Casting the First Stone: A Look at Hypocrisy
- Saturday, May 17, 2003
Bill Bennett is a hypocrite. Let’s throw a party and celebrate. Mr. Morality is human!
After Bennett, the conservative family values advocate, admitted recently he has a gambling problem, you would have thought his critics were celebrating Christmas.
"Sinners have long cherished the fantasy that William Bennett, the virtue magnate, might be among our number. The news ... that Bennett’s $50,000 sermons and bestselling moral instruction manuals have financed a multimillion-dollar gambling habit — has lit a lamp of happiness in even the darkest hearts," wrote columnist Michael Kinsley.
A lamp of happiness? For someone’s shortcomings?
Something is seriously wrong when we find joy in the weaknesses of others.
Bill Bennett’s gambling problem, by the way, shouldn’t be applauded. It shouldn’t be defended (as his conservative allies tend to do).
Even so, there is no place for rejoicing in another’s weaknesses.
Kinsley’s comments shouldn’t surprise us. Within all of us, there is something that celebrates when a good man does something bad. Maybe not as outwardly as Kinsley, but the thought that sometimes crosses our mind when a righteous man, or anybody for that matter, shows a weakness is "nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah."
What a sick pleasure.
It’s easy to forget that beautiful text they always read at weddings. "Love is patient, love is kind . . ."
Don’t stop there, though. Go on. "Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with truth."
The verse reminds me of the controversy at The New York Times, where young reporter Jayson Blair reportedly plagiarized over and over during his career there.
Blair and I went to nearby high schools. We were both in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and we both worked on our schools’ newspapers.
I didn’t know him well, but I remember he was enthusiastic about his faith, eager about his journalistic endeavors.
Maybe I even admired him a little.
So when I heard last week about the scandal he is involved in, I was surprised. And saddened. How could this promising young reporter do something so against what we stand for in journalism?
It would be easy to cast stones now. What he did was wrong. But it’s also tragic when someone falls.
What, then, should our response be when a man falls into immorality?
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