Bring Back Integrity

BY JAMIE FOSTER

“For me, comedy starts as a spew, a kind of explosion, and then you sculpt it from there, if at all. It comes out of a deeper, darker side. Maybe it comes from anger, because I’m outraged by cruel absurdities, the hypocrisy that exists everywhere, even within yourself, where it’s hardest to see.”

Robin Williams

There is nothing new about hypocrisy, it is an ever-constant condition that we are subject to. Right now, there seems to be an awful lot of it about. It would appear that, as Robin Williams points out, it is hardest to see within ourselves. As voices are raised in condemnation of various subjects, those giving voice seem blissfully unaware of the hypocrisy of their stances. It is almost too easy to collect examples of hypocrisy at the moment, nonetheless it is worth considering a few:

The Damian Green affair is replete with hypocrisy. Those shouting about a minister being caught with legal pornography on his computer are the same people who thought Hilary Clinton’s use of her computer to send government information through private emails was no big deal. If Green wasn’t a Tory minister it is unlikely that this would even have proved to be a story at all. Legal pornography is so common on the internet that it is unlikely that anyone shouting about Green hasn’t at some point browsed pornographic images. The level of hypocrisy surrounding this story is sky high.

Sadiq Khan leads the condemnation of Donald Trump for retweeting videos posted by Britain First. He is among those who call for Trump’s state visit to the UK to be cancelled. This is despite the fact that, as a lawyer Khan represented the extremist Louis Farrakhan and tried to ensure that he could visit the country. Farrakhan was every bit as divisive as Britain First, basing his Fruits of Islam ideology on racism and division. Khan doesn’t seem to recognise this as hypocrisy on his part, but it is nonetheless.

Far left Labour MP Emma Dent Coad is an outspoken critic of the way women are treated in the media. Despite this she tweeted that Theresa May is ugly in a particularly unpleasant rant last week. What is more objectifying than referring to a female MP’s physical characteristics when attacking her? Had the press run a story attacking a female MP’s looks, Dent Coad would be at the forefront of those complaining about it, yet she feels happy to use the same tactic herself without batting an eyelid. Pure hypocrisy at its most obvious there.

There are plenty of examples of hypocrisy on the world stage at the moment. The North Koreans accuse the US of warmongering while testing ballistic missiles themselves. This is every bit as hypocritical as any other example on the list.

What is it that allows someone to raise their voice in condemnation of behaviours so similar to the ones they themselves indulge in? What is it that makes hypocrisy so commonplace? It is almost as if introspection is no longer indulged in by the screech-first-think-later brigade. Every week we see examples of people decrying the spreading of ‘hate’ by spreading hate themselves. Is it time for us all to take a step back before casting the first stone? Every time we hear a Remainer complaining about the lies behind the Brexit campaign do we need to remind ourselves about the predicted economic disaster if we voted to leave? It is almost as if there isn’t a single argument out there that isn’t full of hypocrisy.

In the end those of us who wish to avoid hypocrisy need to gird ourselves against it. This is partly achieved by resisting the urge to jump on bandwagons, which are always full of potential for hypocrisy. It is also achieved by careful introspection. Before we decry failings in others we need to look critically at our own actions to ensure we aren’t guilty of the same failings we are decrying. This lack of introspection at the moment is a worrying sign of the state of public discourse. It is time to buck the trend of hypocrisy and reintroduce integrity to public life. It is time to root out hypocrisy in all its forms and demand that the baying hordes practice what they preach.

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