For some odd reason, hypocrisy is an ethical fault that I find particularly interesting, perhaps outrageous. I think that it was my study of the religion in which I'd been indoctrinated that led to a continued interest in the problem as a skeptic.
So it caught my eye when a self-described '2nd amendment enthusiast' went after some celebrities when they lent their support to Mayors Against Illegal Guns' Demand a Plan campaign.
It may not come as such a surprise that the charge of hypocrisy may be somewhat misplaced.
I read about the charge of hypocrisy in the New York Daily News. A gun rights activist, so the story goes, put together a mashup video, showing certain celebrities who had lent their faces and voices to Demand a Plan, and also in movies, wielding guns.
The video, however, doesn’t acknowledge that many of the celebrity films clips were of actors playing police, FBI agents or members of the military. It also identifies the celebrity PSA as “anti-gun,” when the video, and the Mayors Against Illegal Guns campaign, actually calls for tighter gun control, including requiring a background check on every gun sold and a ban on high-capacity magazines.Never let the truth stop you when trying to reveal some uncomfortable truth...right? I mean, why not be hypocritical about complaining about hypocrisy. No need to worry about the nuances of tighter gun control measures, just wave that broad "anti-gun" brush about. Claim the moral high ground, from a ditch.
Just in case the Daily News was exaggerating about this YouTube poster, I had a look at his profile.
About MASS ONEDon't yinz blame Pittsburgh or the Steelers. I think they're ok too.
I LOVE TO RAP, DRAW LETTERS, I'M A BIG 2ND AMENDMENT ENTHUSIAST, STEELERS FAN, TRUTH SEEKER, AND AN ALLENTOWN OF PITTSBURGH, PA REPRESENTATIVE. I'M FLUENT IN PITTSBURGHESE
Anyway, if ma5one finds that label inconvenient and changes his profile (which I do not expect), there are also some fascinating videos he posted, like "F*CK ALL ANTI-GUN GUN GRABBING GUN BANNING BRAINWASHED ZOMBIES" or "Banning guns will cause a civil war." (haven't I seen that somewhere else before? how about right here?) or the video in question at the Daily News, "GRAPHIC Demand A Plan - Demand Celebrities Go F*CK Themselves!"
...so I think it's fair to characterize the fellow as a 'gun rights activist.'
Meanwhile...what was that definition again?
Hypocrisy is the state of promoting or administering virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that one does not actually have and is also guilty of violating. Hypocrisy often involves the deception of others and thus can be considered a kind of lie.So I wonder, if the charge of hypocrisy is appropriate for an actor who supports gun control and makes money portraying the use of guns. I think there's room for interpretation there; after all, there are those who blame violent movies for encouraging violent behavior.
Hypocrisy is not simply failing to practice those virtues that one preaches. Samuel Johnson made this point when he wrote about the misuse of the charge of "hypocrisy" in Rambler No. 14:
Nothing is more unjust, however common, than to charge with hypocrisy him that expresses zeal for those virtues which he neglects to practice; since he may be sincerely convinced of the advantages of conquering his passions, without having yet obtained the victory, as a man may be confident of the advantages of a voyage, or a journey, without having courage or industry to undertake it, and may honestly recommend to others, those attempts which he neglects himself.
Thus, an alcoholic's advocating temperance, for example, would not be considered an act of hypocrisy as long as the alcoholic made no pretense of constant sobriety.
Which leads me, naturally, to the NRA.
During his December 21 speech at Washington DC's Willard Hotel, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre sought to refocus the debate on the political response to the shooting away from new regulations on guns. He instead passed blame to what he called "a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people," specifically highlighting "the blood-soaked slasher films like 'American Psycho' and 'Natural Born Killers' that are aired like propaganda loops."Yes, who can forget Wayne LaPierre's bizarre rant, which did everything but blame heavy metal and Dungeons & Dragons (maybe he did, I forget) for gun violence, everything he could think of but the guns themselves. A discredited notion, to be sure, and never mind my personal experience of playing the wrong games, listening to the wrong music, reading the wrong comic books, and apparently watching all the wrong movies and yet somehow I have not gone on a killing spree. Yet.
Of course, academic research has discredited the notion that violent movies encourage violent behavior. But it nonetheless seems clear that the NRA's aversion to violent films is extremely inconsistent.
The thing about hypocrites, though. The deception. Usually it's not so simple as in the case of the YouTube poster. Typically there's some attempt, however lame, to cover it up, to hide the deception. To hide the fact. So it is with the NRA.
The NRA once posted this promotional video on their website and promoted it on their YouTube channel, but it has since been deleted, and thankfully preserved in all its glory by Media Matters. It's about their "Hollywood Guns" exhibit at the NRA National Firearms Museum; according to Media Matters, the exhibit is less than twenty miles away from Wayne LaPierre's bad trip, er, press conference in DC.
In the video, museum senior curator Phil Schreier says, "[W]e encourage you to come by and visit this sequel and come see a true blockbuster here in Fairfax, where all the stars of the silver screen have descended into these galleries and are represented by some of the firearms that we've fallen in love with in our youth and our adulthood, wishing that we too could be like our matinee idols."Mind you, that's the NRA museum curator connecting the dots between the NRA, firearms manufacturers, and the violent movies they use to sell more guns. This relationship has been studied, apparently. Not by the gov't, I'm sure. Some Republican has no doubt passed a law against that.
Gun expert Tom Diaz has detailed how the NRA and the firearms industry use violent movies to sell more guns, including the role of the "Hollywood Guns" museum exhibit. As he explains, the exhibit is based in the museum's William B. Ruger Gallery, named for the founder of the Sturm, Ruger & Company firearms company. Diaz also points out that Ruger himself blamed violent movies and television for gun violence, not the availability of the firearms themselves.So it's one thing to blame violent movies for gun violence in order to escape blame oneself. It's a demonstrably false argument, but that's one thing. It is another to go ahead and exploit violent movies yourself as well, to do the very thing you seek to attack others for, to call them a bad thing and then turn a profit on it too. To flat out admit it...
...wishing that we too could be like our matinee idols....and then take down the video and try to hide what it is that you've done. That, I think, is a clear case of hypocrisy.
Meanwhile, the word is that mentions of gun control have slipped out of the news cycle, which comes as no surprise to me or anyone else who has taken the time to observe the cycle. Mass shooting, outrage, add time -- equals nothing. It was an inconvenient time, however, politically speaking. I would still like to see something happen during the year. I wouldn't say that I am willing to wait, but more resigned to it, with the knowledge that while we wait, more people will die.