Get off the cross, we could use the wood.
November 29, 2006 10:57 AM   Subscribe

What's the word for when someone tries to make themselves look charitable, or altruistic, but they are clearly acting out of other interests?

I remember an episode of the Daily Show, where they interviewed a Minuteman who surveyed the US-Canada border to keep illegals from entering the country. Despite the apparent ridiculousness of his action, he still had this false "Do you think I want to be doing this? There are many things I'd rather be doing!" air about him.
It's a trait I've noticed in a lot of people (probably myself included at times), and I'd like to know how to properly refer to it.
posted by Tbola to Writing & Language (29 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Best answer: Faltruism?
posted by interrobang at 11:03 AM on November 29, 2006


disingenuous?
posted by bitdamaged at 11:09 AM on November 29, 2006


Not a single word, but it can be said that such people have ulterior motives. (Note the spelling, please: it's ulterior, not alterior, an all-too-common mistake.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:11 AM on November 29, 2006


People acting this way are often referred to sarcastically as martyrs. You could try "self-proclaimed martyr" if you wanted to be unambiguous.
posted by teleskiving at 11:15 AM on November 29, 2006


Calculating? Heck, I read enough sociobiology that I can't see 'altruism' as anything not involving gains for self.
When it's especially telling, public, or personally annoying, I use Anton LaVey's term 'Good-Guy Badge'.
posted by cobaltnine at 11:15 AM on November 29, 2006


I agree there is no one word that captures it. That said, when people call someone a "martyr" they rarely mean it genuinely. If you wanted to be extra positive you could say a "self-styled martyr."

FWIW, "disingenuous," to me, meanings "pretending not to know something one knows bloody well is true."
posted by argybarg at 11:16 AM on November 29, 2006


Acting the Maggot Bono.
posted by meehawl at 11:22 AM on November 29, 2006


Duplicitous?
posted by loiseau at 11:24 AM on November 29, 2006


I second bitdamaged and loiseau. Those are the two I would use.

You might also use "greedy" or "self serving".
posted by smallerdemon at 11:31 AM on November 29, 2006


Dissimulation. Or, just plain old hypocrisy.
posted by trip and a half at 11:34 AM on November 29, 2006


Best answer: sanctimonious
posted by xod at 11:43 AM on November 29, 2006


duplicitous might apply: deceptive in words or action
posted by allelopath at 11:44 AM on November 29, 2006


Politician? Otherwise I would go for disingenuous or ulterior motives.
posted by baggers at 11:46 AM on November 29, 2006


oops, sorry loiseau, didn't mean to steal your thunder
posted by allelopath at 11:47 AM on November 29, 2006


Acting out of noblesse oblige? Although, I'm not sure that necessarily has overtly negative connotations.
posted by penchant at 11:56 AM on November 29, 2006


self serving.

noblesse oblige is not ignoble... it is the responsibility nobility has to take care of the less fortunet.
posted by ewkpates at 12:01 PM on November 29, 2006


If I may carry the header to its obvious conclusion, Pharisees and hypocrites.
posted by ilsa at 12:09 PM on November 29, 2006


Martyr complex.
posted by russilwvong at 12:35 PM on November 29, 2006


Bad faith?^
posted by cowbellemoo at 1:00 PM on November 29, 2006


"False charity".

Disingenuity and duplicity don't really fit.
posted by solid-one-love at 2:30 PM on November 29, 2006


Best answer: You can be duplicitous without exhibiting the behavior described. You could, for instance, just be lying. Dittio dissimulation and self-serving.

Sanctimonious gets a little closer.
posted by argybarg at 3:32 PM on November 29, 2006


adj.: meretricious
n., metaphor: fa├žadism (ex.)
posted by rob511 at 3:47 PM on November 29, 2006


also pious -- in the sense of "falsely earnest or sincere," not devout.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:23 PM on November 29, 2006


psuedoeleemosynaristic?
posted by Falconetti at 4:52 PM on November 29, 2006


Costanza?

Human fund?
posted by JekPorkins at 5:33 PM on November 29, 2006


meretriciously, duplicitously facetious. Why use one word when you can use an amalgam of confusing jargon! Hurray!!
posted by stratastar at 5:47 PM on November 29, 2006


I think bitdamaged has it right. "Disingenuous" is what you want for the Minuteman guy.
posted by ontic at 6:01 PM on November 29, 2006


Get off the cross, we could use the wood.

I'm so stealing that.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 11:01 PM on November 29, 2006


Phillip Morris? I keep hearing how they spend more money proclaiming that they are doing good deeds than on the good deeds themselves. As in, more money on commercials about how they're telling people not to smoke than on commercials telling people not to smoke. Sheesh.
posted by orangemiles at 3:50 AM on November 30, 2006


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