Scott Tibbs

Contradictions and non-contradictions

By Scott Tibbs, April 30, 2021

I have said in the past that "you cannot have it both ways" regarding a particular controversy. But there are also many times where, as Ben Shapiro is fond of saying, "two things can be true at once." So is it an example of "hypocrisy" to use the first phrase in some cases and the second phrase in others?


Here is the thing: You have to examine each case individually. In some cases, people may be trying to apply different standards on the same issue to achieve a desired outcome. For example, you might excoriate someone for engaging in a certain behavior, while condemning someone else for avoiding that same behavior. Either the behavior is wrong or avoiding the behavior is wrong. You do not get to apply different standards to achieve a desired outcome. You do not get to change your moral standards in order to condemn someone you do not like. That is tribalism, not principle.

Obviously, this also applies to excusing bad behavior of yourself or your allies while also condemning that same behavior on others. We see this too often in politics.

But in other cases, you may have a complicated situation. The police officer who shot Daunte Wright was horrendously incompetent and is justly facing criminal charges. However, it has also been well-established that Wright had a warrant out for his arrest for an armed robbery. Had Wright not been a violent criminal, there would have been no attempt to arrest him and he would be alive today. These facts are not in conflict.

The standard here is simple: Use your discernment. Think clearly. Examine each case on its merits - examining the facts and principles at stake. When someone is clearly trying to say contradictory things, it is appropriate to point out that "you cannot have it both ways." When there is a complicated situation, it is appropriate to recognize that there are facts that do not negate each other: "Two things can be true at once." It is utterly foolish to proclaim that it is "hypocrisy" to apply both phrases to different scenarios when the facts of the case and principles at stake are completely different.

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