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A tragic comment

By Steven | April 24, 2008

Perhaps Objectivist Lindsay Perigo is within his rights to complain about the “media ghouls'” lack of respect for the dignity of the Mangatepopo canyoning victims’ families and friends.

But he’s drawing a long bow to blame the invasion of privacy (and the subjects’ willingness to succumb to it) on his all-purpose whipping boy, “statism”:

It is testament to how successful statist governments have been over the decades in persuading us that we’re all common property with no claim to dignity.

Come again? Isn’t his usual beef that the state promotes victimhood and mollycoddles us by pandering to touchy-feely dignity interests?

If the media is more intrusive nowadays, and people are more accepting of that intrusion, isn’t it more sensible to lay the blame on a more competitive, profit-driven media? (And Perigo would normally decry the “statist” remedies – through the Broadcasting Standards Authority or the tort of invasion of privacy, for example – set up to enable people to assert and protect their dignity.)

A more nuanced discussion of the media treatment of the tragedy emerged from Media7 this week. Despite occasional media excesses, there’s a good case to be made that the school’s actions in allowing unprecedented access to scenes of grief didn’t do the sort of harm that’s usually used to justify barring the doors to the “media ghouls”. (To be fair to Perigo, he’s not suggesting that the media ought to be barred, but that people should show more self-respect than to welcome them in.)

Topics: Broadcasting Standards Authority, Media ethics, Privacy tort | 37 Comments »

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