September 20, 2011

Hypo Hypos

Hatched by Dafydd

I been waiting for someone on Patterico's Pontifications to point out the ultimate fallacy of those on the Left calling Sarah Palin a "hypocrite" for (a) advocating "abstinence-only" sex-ed classes, while (b) having had an affair with a basketbrawl player when she was in high school.

Nota Bene: We pause for a moment to pass lightly over the actual facts, which are clear: Palin committed neither of these offenses. There is no shred of evidence that a teenybopper Palin boffed any ballplayers; nor has she ever demanded that all sex-ed classes consist solely of ritual chants of "Just say no to sex!" Each charge is a complete fabrication.

So why do we pass lightly? Because the unwillingness of the facts to line up with leftist wet dreams interferes with our point, which is that the "hypocrisy" conclusion is a foaming non-sequitur -- and would be so even if Democrat delusions were reality.

I'm less interested in the Left's hallucinations than its paralogia.

The problem is that liberals, Progressivists, and Democrats in general do not understand what the word "hypocrite" actually means. Not surprising, as they have their own idiosyncratic definitions for many common English-language words; "to lie," for instance, which they evidently believe means to say something that later turns out to be inaccurate (or quite accurate, but not in accord with liberal dogma). It's easy to tease out the liberal definition of hypocrisy...

  • The proper definition of hypocrisy: Preaching a moral standard that applies to everybody except you and your cronies; that is, falsely saying one thing while actually believing another.
  • The liberal definition of hypocrisy: Preaching a moral standard that, try as you might, you do not always achieve.

Am I right about what the word means? From Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Vol II:

The act or practice of pretending to be what one is not or to have principles or beliefs that one does not have; the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion.

Falsity is an integral part of the definition, but perfection is not required. Suppose I say "everyone should exercise at least four times a week;" but then one week I just can't work up enthusiasm to exercise more than twice. Does that make me a hypocrite?

No it does not, for I don't say that I do well by going only twice. Rather, I admit that I should have gone more often... but I'm not perfect, and sometimes I slip up.

However, it would be hypocrisy indeed for me to say "everyone should exercise at least four times a week," if in fact I have no intention of exercising that much and clearly don't believe the rule applies to me... just to you peons!

Another hypothetical musing on hypocrisy (a hypo hypo): Suppose an alcoholic preaches that drink is the tool of the Devil and everyone should become a complete teetotaller; but then he falls off the wagon and gets blotto. Is he a hypocrite? It depends upon what he says when he sobers up:

  • No hypocrisy: "I feel so ashamed; I must redouble my efforts to steer clear of booze and urge everyone else to do the same!"
  • Hypocrisy in spades and doubled: "I wasn't drunk -- I'm perfectly capable of handling my liquor; it's you lot that need to abstain!"

Back to our real point; time to state the obvious once again: Sarah Palin did not do any indoor body surfing in high school; at least nobody has ever given us reason to think she did. And she does not insist upon abstinence-only sex education. So let's talk instead about another hypothetical politician, this one named "Parah Salin;" and this Bizarro-world version actually did that which causes liberals to salivate like Pavlov's dogs:

  1. When not dangling from a boat-drawn parachute, Parah Salin runs around the country preaching that abstinence from sex is the only thing that sex-ed classes should teach.
  2. But yesterday we found out that Parah Salin was a real wild one in high school: She is known to have done the entire boys' basketball team, the entire lacrosse team (male and female), and half the faculty lounge. Hypocrite!
  3. But wait... when questioned about her porn-star past by some smarmy "reporter" for Pink Throgress, this is what Parah Salin says:

    It's the most humiliating memory of my youth; and all the time I was sleeping with anything that didn't run away fast enough, I hated myself. I even thought of committing suicide; thank God I didn't, because now I can try to redeem my life by warning other kids away from the horrible ruin I made of my own childhood!

I defy any reader to read me the riddle, where is the falsity? Does Parah Salin falsely claim she was a virtuous women in high school? Does she tell others that out-of-control sex is awful, while telling herself it's all right for the morally exempt Parah Salin to do it? Or perhaps she says "abstinence is vital" merely to avoid public opprobrium, while in reality believing that there's nothing wrong with promiscuity.

