree or disagree with their views on climate change, their personal habits are a distraction from the real issues.

Seems to me to miss the point. When a man says something and openly and publicly does completely the opposite thing, well, the merits of his argument -- such as they are -- are not directly affected. But the weight we give his argument is reduced. The fact that he is open and notorious in his flouting of the rules he seeks to impose suggests that, at the least, he is not really arguing in good faith, regardless of whether his argument is sound or not.

Bob said...

"What's so bad about hypocrisy?"

It proves that all claims of wanting to help others is bullshit, and all that is really wanted is control over other people's lives, while the hypocrite snickers up his/her sleeve and gorges on another eclair.

Bissage said...

Hypocrisy is cheating.

Sheepman said...

It reminds me of how people love to point out that Al Gore and Thomas Friedman don't do the best job of minimizing their own carbon emissions. But how does that undermine their ideas about what's in store for the planet?

I agree with the comments above that it does greatly undermine their ideas. Gore has supposedly studied the issue thoroughly and is profoundly disturbed by the implications of global warming. He has the funds and the tech savvy needed to have a carbon neutral lifestyle yet chooses not to do so.

That leads me to conclude that he is not being entirely honest as to how he views the danger of global warming.

I see a distinction here with Bloomberg. If he eats poorly he hurts only himself. If Gore has a large carbon footprint he is, by his own admission, hurting others.

Balfegor said...

It proves that all claims of wanting to help others is bullshit, and all that is really wanted is control over other people's lives, while the hypocrite snickers up his/her sleeve and gorges on another eclair.

Well, not necessarily. Tom Friedman's lavish mansion is one thing -- pure conspicuous consumption -- but I think Gore's mansion may be his ancestral manor, so there's reasons he would want to keep it, even if it's huge and energy inefficient and contradicts his overall message. And other violations -- Bloomberg loving his salt -- may just be a case of a man who cannot control his urge to slather everything he eats in salt. But as I said before, the fact that they don't hide it, don't even seem to show any shame over it, is the galling bit that makes one suspect they are not arguing in good faith.

On the more conservative side of the aisle, I think this is one thing that lost Sanford any sympathy he could have got -- he was an adulterer, but rather than being properly ashamed and apologetic, he lapsed into adolescent rubbish about how in love he was, etc. etc. etc. It suggested that he didn't take his marriage vows seriously at all.

Triangle Man said...

Salt craving is a sign of a few endocrinological disorders. Perhaps his potassium is low?

miller said...

I don't have a problem with people saying one thing and then doing another. They are human & can't live up to their promises. (None of us live up to our promises or even our promise. Ask your spouse.)

But I think it's entirely fair to point out that those who want to be in control do not themselves want to be controlled. That's the bigger issue.

People like Al Gore (in the sense of time flies like an arrow, not fruit flies like a banana) are morally smug about telling us how to live (cold, powerless, pedestrian) while they fatten themselves up and live in glorious warm mansions. I'm not saying Al Gore has to live in a hovel, but it would help the meaningfulness of his clarion call to action if he showed that he thought it important by at least trying to follow his own dicta.

MadisonMan said...

Freedom squelching laws seem to get their start in liberal places like NYC and California. Then they spread to other parts of the country.

So true. I vividly recall all those freedom-squelching divorce laws emanating from California.

Along the same lines, I did not realize that the states with freedom-squelching sodomy laws were liberal states.

Balfegor said...

Nope never mind. Gore apparently purchased the house in 2002. So it's not inherited. Pure conspicuous consumption.

Richard Dolan said...

To take Balfegor's point a bit further, it bears remembering that the types of "policies" at issue here are fundamentally economic, not religious or moral or anything else. The example in the original post is climate change, where the 'policy' issue is fundamentally about economics -- the costs/benefits of various proposals to decrease carbon emissions, for example. When you're discussing any policy in terms of economics, it always involves consideration of distributional effects (the who benefits/who pays question).

The hypocrisy of folks like Gore and Friedman involves both sides of that distributional equation. They're all for certain policies, but the policies somehow always manage to skew the distribution of the costs/benefits to favor them. When the "real issue" is economics, that's rarely a "distraction" and almost always an indication that the 'policy' is a bit different in reality from what it's being sold as.

traditionalguy said...

The charge of being an Actor on a Stage (the meaning of Hypocrit)is just funny. What is not funny is the new super legalists that cannot stand seeing the 10 commandments in public want to enforce their new 100 commandments. But like all legalists, they secretly break the laws they place onto our shoulders to bear.

Pogo said...

It's only hypocricy if they actually believed any of the shit they're spewing.

But they don't, and never did.

It's always been a blatant grab for power. When communism failed, they switched to socialism, and when that only bought them Medicare, they switched to environmentalism.

They'd push unicorn enema abuse reforms if they thought it'd get them even a little power.

Scott M said...

but I think Gore's mansion may be his ancestral manor, so there's reasons he would want to keep it, even if it's huge and energy inefficient and contradicts his overall message.

That may even be true, but it doesn't change the fact that he's using more power for that one residence than something like 20 normal family residences. Add to that the fact that Gore added a heated indoor pool (did his ancestors have one?) and that they only moved to "green" the place after the 2006 power-usage flap, still leads me right back to calling Gore not only a hypocrite, but a lying hypocrite.

In the deep south, I've seen first-hand examples of living in a huge, old family house while not using up half the local power grid in the process.

John Thacker said...

