Monday, 2 April 2007

Hypocrisy - How Close?

A common trait amongst politicians appears to be “hypocrisy”. So often they call each other “hypocrite”; so often bloggers call politicians “hypocrite”; so often bloggers call other bloggers “hypocrite”.

I have used the term against Blair, MPs, politicians and even against ME!

Despite its heavy use I suspect we miss many examples of hypocrisy. The easiest to miss are those closest to us whereas hypocrisy is easy to see in those with whom we disagree.

There was a good example in Iain Dale’s Diary a few days ago where Iain asked his readers if he was hypocritical for not commenting on the report which criticised David Cameron for using his parliamentary office for party political fundraising. The majority view appeared to be that Iain could write what he wanted in his blog and that he wasn’t being hypocritical.

Iain felt that because his was an avowedly Tory blog there wasn’t the need for balance between reporting Labour and Tory failings. He’s right. There is no need for balance but the blog can still be hypocritical.

Imagine that Iain criticised only Arsenal supporters for behaviour which was also exhibited by West Ham fans. This would be an example of hypocrisy. That Iain has said he is a West Ham fan explains the lack of balance but doesn’t remove the hypocrisy.

Now I haven’t used this example to highlight Iain’s hypocrisy – it’s a trivial example - rather I use it to demonstrate how difficult it is to see when we, or those close to us, are being hypocritical.

I’m sure, even in the one month I’ve been blogging, that I have been hypocritical on more occasions than I care to know. I imagine that this applies to others also but I know that I subject the views of others to a higher level of scrutiny than I apply to my views. I am used to my views; I am comfortable with them and so I don’t check them out for consistency. Herein lies the reason for my hypocrisy.

Those who hold different views: they’re subjected to rigorous analysis and, therefore, I find their hypocrisy.

Not only do I miss my hypocrisy because I don’t check my views for consistency I am doubly hypocritical because I apply different standards to others.

I’m sure this is a common occurrence but it does remind me to be more careful about my views.

There is a brilliant / cringing example of hypocrisy in today’s Independent (http://tinyurl.com/32m2w7). The paper carries an article in which Piers Morgan interviews Alan Rusbridger – editor of The Guardian. On so many topics Rusbridger was shown to do “things” which The Guardian criticised in others.

This article should be a lesson to us all.

Subject our own views and actions to the same scrutiny we apply to others.

Without this, the label “HYPOCRITE” is liable to hang from our neck.

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