As GetReligion readers know, I rather enjoy pointing out the good work of friends of this blog. That’s one of the nice things about communicating in such a personal medium.
However, my weekly Scripps Howard News Service column is a different kettle of fish. I have, through the years, worried about when I should write about books and projects linked to my friends — people who are often highly involved in newsy work linked to religion. And how “close” a friend does a friend have to be in order to be put into the off-limits file? What if the close friend is an authority on a topic and you quote them as part of a column, but their work is not the total focus of the column?
In the past, I have simply raised these issues on a case-by-case basis with my editors. In the recent past, I have started trying to make it much clearer when I have a working relationship with someone who is also an authority on a topic I want to write about. Like this, or especially like this.
All of this is a prelude to saying that my column this week focuses on the fall of Congressman Mark Foley, which, of course, raised the issue of hypocrisy, and that meant that the logical person to talk to at the moment is young master Jeremy Lott, formerly of the non-Borg here at GetReligion. Lott is, of course, the author of the recent book In Defense of Hypocrisy.
Anyway, with that warning, the column starts like this:
Talk about bad timing.
On the day after former Congressman Mark Foley entered an alcohol rehab program, his beleaguered staff received a package. With reporters watching, they unpacked a framed copy of one of his most famous pieces of legislation — a bill requiring a crackdown on sexual predators, including those who exploit minors online.
And all the people said: “Hypocrite!”
“It’s hard to talk about the Foley story without talking about hypocrisy,” said journalist Jeremy Lott, referring to the congressman’s spectacular fall after discovery of his explicit digital messages to teen-aged male Capitol pages. “I mean, Mark Foley’s a hypocrite, the Republicans are hypocrites, the Democrats are hypocrites and lots of journalists are hypocrites, too. Right now, I can’t think of anyone in the Foley affair who isn’t being accused of being a hypocrite by somebody and lots of the anti-hypocrites are being hypocritical, too.”
What can I say? The young man is the expert on hypocrisy right now.
Wait, let me restate that.