Friday, 6 May 2016

The Right to Know

Do we have a right to know everything? If a public person has an "illicit" relationship do I have an absolute right to know or is the person entitled to privacy? What if the relationship is going through a rough patch and one of the parties is seeking solace elsewhere and then the couple get back together? Would revelation in the media help or hinder the reconciliation?
If the public figure is someone whose moral compass is part of his job; the Archbishop of Canterbury, an Inman, the Chief Rabbi, a Catholic priest then I would argue that yes I have a right to know. But if he or she is a pop star, an actor, a leading businessman then what right do I have to pry into their life?

If the person is involved in making public policy or has influence on it, or a public figure deliberately projects a public image that is at odds with their actual behaviour, then the public has an interest - as in a stake, an investment (actual or metaphorical).

If the person has no influence on public policy then there is definitely no vital public interest in knowing about their private life. If the person is a mere "celebrity" then any claimed "public interest" may well in fact be mere prurience and an interest in tittle-tattle.

I think the David Furnish case qualifies as being in the public interest to know about because he and his partner have had and continue to have an influence on public policy, they promote a lifestyle and project an image of themselves that appears to be at variance with actual behaviour.

Promoting the gagging of reports of misbehaviour of an actor as an affront to free speech and press freedom is a poor example, in my humble opinion.