Big Brother, others keeping tabs on our private lives
By Linda McDaniel-Hale Point Taken September 21, 2012 12:14PM
Updated: October 24, 2012 6:20AM
When my high school English teacher, sophomore year, assigned our class to read George Orwell’s “1984,” till this day I have never forgotten the larger-than-life Big Brother figure that was watching over the novel’s other characters relentlessly.
Published in 1949, Orwell’s book created an imaginary place called Oceania, where its citizens had absolutely no privacy and everyone was monitored by the government’s Big Brother.
As a teenager, I could hardly believe that such a horrible place could exist. Yet in the year 2012, privacy has become an issue needing modern-day attention. As a plain, ordinary Fox Valley resident, I am photographed in retail stores, at the bank and driving down Randall Road. No one cares what I do in my daily life; but unfortunately for some high-profile citizens, that privacy line has definitely been crossed.
When Prince Henry got caught on camera dancing around in the same outfit as in “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” he probably displayed some poor judgment. But nonetheless, what anyone does in private on their own time is really not anyone’s business.
Poor Kate Middleton has had to deal with publication of invasive pictures of her sunbathing at a private villa during a private moment with her husband, Prince William.
In both cases, the photographed parties were not aware that pictures were being taken.
You might say that they are royals and should expect these things. But, frankly, even a royal has some right to privacy — even if the general public thinks otherwise. The palace has won a court battle in France to stop further printing of the photographs of Duchess Kate, in addition requiring that the original photographs be returned to the photographed subject.
Not only have the British royals had their troubles being photographed in compromising situations, but right here on American soil, presidential candidate Mitt Romney was videotaped without his knowledge was at a fundraiser making a statement about his opponent’s voters.
Romney claimed that 47 percent of Americans who are Obama voters “pay no income tax,” “are dependent upon government” and “believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.” Do you think he would have said that if he knew he was being videotaped? The answer to that question is a no-brainer.
This raises the question: Should anyone taking pictures or videotapes need to get the permission of the subject being photographed or taped? Is everyone in the public eye fair game for anyone who comes along with a camera? Does no one have the right to privacy when partying without using good judgment, sunbathing with your mate, or making a controversial statement at a fundraiser?
George Orwell must have had the ability to see into the future. Even though he was 28 years off, his imaginary Big Brother and his minions are truly watching us all.
Linda McDaniel-Hale is a Sleepy Hollow resident.