Monday, September 29, 2014

Nude Selfies and Victim Blaming

I would like to generally endorse this Volokh piece, written in the context of the recent celebrity nude photo hack, on the appropriate role of advice on self-preservation, a.k.a. "victim blaming", in these and other circumstances.

I also thought the end of this comment at WP was particularly instructive:

The more I think about this recent leak, the more sickened I am. To begin with, it wasn’t just an obvious invasion of privacy, it was an ILLEGAL invasion of privacy. Whatever moral judgments I might have about what people use their phones for, the only purpose served by invading their privacy and blasting it to the entire world is shaming someone. I think we forget so easily that celebrities have all the same emotions and hang ups we do, and then laugh at their expense when they get knocked of the pedestal WE put them on.

That said, I think making him sell the L.A. Clippers was probably for the best.

Of course, virtually nobody outside the Steve-o-sphere raised the issue of the invasion of Sterling's privacy in violation of the law, whereas there are no shortage of celebrity defenders, as this response indicates:

No, the third issue of the bad conduct revealing a serious moral flaw in its victim distinguishes it. There we're not focusing on the blame the man deserved in the situation for not watching his tongue amid the possibility he might be surreptitiously recorded, we're focused on the degree to which his off-the-cuff remarks reflected a very faulty set of philosophical priors on his part.

Actually, I wouldn’t rank Sterling's "faulty philosophical priors" (as the commenter styles it) even as grave a moral violation as those of the nude-selfie-takers. To the extent that these photos were taken for the benefit of men-not-their-husbands -- Upton and Lawrence, for instance, are unmarried -- the takers were guilty of unchastity, mild though it may be. (Upton, who apparently identifies as Christian, especially ought to have behaved better.) In contrast, among Sterling's many, many crimes against reason, ethics, art and wisdom, his "racism" as indicated in the surreptitious recordings was pretty mild; contra the commenter, that it was this that generated such hysterical treatment in official discourse says more about the perversity of our times than it does about Sterling.

But yes, these are, and ought to be, separate issues from the violations of their privacy, to which they are lawfully entitled.

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