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08 May 2003  


Ding ding ding ding ding ding ding. That is the sound of the Something Finally Makes Sense Bell, which was set off by Jonah Goldberg's remark in The Corner that:

Being wrong about gambling—if he is wrong—doesn't make Bennett a fraud, it makes him wrong. But for some reason this culture has a real problem saying people are wrong, but thinks it's easy to call people hypocrites. Worse, our culture thinks it's worse to be a hypocrite than to be wrong.

Yes…that is what is so loathsome about the whole Bennett affair. Goldberg's remark caused the following to fall into place for me:

1) The people taking such delight in bashing Bennett are folks who no longer believe in the "simplistic conception" of right and wrong.

2) As with any other cherished idea of the Left, they are determined to enforce this point of view on everyone else.

3) The new mortal sin of hypocrisy has been erected towards this end. It serves two purposes: to demonstrate the ultimate futility of trying to define and enforce any moral standards (as the "fact" that everyone is a hypocrite demonstrates that no one ever successfully lives up to such standards), and to silence anyone who tries to advocate outdated notions of right and wrong.

4) Since this weapon only exists for the purpose of destroying non-Leftists, the bien-pensant crowd has nothing to fear from it. Subscribe to their ideology, abandon the outdated notions of right and wrong (except, of course, for the core principle that the Left is right and good and its opponents are wrong and evil), and you will forever be immune from the charge of hypocrisy. (Which is why Bill Clinton was never a hypocrite.) Indeed, offer any criticism at all of the behavior of a right-thinking person and you will be denounced as one of those troglodytes who believes in right and wrong.

5) It is always open season on wrong-thinking persons, however. Not that the Left would dare moralize against behavior such as gambling directly; that would play into their enemies' hands. So they drag out the charge of hypocrisy instead, so they can bash the person and his behavior without having to argue that any of the behavior was actually wrong. Indeed, with this latest case, they have transcended the need even to connect the behavior to anything their target has publicly opposed. Bill Bennett believes in right and wrong and is willing to say so in public. He engaged in an activity which he personally has no quarrel with and has not publicly opposed…but one which his critics on the Left believe that anyone who is a "moralizer" should oppose—not that they're willing to say there's anything wrong with it either—and which therefore he is a moralizing opponent of by proxy. Therefore he is a hypocrite and the wrongness and futility of his belief in right and wrong is exposed.


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