Why We Wrote This

The assault allegations against the former New York attorney general disquieted many Democrats – as did reports that the women were urged not to reveal the abuse because it could hurt liberals’ goals. The alleged violence and the reaction to it highlight a broader ethical dissonance in American society.

Hypocrisy-laced scandal, of course, belongs to no particular party. But the case of former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who resigned this week after four women accused him of assault, has given insight into a growing recognition of the damage that hypocrisy can inflict, in part because it uses other people’s humanity and trust as weapons against them. Previously, Mr. Schneiderman had fashioned himself as a champion of the #MeToo movement and lashed out in speeches at the immorality of men using their power to subjugate and control women. “It’s an emperor’s-new-clothes moment,” says Ruth Grant, author of “Hypocrisy and Integrity.” It isn’t just the allegations of violent acts themselves that shock the public conscience, but the dishonest signaling that accompanies them, says Jillian Jordan, who studies the origins of human morality at Yale University. “When people find out that Eric Schneiderman privately is acting completely inconsistently with the public image he’s created, they think ‘OK, one, the thing that you did is bad, but, also, your public advocacy was deceptive and misleading and earned you a false reputation,’ ” says Dr. Jordan. “We don’t like that. We think it’s unfair.”

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