Monday, December 28

Cheaters, Voyeurs and the Right to Privacy.

The Tiger Woods scandal has raised issues far more serious than infidelity or public leering. Privacy. Woods has shut out the media since his transgressions have been discovered and with good reason. Look at the media frenzy.

In a press release he has asked for privacy stating: "no matter how intense curiosity about public figures can be, there is an important and deep principle at stake which is the right to some simple human measure of privacy . . . Personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn't have to mean public confessions."

He is right. This is none of our business. That hasn’t stopped the continuous public speculation and talk show jokes. Just one more scandal everyone can talk about the next day at work. It may all seem like good fun but let me ask you this: what if everyone was talking about you? What happens to a person when their private life is held up for judgment?

Well he’s a public figure and that goes with the territory you may answer. Aren’t public figures allowed a private life-however disreputable it may be? Woods is famous and rightly so, for being an exceptional golfer. it’s the public and sports media that hemp praise and adoration on him only to scorn him when he doesn’t live up to their unrealistic expectations. His behavior and the reaction to it reveals a great deal about current social attitudes.

Privacy is a rare commodity these days. Sportscaster Bryant Gumbel kept his cancer and treatment a secret. Farrah Fawcett tried to keep her illness secret for the same reason. It’s private. The woman - a nurse at the hospital- revealed the information to a tabloid for a few thousand dollars. Fawcett tried to keep The Enquirer from publishing the story but they did so anyway. Her right to privacy be damned.

There are endless stories of extortion and black mailing famous people with threats of going public with information about their private lives. What I find shocking is the lack of outrage at such revelations. In fact such attempts become stories themselves. The media and public take it all in stride as perfectly acceptable and normal.

It’s not, it’s more than natural curiosity it’s unhealthy obsession with the private details of other peoples lives we are being taught to indulge.

How often does someone’s error in judgment end up on YouTube? It’s automatic for people to pull out their camera or cell phone and shoot whatever is happening. Sometimes as a witness to history, as the protests in Iran and sometimes as voyeurism as in teenagers sending explicit photos of themselves to each other. Since no one is taught the difference people do so without thinking of the consequences.

Tiger Woods knows the difference and now he is suffering the consequences of it- with our voyeuristic help.

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