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Valar Qringaomis

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

On Hypocrisy

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Hypocrisy

Michael Buerk: Relationships, politics, business, religion, all depend on some level of hypocrisy don't they? More than that, hypocrisy allows us to have standards and at least pretend to meet them. Where would virtue be without it? Is hypocrisy itself a vice or a virtue? Who casts the first stone?...

Giles Fraser: Well, I don't what you mean by that, really. I mean I think hypocrisy is a dealist (sp?) moral crime. I'm a hypocrite, I think we're all hypocrites. Sometimes hypocrisy is just a consequence of aiming high, of trying to be a better person than you are. And that's got to be so much better than aiming low, espousing no moral position as a way of avoiding being exposed as a hypocrite...

Melanie Phillips: Our society's obsession with hypocrisy, with consistency, with transparency shows that it no longer has any moral virtues to betray

Matthew Taylor: Isn't that precisely the problem with hypocrisy? Which is it's a charge which by its very nature is more likely to be directed to those who assert morality, who try to do good. Because they are the ones who fail to meet their standard...

The best way to avoid hypocrisy is none of us to ever assert anything that we could ever fail to achieve...

David Runciman: It's a necessary evil... in politics, politicians kind of have to wear two faces. I mean they're appealing to different groups at different times, they have to be able to change their mind.

If we put the premium on consistency, I think we get a thinner politics as a result. So we need to tolerate it. We don't have to like it, we have to tolerate it...

If hypocrisy pervades everything, if it makes a mockery of everything, if nothing that anyone says in public can be trusted, you have a very very corrupted and corroded society and politics.

But the other side of that is if you try and drive hypocrisy out of politics, you also get something that you don't want. The drive for sincerity, I don't think gives you sincerity, it gives you paranoia, it gives you politicians who are frightened of saying things, who are frightened of appealing to our better instincts..

There're lots of kinds of hypocrisy and my problem with it is that we use it as this kind of dealbreaking argument. You spot the hypocrisy and the argument is over because the other person is a hypocrite. Lots of that hypocrisy has to be allowed...

Certainly it's a criticism that we need to have available to us. But it has become ubiquitous.

It's not just that there's a lot of hypocrisy about. There's a lot of anti-hypocrisy about as well.

There's a lot of looking for it, searching it out, partly because we know in politics it works. Negative advertising works in politics. Because most negative advertising is identifying the hypocrisy.

You once said this, now you say that. You once did this, now you did that. You're a liar.

If you look for it you'll find it. And if you find it you won't get less hypocrisy, what you'll get is more secretive politicians...

If you think of the full range of hypocrisy that covers, that kind of hypocrisy that people hate.

For instance Hilary Clinton gives a speech about climate change and then she gets on a private jet. QED, she's a hypocrite. You can't believe what she says about climate change.

It's probably hard to campaign to be President of the United States without getting on a private jet. So does that mean that none of the candidates are allowed to take climate change seriously? That's the danger the other way. And the line is somewhere between the two...

Reverend Colin Coward: Everybody at times in their lives behaves hypocritcally. It's endemic to the human condition. Because all of us are setting out to present an idealised self to the world...

Melanie Phillips: We live in a society where hypocrisy has become *the* vice. Hypocrisy is the vice that the virtues are transparency and consistency and this is a society which does not allow hypocrisy because it does not have any moral virtues to deviate from.

So it elevates the transparency into a moral virtue, thus revealing and concealing at the same time the fact that it has no moral virtues. If you don't have moral standards you can't have backsliding. The backsliding cannot ever be condoned, but paradoxically if you say you can never have any backsliding, you can never have anything to backslide from and therefore you have no morality. And that's te society we're living in.
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