Category Archives: Privacy Issues

Alienation of Affection Law Could Help Tiger Woods’ Wife

I understand that the list is now at 14 distinct dalliances by Tiger Woods, and the count is likely to grow.  One of the reasons the legal types are interested in this situation is the precedent for “alienation of affection” suits, which can be filed when an “outsider” interferes in a marriage.  These suits are allowed in seven states:  Hawaii, Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Dakota and Utah.  Why these suits are disallowed in all the other states is a curiosity.  Perhaps lawmakers in those states were being pre-emptively self-protective.  Who knows?

However, it doesn’t matter that Woods lives in Florida, a state where alienation of affections suits aren’t allowed.  If any of Woods’ professed affairs took place in an alienation of affection state, Mrs. Tiger Woods could sue.  According to my research, the suits rarely make it to trial – usually the threat of such an embarrassing lawsuit is enough to have it end up in an out-of-court financial settlement.

On my radio program, when I discuss with the “wronged” spouse their pain and desire to get revenge with the “other woman or man,” I remind them that it is their spouse who breached vows.  The other individual was just the means to that sad end.  When people don’t wish to leave their marriages, they often focus their rage on that other person to protect their spouse from their rage.  However, I believe it ought to be common understanding that the vows include a warning to others:  “let no man turn asunder” means that no one should interfere with the married couple’s intimacy.  All society has really taken that vow.  Therefore, I believe it is fair that there be some consequence, and perhaps compensation, for the hurt caused.

I think all states should allow such lawsuits, as they respect the sanctity of marriage.

Tiger Woods

My comments today are short and to the point.

With respect to Tiger Woods:

He is the best golfer ever.

He is a philandering spouse of major proportions.

Should that matter?

It was posited to me that what a celebrity does outside of his or her “famous” activity should not matter to anyone.

I thought about that for about an hour, and then decided this:

That statement is correct, unless that celebrity makes hay (or money) on the issue of TRUST, which Tiger Woods does by using his name and image as a “nice guy” to sell products.  He is untrustworthy…plain and simple, and therefore, should not be representing anything or anyone, because his word means nothing.

He is a great golfer.

So what.

He is not a great man/father/husband.

End of commentary.

Using the Web to Get Revenge

In a recent radio interview, I discussed the issue of “webtribution,” a term coined by Elizabeth Bernstein in The Wall Street Journal to describe people who use the Internet to get revenge – i.e., publicly to hurt another human being with whom they are not happy.

The Internet is anonymous, immediate, and gratifying in the moment.  In human history, vengeance is not unfamiliar – people haven’t changed that much.  Their means of delivering pain has evolved from poison, duels, clever rumors, and Machiavellian manipulation to the world wide web.  In some ways, damaging someone’s reputation is akin to murdering them, as their reputation is devastated world-wide and forever, making it difficult for them to function in private relationships as well as in the community and at work.

To quote The Wall Street Journal:  “Most of us have heard of someone posting naked photos of an ‘ex’ online.  Or writing nasty reviews for a restaurant or book, not because they dislike the product, but because they dislike the person who created it.  Or signing up an acquaintance for [unwanted] e-mail advertising lists.” 

My opinion is that it should be illegal, as it is immoral, to post information or opinion about people without identifying yourself.  Obviously, it is also cowardly.  Google and all other such carriers should not permit anonymity.  That would immediately change the complexion of what is posted, and I don’t think they’d lose business, except from those who use the Internet for evil (terrorists of the international and interpersonal kind). 

Social Network Privacy Not So Private

Facebook and MySpace and other social networking sites have become a means of not only communicating with so-called “friends,” but they also allow for showing off and “going wild” in ways that often come back to bite…even when you think your site is private.

According to the Arizona Daily Star, Ashley Payne, a teacher in an Arizona school said that she was forced to resign after photos and a comment posted on her Facebook page were forwarded to the superintendent of schools in her county.  And she said she had the highest level of privacy controls on her site.  The photos in question showed her in pubs and beer gardens while on summer vacation.  In a comment on her Facebook page, she announced that she was headed to play a game called “Crazy Bitch Bingo.”

