Why I’m Wary of Particularly Virtuous Individuals

We all know somebody who comes off as acting far too virtuous. They take every opportunity to talk about their virtuous nature and berate anybody who doesn’t meet their high standards. Politicians are probably the best example of this. Anti-gay activist Republicans who end up being caught in an airport bathroom soliciting sex from other men or politicians who never stop talking about family values who are later caught having an affair are two good examples. But politicians don’t have a monopoly on such hypocrisy:

For a 22-year-old Columbia University student, Joel Davis had built an impressive reputation as an activist for ending sexual violence.

He was the founding executive director of the international organization Youth to End Sexual Violence. He served as a youth ambassador for the United Nations special representative on sexual violence in conflict. He was on the steering committee of the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict, a group of more than 5,000 human rights organizations and experts worldwide.

Davis traveled around the world, worked alongside high-profile activists such as Angelina Jolie, delivered a TED talk and appeared on media panels. In 2015, at age 19, he claimed to have been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

This is the type of resume that makes my eyes narrow and say, “doth protest too much, methinks.” What’s the catch? What personal secret is this guy trying to cover up? Well:

Yet behind this virtuous front, Davis was allegedly committing the same types of crimes he claimed to be fighting, federal prosecutors say. On Tuesday, authorities arrested Davis on charges of attempting to sexually exploit a child, enticing a child to engage in sexual activity and possessing child pornography. If convicted, he could face a long sentence.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that every person who acts extremely virtuous is trying to cover up something. But there is enough correlation for me to see red flags whenever somebody invests so much effort in publicly expressing their virtuousness.