Recently senior Sony executives shown to have made certain disparaging remarks in private emails about celebrities and president Obama are said to be resigning. Ever since emails hacked by the North Koreans were made public, their private behavior is being held to a politically correct standard. The irony is that one of the executives was a well-known Obama supporter.
Recently, Cornell Law professor William Jacobson argued that even if you are guilty of nothing illegal, PC can still find you guilty of something. Speaking on the Steve Malzberg show, Jacobson maintained the spate of accusations about college rape is not aimed at prosecuting anyone but ‘bringing down the patriarchy’; about expanding the space of political correctness. Never mind if something was said in whispered confidence or jest, it may later be recalled to one’s immense disadvantage.
Recently the European Union demanded the establishment of the Right to be Forgotten. “The issue has arisen from the desires of some individuals to ‘determine the development of his life in an autonomous way, without being perpetually or periodically stigmatized as a consequence of a specific action performed in the past'”. Perhaps alongside it there will soon be another — the Right to be a Hypocrite.
Wikipedia defines hypocrisy as “the claim or pretense of holding beliefs, feelings, standards, qualities, opinions, behaviors, virtues, motivations, or other characteristics that one does not in actual fact hold. It is the practice of engaging in the same behavior or activity for which one criticizes another.”
But the same article points out that hypocrisy can be useful. “Various studies have shown that there can be benefits from inducing hypocrisy. A 2004 report stated that smoking amongst college students decreases when hypocrisy was induced. Furthermore, another study has stated that condom use increases amongst college students when hypocrisy is induced.”
Not only that, it helps people ‘get along’, for we often prefer the fake person to the real. Hypocrisy is what makes PC bearable. It is a mask that keeps our facial muscles from sagging from fatigue.
The entire movement against Hate Speech is from one point of view a campaign to institutionalize organized hypocrisy, for it is tremendously useful, the axle grease of modern society. There is now a movement in Europe asserting the “right not to be offended” the better for us to get along. Back in 2006, a labor union moved to dismiss a bus driver from his position after it became known he had joined the British National Party, which led to a long lawsuit. After all, people had the right not to be subjected to the presence of a right-wing bus driver.
Arthur Redfearn was a bus driver for Serco Ltd, trading as West Yorkshire Transport Service, for Bradford City Council. He was disabled and drove a bus for disabled people. He had been rated as a first class employee by his Asian supervisor. But then he was elected as councillor for Bradford, representing the right-wing British National Party. The union had words with Serco, who said that on “health and safety” grounds he would be made redundant. The alleged idea was that in an area with large ethnic populations, his profile would make him a target for violent attacks, and that could make for an unsafe bus service.
In one case challenging the legality of anti-abortion posters depicting dead fetuses, advocates for the ban said they had an expectation against being distressed in their own homes. This danger has led to the practice of inserting trigger warnings before shows or articles. Maybe the fictional Colonel Nathan Jessep was right. Modern society can’t handle the truth. “You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall.” We need lies, that’s the truth, so if you ever actually have to depict a fact, post a trigger warning.
Organized hypocrisy has been around for long time. In its best form it was about creating a standard, as shown in a video excerpt of the Four Feathers below. Hypocrisy was part of the call to Duty upon which the British Empire was founded. The character Ethne Eustace, responding to her fiance’s decision not to join his regiment says “but you were not born free Harry, nor was I. We were born into a tradition. A code which we must obey even if we do not believe. And we must obey it Harry because the pride and happiness of everyone surrounding us depends upon our obedience.” So go to the Sudan, Harry. Get on that wall and never speak of it again.
But today hypocrisy is probably all about appearances and staying out of trouble with the liberal mutawa, or religious police, who go about with their whips and clubs in search of public impiety. There is no more impulse to empire however there’s still hypocrisy and lots of it.
Perhaps it doesn’t matter who you really are; what counts is what people think you are. It’s so tiring we may need the Right to be Forgotten simply to survive. In ancient times the Greeks worshipped the goddness Hypnos, the Roman Somnus, which dwelt by the river Lethe symbolizing forgetfulness.
Who could endure the rigors of Political Correctness without forgetfulness. I think the executives at Sony will be just fine once everyone has Moved On. All they need to do is offer up their prayers to Hypnos, the goddess of oblivion, whose bust in the British Museum.
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