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Chris Huhne: Should We Gloat, Or Not?

Posted on the 04 February 2013 by Charlescrawford @charlescrawford

Over on Twitter I have been having some 140-character exchanges with erudite writer and thinker Bryan Appleyard @BryanAppleyard on the fascinating subject of how far if at all it is right to 'gloat' about the catastrophic plummet from grace of Chris Huhne.

Bryan seemed to think that this was not in order:

Bryan Appleyard ‏@BryanAppleyard

What's wrong with politics is not the sins of Chris Huhne, it's the gloating and sneering that will ensue. http://tinyurl.com/cd3c5ge

I replied that the likelihood that gloating and sneering will follow misdeeds of this sort in itself sends a market signal to people in public life not to cheat and be caught cheating. Bryan then quoted the Bible at me:

John 8.7: "So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."

Hmm. Curious way of looking at the Huhne problem.

I have talked before on this site about the Prodigal Son parable. The weakness in it from a moral standpoint (it seems to me) is that the 'good' dutiful older son who does not squander his money gets rather dismissed from the story: all the focus is on the wretched son who returns and grovels. The older son is merely invited to celebrate the younger one's return and spiritual rebirth.

Fine. But then what? Is there no virtue to be celebrated other than in a perfunctory way for those who behave well? I know that newspapers need bad news to get sold, but is all attention invariably on those who fall and who then beg for (or even claim to 'deserve') forgiveness? And what of people who try to change their ways but can't? Or of people who claim that they are ready to change their ways but don't really mean it?

Here is my piece at The Commentator that looks at some of these questions from the tragic point of view of someone who toiled in public service for years, never spending a penny more than was justifiable and never telling lies about it. Namely me.It echoes some points that I have made here and elsewhere including in response to the D MacShane disaster.

Conclusion? The sheer brazenness of Huhne's sustained dishonesty puts it into a stellar category, and fully entitles me to feel exultant that this odious man at long last has been revealed as such. 

All praise to Guido for harrying and pushing to keep this case in the public eye and create a momentum for the eventual prosecution: today is a huge victory for the blogosphere, and a powerful example of where Leveson-type 'regulation' for the media simply misses the point.


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