The reason we make a big deal about it is simple. It's the one charge that can always be made to stick.

Other charges can always be deflected by the accused arguing that he or she doesn't personally agree with the premise underlying the accusation. Hypocrisy cannot, because the accused has already endorsed the premises.

knox said...

Why does anyone outside New York City care about Mayor Bloomberg?

Well, liberals look at NY and CA to see what they can get away with.

William said...

It's not your level of hypocrisy; it's what your hypocritical about. Being hypocritical about food is a forgivable foible, more indicative of humanity than weakness. Being hypocritical about money is called banking. Being hypocritical about sex, is a career killer. Being hypocritical about the environment is almost exclusively a liberal hypocrisy and, thus, by definition is not a sin. Be patient: they will soon find some way of spinning this as virtue.

downtownlad said...

If you don't have high blood pressure, there is nothing wrong with salt.

New York's life expectancy is climbing rapidly though. It's gone from being in the middle of pack amongst states to having one of the highest life expectancies in the nation in just a decade.

Scott M said...

New York's life expectancy is climbing rapidly though. It's gone from being in the middle of pack amongst states to having one of the highest life expectancies in the nation in just a decade.

How could that possibly happen with socialized, single-payer health care? Maybe that doesn't account for infant mortality and homicides.

rhhardin said...

Hippocracy, by comparison, is rule by horses.

ricpic said...

Bloomberg is a fastidious tyrant.

Stan said...

"Gore's ancestral mansion"?!

Gore's father grew up in a little farmhouse in Carthage, TN sixty miles east of Nashville. He got into politics, made his corrupt bargain with Boss Crump to get his senate seat and bootstrapped that with sweetheart deals with Armand Hammer to become wealthy. Algore jr grew up in DC among wealth and privilege at St. Albans. His home in the exclusive Belle Meade area of Nashville is about as far from his ancestral roots as he could possibly get and remain in the same state.

Balfegor said...

His home in the exclusive Belle Meade area of Nashville is about as far from his ancestral roots as he could possibly get and remain in the same state.

As you will see above, I went back and checked and it turned out he bought his gigantic mansion in 2002.

Smilin' Jack said...

What's so bad about hypocrisy?

"Does it matter how much salt Mayor Bloomberg puts on his food?... It reminds me of how people love to point out that Al Gore and Thomas Friedman don't do the best job of minimizing their own carbon emissions."


That's not hypocrisy, that's:

Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi is a Latin phrase, literally meaning "What is legitimate for Jove (Jupiter), is not legitimate for oxen." The phrase was created by Terence, a playwright of the Roman Republic[1]. The phrase is often translated as "Gods may do what cattle may not". It indicates the existence of a double standard (justifiable or otherwise), and essentially means "what is permitted to one person or group, is not permitted to everyone."


So go back to chewing your cud, stupid cattle, and stop presuming to judge your betters.

knox said...

Hippocracy, by comparison, is rule by horses.

Then what in the world is rule by hippos???

Orion said...

"On the other hand, I find it a little disturbing that the Bloomberg piece is even considered a news story. It reminds me of how people love to point out that Al Gore and Thomas Friedman don't do the best job of minimizing their own carbon emissions. But how does that undermine their ideas about what's in store for the planet? Whether you agree or disagree with their views on climate change, their personal habits are a distraction from the real issues."

The biggest issue with this statement is it focuses on the messenger, and not the message.

If a Klansmen approached someone and told them they really should be more tolerant of others differences it really wouldn't change the fact that in theory that advise is probably accurate. Or if a obese man tells his equally obese son he needs to exercise more before he ends up "like him", it does not negate this point.

Perhaps a more casual, every day example is former hippy parents trying to keep their kids from trying dangerous narcotics. If only they had listened they're medical insurance might not be sky high. They're in effect trying to save the next world from a fate that's already befallen them.

Al Gore is insanely rich, and while his carbon footprint is big for an individual, overall it's miniscule, and while it may make his effort look less sincere, it doesn't detract from the truth of his message. Maybe he truly does feel it's awful, but he's rich, successful, and has pursued a path that has already placed him where he is. He cannot really go back and erased 4 decades of his life so as to better practice what he preaches.

I think also, from an individuals perspective, to a degree I think fears of hypocrisy or contradictions often keep people from ever realizing their potential. Notable examples being when people say "well, I'm not 'selling out'". Usually though nobody is actually buying. So in effect the fear of being hypocritical or contradictory is actually a fear of changing one's own entrenched habits.

Tying this back to Gore, or Freidman, or Bloomsberg, they say success is also a habit. Which is a very astute observation in my opinion. Often people do seem to focus very narrowly, however, on negative aspects of successful people such a drug use, dominant personalities, corruption and excesses, forgetting that those traits, and that obsessive behavior is often what made them successful in the first place. Al Gore is as set in his ways as a poor man who has spent his whole life living handout to handout. So when the poor man wishes he saved more money, or Al Gore opines about living with less they are in fact speaking from experience, experiences they've already witnessed the consequences of.

I think in many ways the wisest among us are the hypocrites. Socrates, who espoused wisdom, made his name bickering with people to the point where they executed him. Jesus, who spoke of love in fact was a bit of a troublemaker who bucked the system constantly, and apparently did not love the Pharisees.

So while I don't really believe in good and bad, I can both appreciate that hypocrisy has benefits and drawbacks, and doesn't necessarily diminish those individuals like some would suggest.