Privacy campaigners: Shut up and put your knob away

Talking of freedom of speech (see below), we are living in significant times.

You’re probably aware of the current superinjunction fiasco – ie folks on Twitter ‘outing’ celebrities who’ve taken out injunctions to prevent the media identifying them or writing about their marital affairs.

What you may have missed, unless you work in the media, is today’s story about Max Mosley at the European Court of Human Rights. In a nutshell: Max (who won £60k in damages from a UK tabloid for violating his privacy when it wrote about his S&M orgy with prostitutes) tried to get the ECHR to force UK newspapers to notify, in advance, anybody about whose ‘private life’ they propose to write.

Luckily, he failed – for now.

There is something rotten at the heart of both these situations. I don’t mean the UK’s Human Rights Act (the well-meaning, but flawed legislation that governs litigation in both), but something more profoundly mistaken: the principle (enshrined in judges’ recent interpretations of that Act) that a person’s sex life – no matter who and what it involves – is private. In particular, the now established legal assumption that marital affairs are a private matter.

Guess what? They’re not.

Marriage is a public, legal contract. One of its provisions is a contract of fidelity (unless both parties specifically and publicly contract out of that). If you breach that condition, you are breaching the terms of a public contract.

If you’re found out (or if your lover wants to tell the world), you can’t cover it up as ‘private’. Sure, discovery will cause damage – to your marriage (presumably), to your children, to your reputation and your wider family.

But here’s the thing: it’s public, because you breached a public declaration of commitment to another person. You have no right to privacy. Cheating spouses, once exposed, will be discussed and will be publicly disapproved. Quite right, too: the whole point of a public contract is to invite the public to hold you to its terms by the implicit threat of gossip and disapproval if you breach them.

In short, you blew it – and the damage caused is entirely your fault. Not the media’s, not your family’s, not the law’s. You have no right to shut that particular stable door once the horse has bolted.

There was ever, is now and always will be only one way to avoid alienating your spouse, hurting your children and destroying your family: Keep it in your fucking trousers.

If you can’t, and get caught, take it like a man and stop snivelling about your right to privacy. You forfeited that right when you got your knob out.

10 Responses to “Privacy campaigners: Shut up and put your knob away”

  1. Kay @ Kays Cakes Says:

    Oh wow, I have just been ranting on about exactly the same thing, I’m sure that we’re not the only ones either.
    Extremely well said!!!

  2. Emma Says:

    You are totally my guru

  3. Emma Says:

    Also, Max’s role models for marriage (serial womaniser father Oswald, who was leader of the British Union of Fascists and incarcerated for most of Max’s early years) are not too impressive but that is no excuse, frankly. The John Snow interview on tonight’s C4 New was a bit too matey for my liking though. Particulary when you consider that John was good friends with the estranged sister of Max’s Mum Diana, Jessica Mitford, a staunch human rights activist and fully paid up member of the Communist Party. Grow a pair, John!

  4. Jaette Says:

    Hm… I’ve never really thought about this much before. Never needed to do so. But as I reflect on your words, I’m not sure I see it as so cut and dry. Is marriage a public contract? Or just a legal contract to which the public has access much like any other contract? Does this vary by national law? Regardless, it seems a contract that can be broken for a multitude of grievances. Is there a duty to report snoring? Or only the titillating?

    Perhaps more importantly, does the public belong in our bedrooms? Aside from those who choose to invite strangers in to play, I’m not sure the public should expect to be involved in our sex lives. I don’t necessarily agree with celebrities, or anyone for that matter, attempting to foist the consequences of their decisions off onto others. That said, this right to know and report sounds similar to the old argument that people have the right out homosexual individuals and shame them into “acceptable behavior” similar to the argument that perpetrators should expect the shame of adultery.

    I guess I have misgivings about both the absolute privacy argument as well as the right to report argument. Taking anything to extremes often produces unappealing results, ss is possibility the case for most things in life. Except for ice cream. Ice cream is always appealing!

  5. Soilman Says:

    Good points all, Jaette, and ones that our Human Rights Act attempts (however badly) to address.

    I’m with you on the details of our sex lives being private. I see no earthly reason why the public should have any right to know about what anyone else does in the bedroom (however entertaining it may be to read about).

    My issue is with the very narrow point about marital infidelity (not the sexual details of it). I cannot see how it can be right and desirable (or practicable, as the Twitter fiasco is demonstrating) to afford cheating spouses the right to hide their indiscretions. Holding married people to public account for their infidelities is surely one of the founding principles and raisons d’être of marriage?

  6. Ben Says:

    I approve of the past couple of ranty posts.

    Less Potato talk, more madman like rambling.

  7. Freelance Unbound Says:

    Actually, my sources say it was a spanking party…

  8. carrie Says:

    love it – yours are the best written pieces of angry yet sensible rants ever 🙂

  9. JerryC Says:

    Dear Marquis de Soil,

    Over here in the United Stasis, where the sexually jammed-up, flesh peddling enterprise of 1000 marketing messages a day, relentlessly blights our minds and loins, we’ve grown accustomed to our socio-celebrity politicians and their oral proclivities, both in or on the sheets, be they tabloid or king.

    Because of your country’s generous court finding you may want to prepare yourself for the onslaught of sleaze bags seeking to profit from their own personalized brand of prurient behavior; a short get-to-know-the-players list is referenced below:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_federal_political_sex_scandals_in_the_United_States

    Please welcome our patriot perverts with open arms (and zippers) so that we, the demure American citizenry that can actually cope and appreciate the finer points of mid-18th century French pornographic literature, may return to pondering the wonders of vegetable cultivation without our news media constantly ejaculating sordid tales of adultery and children born from wedlock.

  10. Jane Says:

    well said!

    if you are not prepared to have your dirty washing aired in public then keep yourself squeaky clean or suffer the consequences!