By Anthony L Hall
No doubt it is reprehensible that even a gossip rag would publish pictures of Kate Middleton sunbathing topless at a private residence in the South of France. Alas, reports are that, despite legal injunctions in France, even more salacious photos of her lounging (semi) au naturel
with hubby Prince William are forthcoming.
Anthony L. Hall is a descendant of the Turks & Caicos Islands, international lawyer and political consultant - headquartered in Washington DC - who publishes his own weblog, The iPINIONS Journal, at http://ipjn.com offering commentaries on current events from a Caribbean perspective
Incidentally, royal watchers were opining just days ago that videos of Kate toasting with water instead of wine were the surest sign yet that she is pregnant. Well, if pictures of her anorexic tummy do not, those of her puffing away on a cigarette should disabuse them of their expectations in this respect. But who knew Kate was a smoker … yuck!
Anyway, my disgust over these pictures has nothing to do with who she is. For, unlike so many others venting royal indignation, I would feel the same way if Angelina Jolie or Julia Roberts were the victim of such a prurient and mercenary invasion of privacy.
Granted, part of the bargain of being a celebrity these days (or even a more socially redeeming public figure) is having to suffer intrusions into one’s private space that some of us would find tantamount to an assault. Never mind that, as a society, we facilitate this Faustian bargain by eating up celebrity gossip as if it had replaced bread as the staff of life.
But many celebrities (real and faux
) actually invite these intrusions with their constant social networking and public confessionals. I hear, for example, that sassy, brassy Paris Jackson blithely volunteered to Glamour
last week that she no longer wants to be known as Michael Jackson’s daughter; thereby inviting speculation that she has decided to search for her real (biological) daddy. But I digress….
In fact, what I find most noteworthy about this scandal is that it shows just how little impact the death of Princess Diana has had on the swarming menace to society the paparazzi have become. Remember how much public handwringing and soul searching that tragedy evoked?
Which is why, instead of another orgy of public outrage, I wish governments around the world would enact laws making it a serious
crime to take a picture of any person in a place where that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. And it does not matter if that person is fully nude or fully clothed.
It follows, of course, that it should be an even more serious crime to publish such a picture. I stress the word “serious” because I gather that this is already a crime in France. But reports are that it is punishable only by a fine of a few thousand euro.
This is a patent joke. After all, the paparazzo who shot the titillating pictures of Kate probably spends more than that on one day’s supply of digital storage cards. This means that a simple cost-benefit analysis will compel shooting (and publishing) every time.
No, this kind of commercial exploitation of one’s privacy is a clearly a form of rape and warrants commensurate punishment. This means serious jail time and fines that would surely bankrupt any paparazzo foolish enough to even shoot such a picture in the first place.
What’s more, governments should enact laws broad enough to make it prohibitive for the paparazzi to swarm public spaces -- from sidewalks outside restaurants to arrival areas inside airports -- to shoot the one-thousandth photo of the celebrity du jour
That said, I couldn’t be less interested in the Royal family’s Sisyphean efforts (namely, filing lawsuits) to prevent every Tom, Dick, and Harry (and Sally) from being able to ogle Kate’s tits at the click of a mouse (or the tap of a finger as the case might be) … in perpetuity. This is the future queen of England, after all.
I will only add that I do not think the Queen is the least bit disappointed in Kate for sunbathing topless. Especially since she and William were at what they were royally assured was the very secluded and paparazzi-free private home of the Queen’s own nephew, Viscount Linley.
Rather, I think she will duly appreciate that there but for advancements in the telephoto lens go I. Her Majesty might even think wistfully that she wishes she looked that good when she was 30.