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Prig, a uniquely odd accusation

Posted by John T. Reed on

Laura Ingraham called James Comey a prig the other night.
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I got called that eight years ago. I had to look it up. It did not sound like a good thing.
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prig
noun
a self-righteously moralistic person who behaves as if superior to others.
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Moralistic, in turn, means,
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mor·al·is·tic
adjective
overfond of making moral judgements about others' behavior; too ready to moralize.
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It is a uniquely odd accusation.

It seems to have two components:
• believing you are superior to others
• publicizing that fact

1. Since some “others” are immoral, and you should not be, believing you are superior to those who are immoral is merely the accurate situation of a moral person

What is the alternative? To be moral, but somehow still believe you are not superior to those who are immoral? As Tucker Carlson likes to say, “How does that work?”

2. You could keep your morality as secret as possible. Why? I guess to avoid making immoral people feel bad about themselves and/or hate you for reproaching them, if only by the example you set.

3. Seems to me that almost everyone is a prig because they almost all publicly claim to be honest. What corporation, government agency, military service, university, or other non-profit does not have a mission statement with words like “honor” or “honesty” or “integrity” in it? They often carve such words in the walls of their buildings, on monuments, and on rings and crests.

Comey’s FBI stands for Federal Bureau of Investigation. Under him, it was also the Federal Bureau of Insinuation. The FBI also claims the letters stand for fidelity, bravery, and integrity.

Prigs.

4. West Point’s cadet prayer, which I love, says,
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Strengthen and increase our admiration for HOMEST DEALING and CLEAN THINKING, and suffer not our HATRED OF HYPOCRISY AND PRETENCE ever to diminish. Encourage us in our endeavor to LIVE ABOVE THE COMMON LEVEL OF LIFE. Make us to CHOOSE THE HARDER RIGHT RATHER THAN THE EASIER WRONG, and NEVER TO BE CONTENT WITH A HALF TRUTH WHEN THE WHOLE CAN BE WON. Endow us with COURAGE THAT IS BORN OF LOYALTY TO ALL THA IS NOBLE AND WORTHY that scorns to compromise with vice and injustice and knows NO FEAR WHEN TRUTH AND RIGHT ARE IN JEOPARDY. Guard us against flippancy and irreverence in the sacred things of life. Grant us new ties of friendship and new opportunities of service. Kindle our hearts in fellowship with those of a cheerful countenance, and soften our hearts with sympathy for those who sorrow and suffer. Help us to MAINTAIN THE HONOR OF THE CORPS untarnished and unsullied and to SHOW FORTH IN YOUR LIVES the ideals of West Point in doing our duty to Thee and to our Country.

I put the parts that make it a PRIG PRAYER in ALL CAPS.

Note the phrase “live above the common level of life.” Gee, sure sounds like thinking you are superior to others. The prayer is highly publicized and carved into the wall at West Point. The phrase “show forth in our lives” says to make sure others know about your honor.

You get the same sorts of things from the Boy Scouts, Harvard, GM ("GM’s vision is to be the world leader in transportation products and related services.
We will earn our customers’ enthusiasm through continuous improvement driven by the integrity, teamwork, and innovation of GM people.").

Everybody is a prig.

What is more important than priggishness, is the HYPOCRISY of 99% of those who publicize FALSE priggish claims about themselves, most notably Comey in this context.

Pointing out the hypocrisy of vast number priggish, ostentatious pronunciations strikes me as “the Lord’s work” to use a phrase from a world I don’t generally inhabit. I may have no right to hold you to my standards, but I will damned well not let you get away claiming my standards are your standards when you violate them.

Behind closed doors I was often derided to my face as a “Boy Scout” is my adult life. Overdoing the honor stuff was the general thrust of it. Ookay, but how about you take down all the mission statements and mottoes and so forth claiming that you are all Boy Scouts if you are going to give me crap about actually living up to what you go way out of your way to publicly claim are your values? You can’t have your man-of-the-world hypocrisy and deny it, too.

 


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