Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should

It’s a phrase most have heard before: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” It implies that, you legally have the option to conduct yourself and your business in a specific way, even if that way is morally dubious.

The latest celebrity “scandal” features the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and his wife Princess Kate. While vacationing at a private residence in France, hundreds of meters from public view, Kate peeled off her bikini top to sunbathe and was photographed by paparazzi. The images were then published in a local tabloid, and have since been published in Ireland and Italy as well.

The photographer used a very powerful telescopic lens to take the images. The duchess was not within reasonable view of the public otherwise.

In the U.S., if you are within view of the public, be in through a house window or in the middle of a shopping center, you are considered to be within public view and are considered fair game for photographers. Celebrities who put themselves within the public light know this quite well, and unless they are behind closed doors and hiding from windows, there is no such thing as privacy for them or their families.

The laws are different in France and the U.K. (moreso in France, actually). In the U.K., photos taken when a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy (personal residence, entering or leaving a doctor’s office) can only be published if there is an overriding sense of public interest. Judges have ruled in a 2004 case that public interest includes revealing criminal ties, authenticating claims or exposing hypocrisy.

This means that in the U.K., the images of Kate sunbathing can’t legally be published without her permission, because there was no criminal behavior, no claims to be verified and no behavior lapses to expose.

In France, where the photos were initially taken and published, there is actually a law distinguishing between an influential figure’s personal and public life. Publishing images of their private lives is explicitly prohibited without the subject’s permission.

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So, by law, those images could not be published in either country legally. The French tabloid, called the Closer, was successfully sued, but the publicity and money earned from the images outweigh the fines they are being forced to pay. This makes it likely that they and other tabloids will continue to break these laws, because ultimately, they aren’t suffering for it.

This brings us back to the point: Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Prince William, heir to the throne, is the older of the deceased Princess Diana’s two sons. Princess Diana was killed in a vehicle accident in France while trying to elude the paparazzi. Alcohol played a factor because the chauffeur was inebriated — but when the accident occurred, instead of assisting the injured passengers, photographers stood there taking photographs. They didn’t try to help the victims, one of which was Princess Diana, who was reportedly still alive at that point. She and two of the other three passengers were later pronounced dead at the scene when emergency responders were finally able to push through the crowd and attempt to aid them.

How do you imagine that made Prince William feel? How do you imagine it made him feel to know that his wife, who has been nothing short of a classy lady, was the victim of the paparazzi as well? Can you imagine the emotional flashbacks it brought on, considering that both occurred in France?

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. They may be celebrities, but the Duke and Duchess are people, first and foremost. When they are in public, they are fair game. If they are found to break a law in private, they are fair game. But when they are enjoying a quiet moment alone, far from public view and on private property, leave them be. Leave all the celebrities alone in such circumstances.
No person should have to suffer humiliation and scandal because other people are greedy or because he or she is famous. Celebrities are not asking for it if they are purposely avoiding the press and public. They are asking for it if they are drunk leaving a New York nightclub and allegedly clip a pedestrian who ended up going to a hospital for his injuries (Lindsey Lohan, anyone?).

Causing someone this much worry and emotional turmoil over something so silly is never okay, even if it is legal (or if you make enough money to get away with it, as is the case in this instance).
Don’t support this kind of media. Don’t buy into false scandals and needless public humiliation. Be better than that.

Because just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.