The Opposition Thread


Yeesh. Just because someone can rationalize something to make themselves not feel like a hypocrite doesn’t make them less of a hypocrite.


What? Not at all.

Jimmy Swaggart is a hypocrite, based on his public denouncement of adultery followed by admission of adultery.

Easy. No omniscience required.


I agree, but the definition used by Magnet allows us to formulate the defence.

I think the definitions of words have a huge impact on how conversations proceed. And once we get it right, we can see what others actually mean. Not that we have to agree with the definition.


The only defence you’ve suggested is that words could mean something completely different to what the audience is intended to think.

Which is not a defense at all. If you admit that, then you can literally prove that up is down and black is white.


I’m not familiar with Jimmy Swaggart.

But the thing is this, you don’t know exactly what went on in his mind when he committed the act that you are judging on. He may have his “reasons”.

They may be unjustified reasons. But they are still legitimate reasons in his mind.

Again, I’m staying true to your definition. So unless Jimmy himself admits to being a hypocrite, I would think you are not true to your own definition of hypocrisy when you call him out.


Which is what post modernism is all about. Everything is in flux, black is white and white is black. In fact, black is what I think it is.


Again, the reasons are irrelevant. You keep trying to make them relevant. But they aren’t.

Only two pieces of evidence are relevant:

  1. What he said.
  2. What he did.

Both are in public view, and they are not open to interpretation.

Oh, and Jimmy Swaggart was a televangelist who admitted to all sorts of adultery.


Wait: Did you change, or using a better word, elaborated on your original definition of Hypocrisy? Does it now have something to do with public declarations?


I originally said that hypocrisy is denouncing someone who follows your example.

The denouncement is what you say.

The example is what you do. “Example” is deliberately chosen to emphasize a public action. I did not say “who follows your internal reasoning” or “who follows your internal motivations”.


How would this fit into the scheme of things if what is being “said” is used as a criteria for determining hypocrisy.

“Boycott is bad in general except when you boycott for my reasons.” is the same as “I specifically denounce gays who are not in a monogamous relationship”.


Ok, suppose you say “boycott is bad in general except when you boycott for abortion”.

Then you should (1) avoid boycotts in general, and (2) make an exception for abortion. Otherwise you are a hypocrite. Any internal reasoning is irrelevant.


Hmmm, in that case, I think I misunderstood your definition after all. Reasons are not important. Just actions and declarations are. So a person who boycotts but criticizes others for boycotting. Whatever the reasons, they are hypocrites.

That’s fair. Although people dont talk like that. The exceptions only arises when you probe deeper. For all you know, there are a whole lot of exceptions people do not bother telling you about. Until they show that it is their exceptions through what they do.

And to be fair, you cannot call them out as hypocrites just because they have not yet said what those exceptions are.


When we condemn hypocrisy, we are usually aiming at the public figures who made an unforced moral declaration and demand to be taken seriously. We don’t condemn the third-grader who blurts something out and maybe hasn’t thought things through.

In the former case, at a minimum they should have evaluated their own behavior, and identified any necessary caveats in their statement (or acknowledged their own deficiency). It’s the basic due diligence of the intellectual, and that’s why we are so critical of those who fail to do so.


Just to set the record straight.

I personally hold to the traditional definition of hypocrisy which is summed up in “They are wrong to do it, but I am right to do it because…”

Just stating the reasons for doing the exact same action you denounce does not make you less of a hypocrite.

I was just merely exploring with Magnet what happens when we make allowances and define it very slightly differently.


Add me to the list. She gets a pass.


I see some allowance made here. It makes the definition harder to nail down.
Hypocrisy should apply to anyone who does it, whether it’s a public figure or private citizen does not matter unless it becomes part of the definition. Nor does age matter.

We can see and comment on the hypocrisy of public figures and more often because by the very definition they are “public figures”. It’s not a logical extension of our line of reasoning unless we happen to also define that hypocrisy must involve public statements and/or figures.


I can’t believe you guys spent this much time talking about this. Damn.


Personally, I’m very interested in seeing how post-modernism is influencing our world views. Sometimes without us knowing it.

In this case, the traditional usage of the word hypocrisy seems to have changed. To make allowances for it’s behaviour. Using the traditional definition, it’ll make all of us hypocrites, in small or big ways.

Magnet’s illustration about lying is good because it highlighted the fact that everyone lies. But to make us non-hypocritical, we may be willing to make allowances. It’s not hypocrisy as long as I state why I’m allowed to do something I’m condemning in others.

I see that as post-modernism, which I think arose from self-justification at it’s heart. We change the definition of things, sometimes very very slightly to make us feel better.


Well, I don’t know about that… Merriam-Webster includes the following definition, which I endorse:

a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings


I think we can all agree on that. What cannot be nailed down is whether it’s even possible to state all of a person’s beliefs.

An illustration.

Parent: Lying is bad.
Child: Well you lie. So you are a hypocrite.
Parent: I’m not, because…

In an extreme case, and stretching the definition:
I’m never a hypocrite because I think I am always right.