People Who Live In Glass Houses Shouldn’t Request Privacy

glasshouse

“Please, sir. May I have some….?” If you are a celebrity, you are likely to finish this phrase with the word PRIVACY. More and more celebrities issue statements in times of personal crisis requesting that their privacy be respected. I’m sorry; to what privacy are they referring? Celebrities ask us to keep up, but then, when it suits their purpose, they ask us to back off.

It irks me that public figures ask their fans/followers to give them some space. Apparently they didn’t need any space when they were pocketing our money from movie ticket sales, CD purchases, etc. The thing about being a public figure is, well, your life is PUBLIC. Of course, we all want to know at what restaurant you eat, what you look like without makeup, where you are on vacation and with whom, etc. Why is that? Because you did such a good job of selling yourself to us. If you are tweeting stuff daily about your personal life, what did you expect would happen?

Expect is the key word in this situation. As an attorney, obviously, I tend to analyze things from a legal perspective. The U.S. Supreme Court talked about privacy in the famous case of Katz v. U.S., from which opinion originated the expectation of privacy test. When analyzing Fourth Amendment issues (think search and seizure), the Katz Court stated that the Fourth Amendment prevents people from warrantless searches of places in which they have a subjective expectation of privacy deemed reasonable in public norms. In lay terms, the bottom line is one isn’t prying if there’s no expectation of privacy.privacy

So, let’s apply this test to a real life situation. How about those Kardashians? In case you’ve been living under a rock, this is the clan (Klan?) who are famous for being famous. Apparently the K’s have a subjective expectation of privacy and don’t feel that you and I should have our noses in Khloe’s ex-husband/estranged husband/possibly reunited husband Lamar’s hospital room. [Just an aside, but we wouldn’t even be in this situation if Lamar had kept his nose away from that cocaine at the brothel…] But what about reasonableness of this concern by public norms?

Reasonableness is construed based on a totality of circumstances and on a case by case basis. What’s reasonable for the Kardashians is highly unlikely to be what is reasonable for you and for me given our vastly different circumstances. Case law is clear that there is no expectation of privacy in an open field. If your actions are in plain view for the world to see, then there’s no need to get a warrant to check out what is clearly visible to anyone bothering to look.

Seems to me that the K’s are all in an open field. We see what they are wearing (or more accurately what they are NOT wearing), where they are traveling, with whom they are hobnobbing, etc. Kim’s rear end is splashed across the Internet as is news about what body hair she doesn’t have in places you and I would likely consider private. The K’s reel us in with an incessant stream of tweets, posts, TV shows, etc., but then they attempt to draw a line between their public and private life when it suits them. Um, I think they created the monster in making their whole life public. If you aren’t going to cover your privates, what pray tell is private? You wanted to be celebrities and you got what you asked for. Perhaps your loss of privacy is a cost of your self-created fame. As celebrity consultant Max Clifford noted, “If you use the media, you can’t complain too much when the media uses you.”

No, I am not just bashing the K’s. When celebrity couples break up, it is standard fare for them to issue a statement asking for privacy. Yes, I am referring to you, Gwen Stefani/Gavin Rossdale, Blake Shelton/Miranda Lambert, and Jennifer Garner/Ben Affleck. Blake and Miranda should’ve composed a country song to croon that they need privacy concerning this “very personal matter.” So, I guess it is OK for us to take pictures when they walk the red carpet together and are all smiles, but when things get dicey, we should leave them alone. These celebrities want to tell the public when and how to direct their attention–yeah, those people who have given them fame and fortune. I’ll bet these celebrities will want our attention full on when the next movie or song comes out though.

So, if you are following my train of thought, we can only conclude that those who live in glass houses of their own making have some nerve to ask for privacy when THEY decide it is needed. HOWEVER, that does not mean that I am advocating that we stick our noses in anyway. There’s a question of what we can do (since celebrities don’t have any reasonable expectation of privacy) and what we should do (treat them as we’d like to be treated in similar circumstances).

In its essence, the right of privacy is the right to be let alone. Whether or not celebrities have the right to privacy isn’t the ultimate question. They should not need to ask for privacy. We non-celebrities should do the right thing just because it is the right thing–don’t intrude on situations that we would probably deem very personal if we were going through it ourselves (divorce, medical crisis, etc.) Better yet, let’s just leave some of these celebrities alone period. Come on you 48.4 million Instagram followers of Kim K. Just ignore what KK does totally; then there’s no issue of line drawing.

The End (of Kim?)

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