According to the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, the bottom line is that “the state code addresses on and off-campus behavior, including inappropriate relationships with students and anything that violates the mores of the community.”

I’m good with that, because teachers have a profound influence on young minds, and being role models seems an obvious obligation.  Not enough teachers think about the consequences of their conduct, not just in terms of their own employment, but in terms of the well-being of the children for whom they are responsible.  Posting extremely inappropriate sexual content and nudity on the web as well as posting photos of teachers yucking it up with booze is a breach of professional conduct.

For teachers, this is obvious.  However, each and every one of you must understand that anybody with knowledge can hack into your private site and edit as well as download and reproduce material elsewhere.  Don’t write or post pictures you would not want to see on the front page of The New York Times, unless, of course, you’re into being infamous.  The word “friend” is simply a term for someone with access to your site.  Don’t imagine that they necessarily have the honor of a real-life friend.  Anything you write or post might be used against you.

Now that this is all said, how about your just inviting real friends over for dinner and meaningful conversation?

Guys Brag About It

You’ve heard me talk about the differences between men and women (beyond the obvious physical ones).  One of my listeners has come smack up against the one where guys talk about their sexual prowess, and she now questions her own position that intimate details are private matters.  I have an answer for her:

Video: Guys Brag About It

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Read transcript here.

Husband Sues Wife for STD

There have been a number of lawsuits over the years concerning the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) during relatively casual sex in relatively casual relationships.  The New York Post published a story about a forty-seven-year old attorney who filed suit against his wife of twenty-two years, charging that her straying had left him with Herpes Simplex virus 2, an STD that caused him to experience “pain, suffering, emotional, mental, psychological and physical injuries and the loss of enjoyment of life.”

I guess he figured that if he had it, and had sex with her, that she’d contract it and then he’d blame it on her during their estrangement so that he could leverage his position with respect to collecting back monies he’d have to give her in a divorce.  I guess that’s it…because she filed papers last month with the results of her blood test which was negative for HSV-2, commonly known as genital herpes, with which the lawyer husband says he’s infected.

Nonetheless, the question still remains: who is responsible for the transmission of an STD in a casual or dating relationship?  Is it the full responsibility of the infected individual to reveal in advance of any sexual activity that they have the communicable disease?  Or, is it the responsibility of each and every individual to not rely on the kindness of strangers?

I believe that anyone who knowingly transmits an STD should be prosecuted criminally and sued civilly.  The severity of the consequences should match the seriousness of the STD.  Some of the STDs are curable with medication; others are simply controlled with medication; some may lead to a higher incidence of cancer; and some are a virtual death sentence.
Considering these factors, people who don’t ask – much less are foolish enough to believe it when they’re told, “No, I don’t have anything,” – who don’t take precautions such as condoms (which aren’t foolproof), who have multiple sexual partners, and who don’t value the monogamous commitment of marriage after both people have complete physicals and blood tests to ensure a “clean slate,” have to take some responsibility onto themselves for their foolishness.

It’s like this: when you let your dog loose off the leash and it runs into the streets to be run over by a speeding car…the car actually killed the dog; but you put the dog in the place where it could happen.  That is shared liability and shared moral obligation.

DO ask, and DO tell; and be truthful.

“Shame” on You

Recently, I came across a newspaper’s Letter to the Editor written by a well-known television personality.  She’d gotten pregnant out-of-wedlock at 17, and had to endure  “…[my] mother’s disappointment, my father’s anger, the priest’s admonishment…[T]he shame and ridicule were more than I could bear.  I was no good.  I had messed up.  I knew it.  My dreams and life were shattered.  Days later, I was married off and sent away.  I said I did not love this man.  I was told: ‘You made your bed; now you must lie in it.’”

She went on to recount the damage to her self-esteem (which she called “life-threatening”) and described being ostracized and condemned as a “bad” girl, “when I had tried hard all my life to do well and make my parents proud.”

While it’s natural to feel compassion for someone who has faced that kind of negative reaction from all the significant adults in her life, it’s important to point out that this situation was not all about her.  And it seems like this author still doesn’t get it.  It is about the innocent, dependent child who finds himself or herself in an unprepared, chaotic, non-committed, immature and fragile situation by being born to a teenager and her male counterpart who are having a sexual relationship and are not prepared for the biological consequences:  a pregnancy.

