Quick Roundup 212

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The boy who cried "hypocrisy"!

[Update: A commenter raises the following point, which I should have been more clear about: "[H]ypocrisy is a serious moral defect if it encompasses basic principles." True, but focusing on the hypocrisy of someone who would be immoral anyway even if he weren't a hypocrite is a failure to address what is wrong with that person's moral code in the first place. More in the comments.]

I see that I'm not the only one who is unimpressed when someone points out merely that someone else is a hypocrite. Brad Eisenhauer considers a video he summarizes as follows:

If wearing a burqa is an act of self-respect, of not "engaging in a mating ritual in the public street," why are Muslim men not similarly covered? Do they have less self-respect? Are they publicly engaging in mating rituals?
He finds its argument to be thin gruel, intellectually.
I've seen atheists, even principled ones, often making this kind of argument, "cleverly" pointing out a contradiction or double standard in religious ideas. But here's the problem: It doesn't really make much of a point, and it comes off as a bit childish or arrogant.
What does he think should have been said? Stop by his blog to find out.

Terrible Bill Only Narrowly Defeated

Commenting on an interesting post by Monica on the automobile industry, the Software Nerd discusses the cataclysmic effect that unionization has had on this industry in America. This is morbidly interesting, but it isn't his main point. He saves that for last:
The real reason unions want to abolish secret ballots is that they know that while many workers are against unions, those workers do not have the philosophical arguments for their stand. When encountered by a persistent union organizer, spewing socialist theory at them, they often nod, express sympathy for the cause, and and go on with their life. Later, in the secrecy of the voting booth, they go with their real view and keep the unions out. Unions want the bully session to end with some type of signature that can be used just like a vote.

Write to your congressman and tell him to uphold secret ballots for unions. [The bill passed the house and was rejected 51-48 by the senate. Tell your congressman not to try again.]
I also blogged this bill some time ago. (It was mis-named "Employee Free Choice Act".)

It is very bad news indeed that we came this close to having such a bill passed. In fact, I would say that such a result almost guarantees that it will be brought up again soon, so this is good advice

Making Rational Ideas More Easily Available

Nick Provenzo argues that the Ayn Rand Institute should make its lectures more easily available than it currently does:
Now don't get me wrong. I honor the Institute for the excellent and valuable work it does advancing Objectivism (especially for making these lectures available in the first place), but come on--we live in the Internet age. If I can buy a book by an Objectivist thinker in the $10 to $40 dollar range, how can it profit anyone to charge hundreds of dollars for an audio lecture that same book is based upon? And whatever the price it decides to charge, why can't the Institute put the audio up on iTunes?

I for one would like to see the Institute revisit and rethink its bookstore strategy, and come up with a plan that makes it easier for an even larger audience to get access to Objectivist ideas.
Not only that, as I have argued, downloadable formats would make it far easier (and a lot quicker) for intellectuals sympathetic to Ayn Rand's ideas to conduct research for their own work.
Hmmm. I can't even buy this on-line and be sure of getting what I want! If I call and find this to be the case, my choices are down to: (a) a book I will have to think long and hard about purchasing, (b) a pamphlet I'll probably misplace, or (c) a whole bunch of pamphlets I can have fun keeping track of. Great.

But let's say the CD set had everything. There's still a problem. This was on a Sunday, and both stores are doubtless small operations. I didn't try, but I bet I would have gotten a phone message at either place informing me that the time to place orders is during normal business hours.

Furthermore, I am not sure when I'll have time to sit down and think about this topic at length again. The time I really wanted this article was yesterday. What I really would have liked is to be able to order the article electronically in PDF form, or otherwise viewed it online.
There's a saying, "Time is money." I disagree. Time is worse than money. It's irreplaceable and constantly going away.

Provenzo on Internet Radio

Nick also explores the webcaster side of the Internet radio royalty debate a bit further.

-- CAV


: Added note to hypocrisy section.


Mark said...

Leaving aside this particular case, I'm not sure what you mean by hypocrisy charges being unimpressive or "thin gruel." I think hypocrisy is a serious moral defect if it encompasses basic principles. Integrity is a cardinal Objectivist virtue for a reason. If a man's principles aren't guiding his actions, emotions are. That makes him a pretty dangerous person, I'd say.

Gus Van Horn said...


Your point that hypocristy is a serious moral defect is quite well-taken and is something I should have been more clear about.

Having said that, my exact words were "... I'm not the only one who is unimpressed when someone points out merely that someone else is a hypocrite."

What I am doing here is commenting on the common practice of substituting this moral judgement for an intellectual argument.

So what is wrong with accusing someone whose moral code you disagree with with being a hypocrite? You risk sounding like you endorse him following his own moral code for one thing. More importantly, you fail to contest the legitimacy of his moral code.

I regard Islam as morally bankrupt. I do not want Moslems to become more consistent practicioners of their faith. I want them to abandon it altogether. Furthermore, and where I am more likely to make a difference, I want to fight against the idea implicit in mere cries of "hypocrisy" that Islam would be okay but for the hypocrisy of Moslems.

Hope that helps. And, actually, answering your comment gave me a chance to "chew" over what about this practice I do not like, so thank you.


Anonymous said...

"What I am doing here is commenting on the common practice of substituting this moral judgement for an intellectual argument."

Excellent point. When the news came out that Al Gore's home (mansion actually) was not leaving a "low carbon footprint", the conservatives were quick to point out that Gore was guilty of hypocricy. But this was a non-essential point in this case.

As you made the point about the danger of more consistent muslims, so too with the danger of more consistent environmentalists. The real point was and is that Gore is promoting a malicious, life-hating, collectivist ideology, and he is doing it as a means to acquire political power and prestige (as well as financial reward as I understand he is heavily invested in funds that trade "carbon credits").

Gore is immoral for a host of reasons first and foremost that he is an altruist/collectivist villian right out of Atlas Shrugged. That he is a hypocrite is an interesting side point. It simply illustrates that he doesn't really believe his own propoganda. I guess that would make him something along the lines of "Atilla" (to borrow from Ayn Rand). The "Witch Doctors" would be all the scientists and intellecuals behind environmentalism.

J. Sabino

Gus Van Horn said...

Good point regarding the environmentalists, although in one respect, it isn't really all that surprising that when you scratch an altruist, hypocrisy bleeds out: That moral code, if one were to follow it consistently, would kill you in short order.

An altruist has to be a hypocrite on some level just to live. The following is pure speculation, but on a psychological level, the quickness of so many conservatives to point this out might indicate a desire to hide from realizing this of themselves.

Brad Eisenhauer said...

I've been blogging for exactly one day, and already I've been included in a roundup on one of my favorite blogs. Life is good!

Thanks, Gus.

Gus Van Horn said...

You're welcome. And thanks back at you for the good material, and for counting me among your favorites!

Mark said...

Thanks for responding, Gus. I understand and agree. By picking on the hypocrisy, the implication is that if the person acted on his principles, there would be no problem. In fact, it might be worse, depending on the principles. I guess highlighting hypocrisy makes the most sense when the person has the correct moral code and then acts against it.

Gus Van Horn said...

Again, I appreciate your leaving that comment, both for the reason I already stated and for the fact that it is good knowing that I have alert readers who are willing to throw the flag if I say something that sounds out of line.

Dinesh Pillay said...

I really do hope that ARI rethinks its bookstore policies & prices! The $100 price tag translates to Rs. 4000/- here in India and thats just not affordable.

Perhaps they need to think in terms of global intellectual market penetration.

- Dinesh.

Gus Van Horn said...

Ouch! Some of their stuff is expensive even for the American market. I hadn't even considered how the prices might translate to other markets.