The hypocrisy of righteous indignation

Hypocrisy is so easy to point out, isn’t it?

Well, except when it’s our own.

Two of the Gospels relate Jesus’ admonishments against hypocrisy: “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?” (Mt. 7:3, Lk. 6:42)

Sisters and brothers, there are two huge logs in our eyes right now.

Kim Davis, embattled Rowan County Clerk, has paid a hefty price in social and mainstream media for abiding by her bigotry against same-sex couples seeking (perfectly legal) marriage licenses. There are many, many pages dedicated to her ongoing quixotic quest to preserve both her position and her conscience, so I won’t go into them here.

Davis’ hypocrisy has been pointed out by many. How can a woman who has had multiple marriages and divorces, committed adultery and conceived children out of wedlock, suddenly choose this as her religious hill to die on?

But in deriding her, judging her by her unbiblical behavior, and even claiming that God doesn’t love her, we are guilty of the same and far worse.

God IS love. He loves the entirety of His creation, whether or not you or I think they deserve it. None of us deserve it! And who are we to play God and condemn her for her actions, whether or not she is guilty of doing the same?

Then we come to Martin Shkreli, a name many of us didn’t recognize before this week.

Shkreli is the CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, which recently acquired the rights and formula for the drug Daraprim. Daraprim is the standard treatment for toxoplasmosis, and is critical for those with compromised immune systems – namely, the pregnant and patients with HIV/AIDS. We know his name because he announced a price hike of over 4,000 percent, from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill. This, of course, would make the treatment expensive for hospitals and practically unaffordable for most patients, even with the best insurance.

Cue (legitimate) public outrage.

This morning, though, I read that Shkreli was doxxed by unknown hackers on Twitter. Doxxing, for the uninitiated, is when a target’s personal information is posted online – usually home addresses and personal phone numbers – with the implicit or explicit purpose of allowing others to harass the target. The (now former Facebook) friend who shared the news story expressed near glee at the situation and encouraged someone to “kick him in the [junk]” using that information.

Doxxing, it should go without saying, can be incredibly dangerous. Game developer Brianna Wu was forced to move out of her home after she was doxxed and faced very real threats of harm from angry (and dare-I-say-it misogynistic) gamers. The same happened to game critic Anita Sarkeesian, and even for beloved celebrity geek Felicia Day when she spoke out against those responsible. But now we’re supposed to be okay with it because Martin Shkreli is a price gouging CEO?

That’s not how any of this works.

Is it appropriate to call someone out on their wrongdoing? Absolutely. Kim Davis should be reminded of the oath of office she took and her obligation to abide by the authority of the state when functioning as its agent. Martin Shkreli should have to justify why on earth such a usurious markup on such a necessary drug is appropriate, and should likewise take responsibility for his unprofessional responses to legitimate criticism.

Bullies are an unfortunate reality. And some of them use their own interpretations of religion or altruism to justify their bad behavior. But we are no better when we use the bullies’ own tactics in an attempt to shame or undermine them. Bad behavior isn’t any less bad when it’s perpetrated by people we agree with. It’s just hypocrisy.

We can – and should – be better.