The concept of “feeling shame” is a very human, emotional/social mechanism.  Its purpose is to deter people from engaging in behaviors that will have negative consequences for them, for others who may be victimized by their behavior, and for the community and society as a whole.   The motivation behind those who rage against “shame” is to dissociate behavior from consequence.  These days, judgment of others is considered a bad thing because it hurts feelings, but having hurt feelings (particularly if they’re the result of actions which cause pain to others) is a good thing; it is part of having a conscience.  Only good people feel guilt.  Only good people suffer from doing ill to others.  It’s human, natural, expected and respected for people to suffer over their wrongdoing.  To complain, however, that wrongdoing should not result in any negative reaction is immature and defensive and contrary to the notion of taking responsibility for how one’s actions impact others.

The author of the letter complains about having to marry the young man – whom she didn’t love – in order to legitimize the baby and take responsibility as a family for the child’s welfare.  Why is that a bad thing?  Why was she having sexual relations with someone for whom she didn’t have the highest regard and wouldn’t have chosen to be the father of her future children?   Is it not in the best interest of the child to have the foundation of a family?

Submitting to responsibility for a dependent child seems like a noble action to me.  Staying mutually committed for the well-being of another human being sounds noble to me.  And many can report that people so inclined grow together and build a strong love and family foundation. These ideals, however, don’t often resonate with people who marry this young.  That is why adoption is often the best solution for the child.

The author of this letter was making the point that the media shouldn’t focus on those young men and women who make this sort of “mistake,” because it hurts their feelings and because these are private issues.  Generally, these are private issues, but when people in the public eye and their families display behaviors which undermine role-modeling obligations or expectations, it should be examined publicly, because impressionable youngsters take their cues from their environment.  When there is no public “shame” for destructive, hurtful or illegal behaviors our children see and emulate, the disasters grow exponentially.

The author writes : “If my pregnancy – my deepest shame – had been broadcast for all to know about, I might have taken my life.”  Clearly, now that the author is a mature woman, she is making her own “shameful” history public and is not suicidal.  Maturity is an important factor in dealing with serious issues, which is precisely why children should not be engaging in activities that endanger the lives of innocent people (as we’ve seen with fetuses being aborted or newborns tossed in dumpsters or toilets).  The young women themselves are at risk when they have a child’s view of how “life is over” just because they’re embarrassed. 

So, instead of railing about how upsetting shame is to a pregnant youngster, it is important to point out to all the other young people out there what dangerous ground they tread when they “walk” as responsible adults, but in reality have the footprints of naïve children.  Taking this story public is a way to warn children away from playing with the “perks” of committed adults when they are in no position to take on the responsibilities of their actions, nor to cope well with the emotional fallout.

We are in an era which judges “judgment” as evil.  It isn’t.  Morals, values, principles and ethics are prophylactics against pain and destruction, and not just somebody’s evil attempt to wrest momentary pleasure from the grip of innocent bystanders.

Privacy Issues for Whom?

I’m amazed at the constipated stupidity of many librarians who believe that privacy issues are more important than national security or the protection of children or the support of laws against child pornography.  Blame it on the extremist positions of the American Library Association, which I have long viewed as a family and values unfriendly bully group.

Case in point:  a recent news report of a librarian who called the police because a fellow was a repeat offender in the library, downloading kiddie porn – a Federal offense.  The first time it happened, the news report tells us that the supervisor told this librarian not to report it.  When she saw him a second time, she called the police.  This heroine was fired.  Why?  Privacy issues!  What??  There is no presumption of privacy in a PUBLIC library – especially when one is breaking a Federal law.

All of which makes it even more weird that Sprint Nextel Corporation has signed up hundreds of thousands of customers for a feature that shows them where their friends are with colored marks on a map viewable on their cellphone screens.  Basically, people would know, all day long, exactly where you are…right down to a restroom or a street corner.

All the folks who use the social-networking websites don’t seem to mind losing their privacy.  So when a librarian protects the children in the library by ridding it of a prospective child molester – who is the bad guy and who is worried about what privacy?