Cameras are all around us, reminds Courier-Post columnist Danny Henley
Understandably, U.S. news in the past week has been dominated by reports of anti-American riots in a number of Middle Eastern countries that resulted in a handful of American deaths, including that of the U.S. ambassador in Libya.
The furor stems from a movie produced in the United States called “Innocence of Muslims,” which reportedly ridicules the Prophet Muhammad. I toyed with the idea of using this space to discuss how avid Muslims will riot when their prophet is denigrated, but good Christians will hardly bat an eye when their savior is regularly ridiculed. Sensing that such prose would only infuriate Muslims, Christians or both, I decided to wade into waters a bit less choppy.
Have you heard about the controversy that has erupted in Great Britain? A firestorm erupted after topless photos of Prince William’s wife Kate - the Duchess of Cambridge – were published in a popular French gossip magazine.
Royal officials claim the blurry photos, which show Britain’s likely future queen clad in only a skimpy bikini bottom, are an invasion of the young couple’s privacy and liken it to the type of paparazzi behavior that contributed to the death of William’s mother, Princess Diana, in a Paris car crash on Aug. 31, 1997.
The images were reportedly taken earlier this month by a photographer using a long lens while the royal couple was visiting a private estate near the French Riviera, which is apparently at the heart of the controversy.
“They were on holiday in a private place and some creepy journalist took pictures,” said one young woman in London in a story by The Associated Press. “They are always going to be in the public eye, but there is a line, and they (the media) crossed that line.”
I won’t dispute there are “creepy journalists.” Sorry if that breaks any illusions that we media types are all straight arrows.
I must admit I’ve been barked at by people for taking their image. My attitude typically is, if you don’t want what you’re doing to be photographed, don’t be doing it in public. And if I’m standing on public property, you’re fair game, even if you’re on private property.
The editor of the magazine dismissed accusations that the pictures invaded the couple’s privacy because Kate was photographed on a terrace that overlooked a public road and was visible from the road.
Does that justify taking the pictures? That’s one of those “moral compass” questions that separates we regular media schmucks from the “creepy journalists.” You would like to think that some degree of sensitivity would come into play as to when a camera should be used and when it shouldn’t. But when you’re talking about the tens of thousands of dollars these images probably brought, profit will win out over professional decency more often than not.
Would I be upset if I were in William’s shoes and photos of my topless wife had been published in a magazine? I’m sure I would.
But the thing of it is, it would never happen. My bride has always had the good sense to go behind closed doors and pulled curtains when it came time to take her clothes off. I don’t care how powerful the photographer’s lens was that took Kate’s topless photos, it couldn’t have shot through a solid wall.
Like it or not, we live in a world where virtually everyone with a cell phone also has a camera at their disposal. Consequently, even if there isn’t a “creepy journalist” around, there is still likely someone nearby willing to snap your picture while you’re picking your nose, scratching your backside, or doing something far more embarrassing.
People are watching with cameras ready. It’s a lesson worth remembering.