Guarding privacy or attempting secrecy?
Side by Side"Privacy," the now ironic name of Tiger Woods' yacht, is pricey. Though several amendments hint at it, our Constitution contains no express definition of privacy as a right. We want "to be the master of our fate," as Edgar A. Guest, early 20th century "People's Poet," wrote in "Private Enterprise." We don't want to follow Mark Twain's road to mastery: "Always do right. This will gratify some people, and astonish the rest."
Published: December 10, 2009
Published: December 10, 2009
Why be astonished at Tiger Woods' failings? We shut our eyes to his temper tantrums, even throwing golf clubs. We stopped our ears to the foul language. Those things were okay for our children to see and hear and idolize. But womanizing! That, we label "moral failure." Sports columnist Tim Dahlberg just revealed Woods' love for Las Vegas. Only the self-deceived believe that "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas."
What Woods wanted more than privacy was secrecy. What Woods wanted was public demigod status while concealing his life behind the scenes. He's not alone.
Unveilings are no longer relegated to gossip magazines, like National Enquirer, or television shows, like Entertainment Tonight. Jerry Springer's audience spawned reality shows, igniting frenzied paparazzi preferring orgies of scandal to shadowy definitions of privacy. And all have become fodder for "respectable" news and talk shows.
Political and religious leaders help sink the "Privacy" ship. From President Bill Clinton's setting national policies alongside closet rendezvous to Rev. Ted Haggard's preaching church doctrine paralleling sexual trysts, our culture is more gratified by wrongdoing than concerned for privacy. Indeed, we see and encourage exposure.
Why be astonished at sympathy poured on Glenn Richardson, Georgia's popular House speaker, upon disclosure of his suicide attempt, followed by indignation when his ex-wife aired his "full-out affair" with a lobbyist while they were still married?
Why be astonished that an AP-MTV poll found "sexting," sharing sexually explicit photos, videos, and chat by cell phone or online, "fairly commonplace among young people"? So far, two girls are known to have committed suicide when sexting was exposed. Research finds brain development incomplete until our early 20's, especially decision-making ability. What's the excuse for the rest of us?
Movie icon Greta Garbo clarified her reclusive nature: "I never said, 'I want to be alone.' I only said, 'I want to be left alone.' There is all the difference." Today's media darlings find a fickle public when secrets unmask.
Israel's King David, great sinner and greater repenter, found that even if he fooled people, he could not escape God: "If I go to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there" (Psalm 139:8 NIV).
G. F. Watts painted hope as a blindfolded woman astride a globe, plucking at a remaining single harp string when all others snapped. Perhaps it is God's mercy to allow Tiger Woods' exposure; in truth, we're all down to one string whether we know it or not, even pajama-clad Hugh Hefner. The only privacy guarantee is having nothing to hide.
Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If you are a seeker of simple truth, we can find it together - side-by-side.
Linda M. Downing is a freelance writer. Contact her at lindadowning.com.