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Australian philosopher, literary critic, and professional writer. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE and HUMANITY ENHANCED.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Crikey on Ministers' private lives

Yay for Crikey!

For those who are not aware of this issue, NSW Minister for Transport, David Campbell, resigned from his position a few days ago after he was exposed by Channel Seven as frequenting an up-market gay bar (to be clear, this is not just a place for a drink; it's a place where gay sex can and does occur in the rooms provided for it).

I'm all for freedom of speech, but the intrusion by large media companies into people's private lives disgusts me. Campbell should not have resigned over this incident, which relates to a purely private matter; he should have been given the full support of his colleagues, including the Premier; and I hope that we now see some more exposes of the private lives of muck-raking journalists. Only the muck-raking ones, though. Their private lives are not matters of public interest, but their hypocrisy may be.

9 comments:

Rupert said...

I was angered by this whole episode.
Channel 7's behaviour was reprehensible.
The premier's failure to support him raises a number of questions regarding what bearing her personal beliefs may have had here and may have in the future.

Robert N Stephenson said...

I was troubled by this, but does go to show the media control the country not the politicians. You do know the Liberal government sat back just hoping there would be support just so it could say the government was morally corrupt.

Rock and hard place -- the resignation may not have been super politically motivated anyway. Stepping away from the post would mean less emotional and personal much racking by the media and opposition.

It is sad when something like this happens. A growing majority of people would say each to their own, but the people with money and influence are the ones that create the auto judgements we are blamed for

Russell Blackford said...

Some extra wordage added to the post to give some background, especially for my overseas readers.

Adele said...

It is curious that Tony Abbott is applauded for honestly saying that he will be dishonest, yet a man is dragged through the mud for his private life.

Humans have an odd sense of right and wrong sometimes...

Ramases said...

I could not agree more Russell.

A bloody disgrace. The thing about this kind of intusion is that there is no way to know how or when it will end. Private moral opinions, or perhaps just the need for shock jock sensationalism, about personal matters become benchmarks that end peoples' careers and make lives hell.

Ramases said...

By the way DM, thanks for posting!

Terrific to have you here!

Those links you post are hilarious!

Ophelia Benson said...

Well said. Congressional rep Barney Frank survived media megaphoning of the fact that his then partner was running a gay brothel out of Frank's apartment (without Frank's knowledge) - he got re-elected anyway, and has been re-elected ever since. If the benighted US (well, Boston, which is a bit different) can manage it, Australia should be able to.

GTChristie said...

I've noticed a related effect here in USA. Despite certain pieties about "live and let live," personal freedom, and "human rights," any public figure (not just politicians) can be shot to hell by a sexual escapade. There are audiences of both the prurient and the puritanical the media can exploit (sex sells, but more to the point, sex sells papers). Feed a little political polarization into it (USAmerica's leading problem) and for a week either the libs or the cons are inherently immoral, while the unfrocked politician twists in the wind. The best way to ruin an otherwise good political career is to uncover some personal detail (sex or infidelity is a clincher) that the opposite faction can exploit to raise a stink. Even decades of service can go down the drain in a single afternoon if a journalist who wrote high-minded prose yesterday about whatever form of discrimination in the workplace today writes "tsk-tsk" about a private act that ordinarily would be none of his/her business.

But even that would not be such a disturbing event, except for the pattern emerging that the politician involved often seems to be controversial already (example, Gov Mark Sanford in South Carolina who tried to turn down federal stimulus money at the height of the recession). It is beginning to look like these things are (at least sometimes) essentially hit jobs.

On a lighter note, we must wonder why, in such an environment, any public figure (especially a pol) would allow him/herself to be caught with a zipper down. What is it about (selective) moral outrage vs self-preservation is it, they don't get?

GTChristie said...

What is it about (selective) moral outrage vs self-preservation they don't get?

[another proofreading failure corrected. sheesh]