Those pesky ‘-y’ words: Hypocrisy, stupidity, decency

have a Facebook friend who routinely calls people out for their hypocrisy. When people make political comments about how horrible certain politicians are, his response often points out that another politician did the same thing and the person posting didn’t seem too upset about that. He insists that if you’re going to call out corruption or dirty politics, you have to do it all the time and not only when it’s politically expedient to your particular political party. 

I must confess, there are times I find myself irritated with his insistence on pointing this out. However, I must also confess that, more often than not, he’s right. 

I have a lot of pet peeves. Poor spelling, subject-verb disagreement, people singing the wrong lyrics to songs or, worse, people making up lyrics to songs as a form of humor, improper loading of the dishwasher. I could go on. 

But my number one pet peeve, by far, is hypocrisy. 

We’re all hypocrites at times, myself included, some of us more so than others. This hypocrisy affliction is nowhere more pronounced than in the realm of politics. 

Not only do many of us turn a blind eye to infractions of members of our own party but insist on consequences when the same behavior is exhibited by someone else, but we routinely support policies and legislation that stand in stark opposition to what we say we support. On the people side, it’s hypocritical to take offense to anything consenting adults may do between themselves but then shrug off the president of the United States bragging about grabbing women without their consent. 

It would also be hypocritical of me to hold Trump accountable for these offenses but give former President Clinton a pass for his sexually predatory behavior. My Facebook friend has made this point numerous times in posts and has emphasized Hillary Clinton’s role in downplaying her husband’s behavior. He’s right, yet again. Just to be clear, I detest the current president, but I also wasn’t a Hillary fan. To quote my Dad, both parties in our most recent presidential election were “scraping the bottom of the barrel” with their candidates, but that unfortunate fact is not the point of this column. 

On the policy front, there is also abundant hypocrisy. Take the federal government, for example. Many of my fellow Wyomingites hate the big bad federal government and rant about federal overreach, except of course when that overreach is advancing a cause they support.

In grad school, we referred to this concept as “fair-weather federalism.” The federal government should stay out of our lives because we’re entitled to individual liberty, unless of course the federal government is regulating abortion or telling people whom they can or cannot marry, etc. 

On the flip side, the government should absolutely regulate pollution, environmental hazards and more but should definitely stay out of decisions about marriage and abortion. 

Some of these stances aren’t necessarily hypocrisy but are based on genuine differences of opinion about the proper role of government in society at large. Oftentimes, however, they are most definitely hypocritical. 

A couple of bills working their way through the Wyoming Legislature are prime examples of hypocrisy. House bill 183 and Senate file 75, the “repeal gun-free zones” bills, would not only allow people to concealed carry at government meetings, in public schools and colleges, at sporting events and more, but would prohibit local governments from establishing their own laws on the concealed carry of firearms. Thankfully, the Senate file died in committee on Wednesday; however, the House bill lives on and has yet to be assigned to a committee.

It seems we hear endlessly from many conservatives that local control is best. When it comes to public lands, education, healthcare and more, the government closest to the people knows best how to legislate for those people. Except, of course, if that local government wants to set any limits at all on the ability of people to carry firearms wherever and whenever they desire. In that case, local government apparently is not best. 

Apparently it also makes perfect sense to promote legislation that would require every school district in the state to develop detailed school safety plans and conduct active shooter drills, to provide local school districts with the authority to develop rules to allow employees to carry firearms at work, to have schools districts spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on investments in restricted access to schools and safety systems, but simultaneously promote a bill that would allow anyone with a Wyoming concealed carry permit, which is relatively easy to get, to carry a gun into a school. 

Not only is that hypocrisy, it’s downright stupidity. 

There are abundant statistics available about the consequences of having firearms readily available in the heat of a moment. Easy access to firearms is one of the factors involved in Wyoming’s horrifically high suicide success rate and is also a factor in domestic violence incidents. 

As part of my job I regularly attend public meetings. Frequently these are routine meetings where nothing particularly exciting occurs. Sometimes, however, these meetings get very heated and tempers flare. Local governing bodies should have the authority to limit firearms at these meetings to promote public safety for everyone. 

And the notion that potentially anyone could legally be carrying a firearm into a public school, with government-mandated compulsory attendance? Why should I be forced to send my children to a school, where they’re supposed to be safe from harm, knowing district administration can do absolutely nothing to prevent people from taking guns into that school? 

I know about now some people are probably screaming to themselves, or screaming out loud, about the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment does not state people have the right to carry firearms anywhere and everywhere. If it did there could also be no limit on the ability to carry them into courtrooms or jails, which are the few places the bills introduced in the Wyoming Legislature would still deem “gun-free zones.” 

Given my previous comment about statistics on gun violence, I’m certain there are also people reading this who question those statistics. Unfortunately, it has become common practice in our society to dismiss as “fake” anything that challenges us. 

Not only has the label of “fake news” been twisted to refer to any news stories we don’t like instead of referencing actual fake news concocted by those aiming to use our inclination to believe it to spread misinformation and damage our democracy, but we now have started dismissing scientific studies and evidence that don’t corroborate our beliefs and even dismissing math when the statistics don’t reflect what we want them to. It is true that statistics can be manipulated and used disingenuously, but that doesn’t mean a statistic is false just because we don’t like it, and the statistics about the consequences of easy and immediate access to firearms are readily available and very telling. 

It is deeply disappointing to see that so many Wyoming legislators have signed on as co-sponsors of these bills, including local Representatives Piiparinen and Eyre, and that Governor Gordon has indicated he would sign it. I can only hope lawmakers really consider the potential negative consequences of these bills and give serious thought to how a person can simultaneously advocate for yet prohibit local control. 

There’s a perception among some who advocate for extremely narrow or no restrictions on the ability to carry guns that “an armed society is a polite society.” I assume that’s the notion behind these foolhardy bills. I feel compelled to point out that if a person is only polite because he or she is afraid of being shot, then that person isn’t really a very decent person to begin with. Decency forced at the barrel of a gun is absolute hypocrisy.


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