Friday, July 13, 2007

Who's A Hypocrite?

The outing of Rep. David Vitter as having availed himself of the services a practitioner of the oldest profession, apparently on more than one occasion, was the big scandal of the week. Of course this was followed by the usual charges of hypocrisy (h/t Instapundit). I'd never really thought much about the definition of hypocrisy but Best of the Web Today had an interesting take from a reader on Thursday (sorry, BOTW doesn't utilize permalinks for individual items, scroll a little more than half way down) which got me thinking about it. Reader Andy Ritter had the following to say:
“Hypocrisy does not mean saying one thing and doing the opposite. It means saying something that one does not believe. Let's take the example of getting drunk. Let's say that I believe that getting drunk is immoral. Does it make me a hypocrite if I get drunk? No, it makes me weak. I could believe that it is immoral but still not be able to resist the temptation to get drunk. It doesn't make my belief any less true or my actions any

Now let's say that Larry Flynt doesn't believe that getting drunk is immoral. What are his consequences of getting drunk? Your comment on his living up to his own low moral standards hits the nail on the head. Objectively, my getting drunk is no more or less immoral than Larry Flynt's.

If Larry Flynt attacked me for getting drunk, that would be hypocrisy, because he doesn't believe that getting drunk is immoral. It's hypocrisy for him to say that it's OK for him to get drunk but not OK for me to get drunk.

We saw the mainstream media's reaction to Rush Limbaugh's addiction to pain killers and Bill Bennett's gambling problem. These men were not hypocrites. I guarantee you that neither of these men wished for their own problems, and, after having gone through what they did, they most likely feel even more strongly about them than they did before. Again, weakness, not hypocrisy.”

So really, the definition of a hypocrite is not someone who fails to live up to the standards they espouse, there is nobody that can do that all the time and by that definition everyone is a hypocrite, but rather someone who holds others to a higher standard than he does for himself. Larry Flynt is projecting.

7/14 Update: More
evidence as to who the real hypocrites are (also via Instapundit).

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