When anybody other than a monk needs to tell you he’s no monk, be wary. Same with choir boys.

You know somebody’s in trouble when their mea culpa is, “I never claimed to be a choir boy.” Not to disparage choir boys or choir girls; to sing in a children’s or an adult choir is an honorable calling. If more citizens joined a choir, they’d learn about working together in groups, submitting one’s ego to the direction of a conductor and learning inspiring music to carry one through the hard times of life. I feel sorry for anybody who has never sung in a choir or musical group.

But those who flippantly brag they’re not a choir boy aren’t talking about tenors and altos and learning how to harmonize. Those who claim never to have been choir boys are usually people none of us would ever confused for choir boys anyway.

The people who disavow having sung in a choir are braggarts of the worst kind. They are announcing to the world, “I’m a scoundrel of sorts; you probably knew I was a scoundrel of sorts and you shouldn’t be surprised that I prefer to sing bawdy songs off key, maybe juiced by drugs, alcohol or sex.”

In other words, the “choir boy” defense is actually a tactic for going on the offensive. It’s a way of saying, “If you want a goody-two-shoes, go find a church choir. As for me, I’m prone to live ethically on the shady side, and have never pretended to be otherwise.” That’s called making virtue out of vice.

U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., is the latest in a long line of people who feel a need to explain to the world that they are not morally straight or pure. Gaetz, however, chose not to impugn choir boys. Instead, he defended himself thusly: “I’m not a monk.”

And why, exactly did the Florida Panhandle representative need to tell us he’s never applied for monastic orders, followed the direction of an abbot, chanted the psalms at 3 a.m. in the choir loft or sought God in silence? Why would Mr. Gaetz, or anybody for that matter, (plenty of Democrats have used these same stale justifications) proclaim what they are not?

According to news reports, Rep. Gaetz is the subject of a federal investigation somehow involving sex with underage girls. Making the investigation more credible is that the U.S. Department of Justice initiated it while President Trump was in power and with his knowledge.

Gaetz has not been charged with anything and vociferously claims he is innocent while adding the exculpatory “I’m no monk.” Legal action may never take place because Gaetz is not even charged with anything at this point. But the “monk defense” is a red flag for me, the hollow words of a person usually more guilty than he/she is willing to admit.

The funny thing is that “real” monks would probably be the first to lament that on many days they, too, fail in their monastic aspirations. But such an admission would be one of shame and contrition rather than a taunting effort at self-justification.

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Contact Creede Hinshaw at hinnie@cox.net.

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