The charge of hypocrisy is one which is levelled at anyone and everyone by anyone and everyone these days, yet seemingly few of its users seem to know the meaning of the word. One such example is Dr P.N. Kirstein in a letter to today’s Gulf News:
The George W. Bush administration should be condemned for its hypocrisy. The regime is demanding that Iran bury its nuclear ambitions but is silent on Israel’s nuclear weapons.
n. pl. hy·poc·ri·sies
1. The practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess; falseness.
2. An act or instance of such falseness.
What Dr Kirstein means is that the George W. Bush administration should be condemned for inconsistency in this instance, not hypocrisy. You’d have thought a doctor, not to mention the letters editor of a national newspaper (who entitled the letter “What a hypocrisy!”) would have known that, wouldn’t you?