Sunday, May 15, 2011

On tittle-tattle and privacy laws

From the "legality is not synonymous with morality" files:
Such stories constitute little more than idle gossip and are often embarrassing, even distressing, to their subjects. But so long as such gossip has not been acquired through illegal means, through invasion of privacy in the first sense, and so long as it is not untrue, it should not be a matter for the law. This is not to say that such journalism should be deemed acceptable. It should not. Passing off gossip as news has helped lead, as Polly Toynbee pointed out almost a decade ago, to ‘everyone’s loss of civility’, to the undermining of ‘everyone’s sense of a discreet private space which should stay beyond the brazen megaphone of public exposure’. There is, however, a big difference between that which should be unacceptable and that which should be illegal. Just because something is legal does not make it morally or socially acceptable. Conversely, just because something is morally or socially unacceptable should not make it illegal.
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