Moralistic conservatives, anxious to strip others of their freedom, announce that they are conducting their jihad in the name of some moral virtue. Then, like clockwork, they themselves get caught up in the moralist dragnet that they throw out for others. Jeremy Lott tries to argue that's not a problem. The conservatives are still the defenders of morality and those who criticize their hypocrisy have little to no moral values themselves.
"The popular usage of the term 'hypocrite' is expansive like a shotgun blast, and is often brought in to describe someone we don't like, doing something that we disagree with, involving some sort of perceived contradiction."
It's an old familiar routine. Dick accuses Jane of rank hypocrisy, while ignoring his own moral inconsistencies. Jane is outraged by the charge, and fires right back. And author Jeremy Lott? Well he's blowing a wet raspberry at the whole ridiculous spectacle.
In Defense of Hypocrisy deconstructs pat prejudices and shallow moralism to probe hypocrisy's real significance, asking:
* Why there is so much hypocrisy, and so much hatred of it?
* Why do we behave so inconsistently but then denounce those traits in others?
* Why are people so often fooled by hypocrites?
* What if hypocrisy is more than just a necessary evil? In fact, what if hypocrisy is also an engine of moral progress?
In Defense of Hypocrisy is part political, part religious, part philosophical, and all honesty. Though the word has long since reached epithet status, Lott beckons the reader to see the real virtue-impoverished agendas behind the accusations and embrace a sturdier, more realistic understanding of a much-maligned vice.
The charges have been brought, the jury bought, and the judge clears his throat to hand down the expected judgment:
"Hypocrisy is a most damnable offense. . . "
"Not so fast," says Jeremy Lott. "I object!"
In Defense of Hypocrisy is the case for a mistrial-a thought-provoking, wit-filled, morally-charged, rollicking justification of good people who behave badly. Lott tackles the alleged two-facedness of popular targets from Bill Bennett to Dick Morris to Britney Spears. Far from focusing merely on politics, Lott looks at philosophy, history, theology, and pop culture to give the hypocrites their due.
This gutsy expos? of the corrosive uses of hypocrisy accusations will challenge you to open your mind, hang the jury, and decide for yourself:
Is hypocrisy really so bad? Clearly the conservative Lott says no. But then, libertarians might argue that conservatives have NEVER held to moral values, only old values, moral or not. You judge whether Lott has made his case. Hardback, 193 pages, list price, $22.99; our price, $9.95.