Do we have a right to privacy? Do we have an obligation to respect the privacy of others? Frequently in life I ponder this particular question, because it is related to a lot of issues and questions that come up. And while it may not always be obvious that privacy is at the heart of what is being debated, all the same it manages to demonstrate that a great deal of things that are considered to be separate are really part of the same overall problems.
Not all of these problems, it must be admitted, are equally serious or consequential. For example, I recently spent about seventeen minutes of my time watching a very vaguely worded discussion by someone in lawtube on what seems to be a tempest in a teapot, where the video maker’s gatekeeping tendencies were triggered by the fear that the behavior of some of her peers who were watching the Depp vs. Heard civil trial would have repercussions for the entire community of lawyer commentators and potentially have an impact on the trial because of what the jury could see. This concern led her to make an ill-advised direct message to a peer based on what appears to have been hearsay, which was then shared and led to some criticism directed her way. Did she have a right to expect her private message to remain private?
Do children have a right to keep things private from their parents, who are, after all, legally responsible for what goes on in the house? When it comes to grooming teachers seeking to promote confidences about deviant behavior that are supposed to hidden from parents, or children who seek to have their own privacy from parents (or grandparents), even to the extent of preparing for violent assaults, or engaging in drug-growing operations in their own bedrooms while seeking to keep them private from parents, the authority of parents over their households is threatened by the behavior of others. To what extent does the gravity of this threat work against the supposed privacy rights of young people?
We have witnessed in the last couple of years a dramatic contradiction between the insistence that people have privacy rights to their own boy when it comes to infanticide but lack privacy rights to their body when it comes to dodgy and experimental jabs. Where does one draw the line between the rights of individuals and the rights that other parties have in the bodies of people and who does one trust to draw those lines in a just manner? These issues come up repeatedly because trust is difficult and a great many people are unworthy of having that trust, just as many people appear to be unworthy of being free to decide matters about their bodies, and both predictably but paradoxically, those who are the least trustworthy in controlling their bodies are the most insistent in possessing that control and in casting off all external restraint. Those who most deserve privacy will demand it the least, and we live in an age where increasing demands for privacy rights and the decline of privacy thanks to corporate and government influence are at odds with each other. It does not bode well.