No, no, and no; under the terms of this hypothetical, she appears to sincerely believe what she says, even if she did not always live up to that standard throughout her life.

We agreed earlier that hypocrisy requires falsity; without the false, there is no hypocrisy, hence Parah Salin is no hypocrite.

In other words, this isn't an example of hypocrisy; it's an example of wising up. And don't we routinely expect people to wise up as they grow older?

I suppose such growth (real or imagined) seems like hypocrisy to the Left because they, uniquely, neither wise up nor grow up. Since they cannot imagine or understand growth, they see it only as fickleness, disloyalty, treason, heresy! For whatever cause a liberal espoused as a teen he carries with him to the end of days.

And that, serendipitously, pretty much explains Barack H. Obama, too.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 20, 2011, at the time of 12:53 AM

Comments

The following hissed in response by: MikeR

I suggest that Dennis Prager deserves credit for this one. He has been saying this for many years, and I know you like him.

The above hissed in response by: MikeR [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 20, 2011 5:55 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

MikeR:

Yes, Prager has written about it in one of his books, possibly Why the Jews?. But he deserves no more credit than I, because it's not original with either of us: The observed fact that humans are imperfect and unperfectable (in this world) is old hat, to put it mildly. Among other examples, it's the starting point for Judaism, Christianity, and Capitalism.

(Modern liberalism begins by rejecting this self-evident observation, dreaming of remaking Man and society into the perfect liberal totalitarianism, mandatory paradise on Earth.)

The notion that falling short of one's own standards is not necessarily hypocrisy has always been the traditional moral reasoning. Hypocrisy consists of pretending that you never fall short... that either you're perfect, or else your own standards simply don't apply to you, personally -- that you are "Anointed" (as Thomas Sowell puts it), because you have "the Vision."

(The complete title of that book is even more revealing: The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy.)

And that preening belief in the absolute moral authority conferred by "the Vision" had to wait until the adolescent, narcissistic thinkers of modern liberalism (as opposed to classical liberalism) seized power in the twentieth century, within both liberal culture and the Western world at large.

The intellectual (and maturity) chasm between William Jennings Bryan and Barack H. Obama is vast, deep, and impassable.

Dafydd

The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 20, 2011 1:09 PM

The following hissed in response by: MikeR

The imperfection of human beings is old. But I think Prager is the first one that I've heard repeatedly focusing on the modern misuse of the idea of hypocrisy.

The above hissed in response by: MikeR [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 20, 2011 2:19 PM

The following hissed in response by: Mr. Michael

Given that Parah Salin DID live an active sexual lifestyle and advocated for same... then she WOULD be a hypocrite for advocating that lifestyle then, and not living up to that standard today.

In order to be a hypocrite, you have to advocate on thing first, and then consciously decide to live your own life differently AFTER. So, yeah, they COULD blast Parah for hypocrisy... but for a different message. Or am I missing something simple again?

The above hissed in response by: Mr. Michael [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 21, 2011 2:10 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Mr. Michael:

Given that Parah Salin DID live an active sexual lifestyle and advocated for same... then she WOULD be a hypocrite for advocating that lifestyle then, and not living up to that standard today.

Yes, you are missing something simple: You assume that Parah Salin didn't actually change her mind about promiscuity; she just remessaged.

But the hypo clearly indicates that she did change her mind. If one advocates position A when one believes in A, but then advocates ~A when one changes one's mind and rejects A, how is that hypocritical?

(Unless you believe that every time one changes one's mind, it constitutes hypocrisy -- which would be a strange new definition of which I was previously unaware.)

Dafydd

The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 21, 2011 5:51 AM

The following hissed in response by: Mr. Michael

Yep... line 3 of your Hypo would make the charge of hypocrisy manifestly untrue... but either line 3 would be needed to be said, or line 2 would need to be proven false in order to defend from the charge.

Sadly, in order to prove line 2 false, Parah would have to speak out in public about past, er, social behavior. As a Gentleman, I expect people to accept that I will never speak of such things publicly, and as a Lady, I expect Parah to do the same. So we then come to the real reason the Left uses this kind of attack: Decency forbids one from defending oneself.

The above hissed in response by: Mr. Michael [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 21, 2011 2:53 PM

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