Hypocrites!

Now I’m not calling out anyone in particular here, I’m talking about everyone now. Some backstory: I’ve been listening to a CBC Ideas podcast about the idea of democracy and how one might define such a concept. While this is an interesting topic that’s probably worth a separate post, what I want to focus on here is this quote that came up somewhat tangentially to the main discussion:

“I think actually that there are conditions under which hypocrisy is an amazing source of moral advantage. It’s only small children and the sociopathic who say everything they’re thinking at any given moment, the rest of us have learned to play nicely with others.”

These are the words of philosopher Michael Blake (I think, there were two similar-sounding male voices in the conversation). In context he was talking about how Brown v. Board of Education changed the dialogue on race in the US.

If we’re honest with ourselves we must say that we often hold our tongues, or at least we soft-pedal our criticisms. Our language facilitates this, we have words that we can say that sound good but ultimately don’t mean anything – you know them: “compelling” and “unique” come to mind (I know now that someone will probably comment on this post and call it “compelling” and “unique”). If we are called to be honest, how far is this acceptable?