He Who Screams Loudest… Must Be A Hypocrite?

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I ran across this article while trolling the internets: Hypocrites

I mention it, because it sparks one of those unofficial and probably ill-informed ideas I have about people.  Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that those people who seem the most outspoken, even vitriolic, about certain issues tend to have their own person struggle with the issue? 

This phenomenon was most clearly demonstrated to me when in my early twenties.  When one of the Vice Presidents of a certain college was caught surfing pornography in his office late into the night (a scandal that later uncovered pornography use by two professors – and the rampant use in the dorms, duh?) , I had a friend that seemed to react more than others.  In fact, his response was negative in the extreme.  We happened to be attending church where the aforementioned VP sang in the choir, and my friend would literally shake with fury that the man was not being paraded around on stage as a heretic and pervert.

“Months later, in tears, he confessed his own horrible struggle with pornography.”

I remember initially thinking, “you freaking hypocrite, how dare you pursue a personal vendetta against someone for doing the exact same thing.”  However, since he was coming to me for mercy and accountability, I decided that wasn’t the best response.

My feelings have since changed about that encounter, but I cannot help  noticing that this overreaction seems to be common in people.  Why is it that they lash out and attack things in others when they know they are struggling with it, too?

Apparently, there are a lot of famous people that fit this profile (you know, being an obnoxious opponent of something while engaging in the behavior themselves).  So, in the spirit of the web article I linked, and in the hopes of snatching the title of “most controversial blogger at theophiliacs” away from James for at least one day – here is an amended list of the most famous, obnoxious hypocrites in recent memory.

Just in case anyone wants to pick a fight, allow me one caveat.  Please remember the point of my post – I am NOT trying to highlight the sins of other people.  The person whose wickedness I am best informed of happens to be me.  I know my own demons well.  The point of the list is to demonstrate that there seems to be a pattern of people viciously attacking a problem/”sin” of which they happen to be quite guilty.

Let’s get the obvious, preachers, out of the way first.

Jim Bakker – I know you remember him, he was one of the first to create the modern stereotype of bad-hair brandishing, too much make-up wife marrying, golden fixtures on the stage while orating, televangelists: charged with 24 counts of fraud and conspiracy for pocketing nearly $4 million from contributions to PTL in order to maintain what the government called a, “lavish and extravagant life-style.”  The combination of preacher and “lavish and extravagant life-style” ought to be hypocrisy enough for anyone.  However, you’ll remember this all came about because of that famous trist with Jessica Hahn.

Jimmy Swaggert – who can forget that theatrical, bible-thumping, A/G preacher who was ousted for his own infidelity after dispatching another pastor with a rival TV ministry (Marvin Gorman, pastor of First A/G in New Orleans) upon learning of his extra-marital affair in confidence.

Ted Haggard – this is probably recent enough for you to remember, but I quote the article by MSN,

“He was pastor to thousands, president of the National Association of Evangelicals and consultant to presidential strategist Karl Rove. Ted Haggard, 52, was also a regular customer of male prostitute Mike Jones, who in 2006 claimed monthly, drug-fueled romps with the preacher. Haggard confessed to “sexual immorality” and resigned from his Colorado Springs’ New Life Church. As Jones later told the New York Times, “Here is Ted preaching about being shameful — You won’t see the kingdom of God if you’re gay, and blah, blah, blah — and then he sneaks around with me.”

Rush Limbaugh – Let’s face it, his rhetoric is mystifying.  The man may be obnoxious (and a hypocrite), but he is good at what he does.

“If people are violating the law by doing drugs,” Rush Limbaugh pontificated in 1995, “they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up.” Eight years later, the radio giant was himself under investigation for violating drug laws, and after three years of legal wrangling, Limbaugh was charged in Florida with fraudulently concealing information to procure prescription drugs. Translation: He allegedly “doctor shopped” to feed an addiction to painkillers.

Eliot Spitzer – There has been a lot of ink spilled over this guy, and I still feel most sorry for his wife.

