I'm thinking closer to the latter; it's all a show, and I get the impression he's enjoying it far too much to really feel sorry.
Someone once said of Harlan that he was utterly full of compassion for his fellow being, and felt deeply and sincerely for them, but in a way that made him more likely to punch a beggar in the mouth when asked for change rather than giving them something. It sounds about right; it sounds mad, but it seems to make Ellison-world sense. He's furious about cases like Kitty Genovese (And under the circumstances I hope to god I spelled her name right), inequal rights, and the treatment of minorities, and he pours it into his writing, and he's put his money where his mouth is more than once on all these convictions... and yet he can grope a woman and call it childlike without breaking character. And yet he can be described several times as pretty much needing a handler to get him where he's supposed to be, doing what he's obligated to do.