Recently in the UK a conservative peer of the House of Lords was caught by the Sun, using an illegally installed hidden camera, snorting cocaine from the breasts of a sex-worker. Notwithstanding the illegality of using a class A drug, the accusation that was levelled against the married Lord was that of “staggering hypocrisy.” He was, after all, head of the Lords standards watchdog, the body responsible for judging peers who misbehave.
On first instance, the Lord is surely a hypocrite. However, we should not have acquired knowledge of his immoral behaviour. After all, whatever one does in the privacy of their own home is really none of our business. But now we know, and we judge. For better or worse, his indiscretions are now a matter of public record, and the public should not be asked to suspend judgement on the grounds of the public vs. private distinction or because of the way the information was procured.
The question then is not whether we have a right to judge, subject to the immoral and illegal ways by which the information was acquired, but rather whether the fact that someone is a hypocrite should immediately generate a negative judgement on our behalf. Can one be praised for being a hypocrite?