Jaws dropped in March when the New York Times identified holier-than-thou New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer as Client 9 of a big-bucks prostitution ring. Wasn’t Spitzer, 49, the white knight who vowed to restore ethics to Albany? The guy who, as state attorney general, routed out Wall Street corruption? The same crusading prosecutor who only years earlier had busted up prostitution rings? Indeed it was.

Bill Bennett – I just become more and more disillusioned with people associated to the Bushes and Reagans

Education secretary for President Reagan and the first President Bush’s drug czar, Bill Bennett, 65, calls himself in his official bio “a man of strong, reasoned convictions.” He writes books with titles like “The Moral Compass” and “The Book of Virtues: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories.” Basically, not the kind of guy expected to lose an estimated $8 million over a decade at video poker and slot machines. But in 2003, the Washington Monthly revealed Bennett had done just that. Perhaps recalling his own harsh words toward irresponsible addicts, America’s morality maven said he would quit gambling.

Laurie David – just in case you think we’re only picking on conservatives here.

The go-to green gal for Oprah Winfrey and other media titans, Laurie David, 50, has done more to sound the global warming alarm than almost anyone except her chum Al Gore. She even produced the former vice president’s Oscar-winning documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.” So why does the soon-to-be ex-wife of comedian Larry David keep homes in both California and Massachusetts, and fly a private jet between the two?

Strom Thurmond – this guy is just so creepy

This controversial son of the South led the splinter party Dixiecrats in the 1948 presidential campaign on a pro-segregation platform. After losing his White House bid, Thurmond served a record 47 years in the U.S. Senate, punctuated by his 24-hour, 18-minute filibuster (another record) against the 1957 civil rights bill. Yet throughout this era, he knew he had fathered a child of an African-American housekeeper. The child, Essie Mae Washington-Williams, was 78-years-old when Thurmond died at age 100 and it became public that she was his daughter. As the New York Times indelicately put it, Washington-Williams is “the unacknowledged mixed-race daughter of the Senate’s most notorious white supremacist.”

Thanks again to Ian Hodder, contributor for MSN – I borrowed nearly all of the “footwork” from him (here)



  1. There’s a story of one of the Desert Fathers who was approached one day by a demon who asked him to identify the sheep and the goats. His response was something like, “The goats a people such as I am. Who the sheep are, God knows.” If more of us started out owning our goatness, we would be less inclined to slip into hypocritical judgmentalism. Or any other kind of judgmentalism for that matter.


  2. Fr. Gunter,

    Thanks for the reflection. I agree whole heartedly, which is partly why those who go after their own sin in other people fascinate me so much.


  3. Wait a second…I thought that I had the “Most Controversial Blogger” title. I must find a way to recover it.

    Great post by the way. I was going to quote the Desert Fathers as well but the good Fr. Gunter beat me to it.


  4. Tony,

    I think that you and James are typically the ones vying for the title, what with ADJ defecting to Clean Slate Project and all.

    Just trying to stake my claim.


  5. ADJ,

    I’ll consider it a successful day of blogging, then, shall I?

    I’m in the business of making people smile, that’s why I teach. (Oh, wait, that’s crying – teaching is the business of making people cry, oh well)


  6. “Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that those people who seem the most outspoken, even vitriolic, about certain issues tend to have their own person struggle with the issue?”

    Given how much criticism right-wing Christians come in for on Theophiliacs, must I–by the logic of this post–assume that Theophiliacs are closet fascists? LOL.


  7. Not to be (further) quarrelsome, but doesn’t this post fall under the censure of Point 4 in the Roberts Rules post, namely, that the polite poster should not attempt to diagnose? Given that Shawn posted both this and the Roberts Rules, I would make some comments on Shawn’s lack of consistency, but that would fall under the censure of Point 1, namely, the demurral of ad hominem.

    And anyway, we all know that a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds and such. So, can we just dispense with all the pleasantries and get back to bashing heads?


  8. Ah, George P., how I have missed thee – let me count the ways…

    How is life in good ole’ Springtown? Gotta be nice to be close to grandparents – I truly hope everything is well, and I’m happy to see you trolling the blogosphere again. Welcome back!


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