Thursday, November 19, 2020

Is the governor of California a Liar or a Hypocrite?

Gavin Newsom, who has supported a variety of restrictions in order to slow the spread of Covid, was caught blatantly violating his own rules, attending a dinner with a large number of unrelated people, sitting close together, not wearing masks. He claimed it was outdoors, but that turned out to mean a room that had glass doors to the outside which were closed because the dinner party was a noisy one. He has been suitably apologetic, conceded that it was something he ought not to have done.

There are two possible interpretations of his behavior, depending on whether one regards the primary function of masks as protecting the wearer or protecting everyone else. If it is protecting the wearer, than his behavior is strong evidence that he doesn't believe in the claim on which his rules are based, since he was willing to do without that protection for himself. At least, he doesn't believe in it for men in their late fifties — and there has been no suggestion in the rules he imposed that they only apply to those of us sixty-five and over.

If one believes, perhaps more plausibly, that the primary function is protecting other people, than his behavior is evidence that he is a hypocrite, willing to impose on other people risks that he forbids them from imposing on each other, but not that he does not believe the claim those rules are based on.

A third possibility is that he is merely a snob, someone who believes in his heart, although he would never say, that pandemic diseases only infect his social inferiors.


At 5:35 PM, November 19, 2020, Blogger John Dougan said...

Embrace the healing power of "and".

At 6:05 PM, November 19, 2020, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hypocrite, obviously. Like most humans.

This post provides evidence supporting my theory that media saturation leads to leads everyone to hypercriticism, which of course is sharper towards one's ideological antagonists.

An amusing obsession to post about while the president is quite literally attempting a coup while his party sits on their hands and whistles. (Incompetently, but still.)

Priorities are clear.

At 8:33 PM, November 19, 2020, Blogger blink said...

Well, the behavior is egregious in any case, and Newsome deserves all the vituperation he receives as liar or hypocrite or both.

My real diagnosis is simply elitist, or perhaps human (as "anonymous" says): *I* may be trusted to make appropriate case-by-case decisions whereas *you* cannot be trusted to do so. Therefore, I must set a bright-line blanket rule for all of you who cannot be trusted to decide for yourselves.

At 5:56 AM, November 20, 2020, Anonymous William H. Stoddard said...

Anonymous: It's not much of a "coup" when the actual behavior involves sending lawyers to plead his case in various courts. Most coups involve arresting people, or even shooting them, often with side doses of things like censorship—and anti-Trump statements are so prevalent in both traditional news media and social media that it's utterly implausible that his administration is censoring anyone.

Now if Trump's charges of massively dishonest elections are proved (which at this point I don't rule out), there will be a somewhat stronger case for the Democrats having attempted a coup. And if the Democrats who have been talking about punishing anyone who supported Trump get their way, that will be quite typical post-coup behavior. The way things look on the Democratic side is ugly enough so that I can only suggest that your allegations about Trump are a very good fit to your own phrase about "amusing obsession."

At 6:39 AM, November 20, 2020, Blogger rob said...

'his behavior is strong evidence that he doesn't believe in the claim on which his rules are based'

In situations where a persons actions are in contraction with their stated beliefs I do not think one can conclude they are lying about their beliefs. I strongly believe that drinking too much wine is bad for my health but regularly do it anyway. I do not think I am lying about this belief - its just that the pleasures of alcohol and my human weakness lead me to disregard it in practice.

At 6:46 PM, November 20, 2020, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Imagine a situation where he believes that any individual dinner will impose such a trivially negligible harm that it can be morally disregarded. But, let’s imagine, he also believes that if two-thirds of the population of California engage in this behavior then the aggregate effect will be significantly deleterious. If his belief structure is something along those lines then it seems to me that he might not morally fault any individual for hosting or attending such a dinner, but he might believe that a prohibition against the conduct is necessary to deter very large numbers of people from doing it and creating an aggregate harm. If so, then, just as he would not fault any other individual person morally for engaging in the behavior, he might reasonably believe that his own individual behavior is similarly non-blameworthy, despite his support of a State-wide prohibition of the conduct. I’m no economist—is that a logically cogent answer, attempting to be charitable?

At 8:05 PM, November 20, 2020, Anonymous William H. Stoddard said...

Anonymous: The problem with it is that he isn't just any other individual person. He's Gavin Newsom, head of state of California, and what he does has the potential to influence what large numbers of other people do. Most basically, if you want other people to follow a rule, you have to set the example of following it yourself, rather that being a hypocrite. You have to assume that, as a public figure, you will be witnessed NOT following it, and that will affect other people's conduct. And really, if you want to appear to follow rule X, the surest way to do so is actually to follow X, when it's hard as well as when it's easy, just as the simplest way to keep your story straight is to avoid lying.

At 5:16 AM, November 24, 2020, Anonymous Student of Liberty said...

Fourth option: both, as many can be in such a position...


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