It is my fallen nature that causes me to delight in stories about hypocrisy. We are all hypocrites if we use that term to mean we behave in ways contrary to the ideals we espouse. Technically that’s not what hypocrisy means. Rather it refers to claiming to believe something different than what one believes. Or as Wikipedia puts it “Hypocrisy is the state of pretending to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that one does not actually have.” It involves deception.
Still, we have a media that is “on it” whenever someone who espouses family values is embroiled in an adulterous affair. If they’re involved in adultery, prostitution, homosexuality and drug rings? We call that a fantastic news cycle.
Hypocrisy and other moral failures are covered not infrequently on the Godbeat. But I also find it interesting when they are not covered.
The Guardian has an interesting article up about Matt Damon that begins:
Matt Damon‘s politics owe a great deal to his mother. The first time Nancy Carlsson-Paige saw her son featured in a glossy magazine, she was appalled. “My beautiful boy is being used to sell products,” she told a newspaper. “He is just a cog in the capitalist system.” She’d never even read a magazine like Vanity Fair before, her son explains. “She’s a professor. If it’s not the Nation, she doesn’t read it. And she said, ‘This thing is nothing but page after page of adverts for products that nobody needs!’” He chuckles.
I am not terribly knowledgeable about Damon but among other political causes he espouses, he’s a huge supporter of public schools. In the video above he talks about some of that. He actually flew from Vancouver, B.C., to Washington, D.C., to attend a rally for public schools. He has children, which leads some to wonder which public school he sends them to or what his experience with his children’s public school is. The Guardian covers this point:
Choosing a school has already presented a major moral dilemma. “Sending our kids in my family to private school was a big, big, big deal. And it was a giant family discussion. But it was a circular conversation, really, because ultimately we don’t have a choice. I mean, I pay for a private education and I’m trying to get the one that most matches the public education that I had, but that kind of progressive education no longer exists in the public system. It’s unfair.” Damon has campaigned against teachers’ pay being pegged to children’s test results: “So we agitate about those things, and try to change them, and try to change the policy, but you know, it’s a tough one.”
Ay yi yi!
Well, yes, many parents feel they can’t choose public schools for a variety of reasons. My mom just retired after 40 years as a public school teacher and I don’t feel I can in good conscience send my children to the public schools I pay for with my tax dollars. We send our children to a wonderful private school. The Guardian piece is just a puff profile of a dreamy celebrity. I don’t exactly expect the natural follow-up questions about parents who can’t afford the luxury of private schools, & etc. But I do find it interesting that the mainstream media itself is so uninterested in this situation.
There are many prominent politicians and celebrities who send their children to elite private schools while opposing school choice for poor citizens or other public school reforms. They are almost never treated as hypocrites by the mainstream media. (In this case, Damon is getting some “hypocrisy” push-back from conservative media.)
Why is that? We is it so easy for us to shout “A ha! Hypocrite!” at one class of people and not at others? Why do we bring morality or Biblical edicts into stories about some people’s sexual behavior but avoid discussing morality on non-sexual stories? And I don’t just mean the small potato stuff like how one chooses to educate one’s child. We frequently avoid ethical discussions (including discussions on hypocrisy) in the media on anything from crony corporate capitalism to drone warfare.
What’s going on there? Any theories?