The IUSB Vision Weblog

The way to crush the middle class is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation. – Vladimir Lenin

Celebrities and Their Privacy

Posted by iusbvision on February 20, 2008

In the wake of the Britney Spears fiasco, officials in Los Angeles are debating what has become known as Britney’s Law, which would create a 20 foot radius around celebrities who are commonly targets of the paparazzi. If this law were passed, it might license certain celebrities for protection and may even require that any profits made from individuals taking pictures within a 20 foot radius be confiscated.

This issue creates a very good debate. While the average citizen enjoys their freedom and a reasonable sense of privacy, celebrities are what they are because of the “spotlight” and the media attention they receive on a daily basis. The argument could be made that if the average citizen had someone following them around, snapping pictures, and camping outside their house, this would be considered stalking. When the paparazzi does it, it is considered a necessary part of the celebrity’s job. One other little thing is the Constitution, we do have freedom of the press in this country.

In these two scenarios, we need to look at the motive behind the “stalker”. If someone is following around a private citizen, the reason is probably not to take a picture to sell and make money. It could possibly be to harm that person or for some other sadistic reason.

When the paparazzi are following a celebrity they are carrying out their job duties. If Americans weren’t so fascinated with the lives of celebrities, then the paparazzi wouldn’t have a job and neither would the celebrities. Once again, the paparazzi are part of the press and we do have freedom of the press in this country.

This brings up some questions, should “certain celebrities” be singled out and have laws specifically designed for them? Who would pay for this “special protection”? Are there laws already in place to protect the residents of this state?

Celebrities do not need “special protection” from the paparazzi. If a celebrity feels that their safety is in jeopardy, they can call the police and request assistance, just like any other individual. If a celebrity doesn’t like the press following them around and taking pictures of them, they should consider a new profession that isn’t in the lime light.

It is not the tax payer’s responsibility to afford special rights to someone because of their celebrity. Celebrities enjoy a wealth that many will never see and they can use some of that personal wealth and hire private security to shield them the flashes of the camera.

This is a very unnecessary law and the public officials debating this issue should find some more important legislation to discuss that will affect their community at large. There are ample laws already on the books to deal with the media who cross the line between reporting and violating a celebrity’s rights. Let’s just use the laws we already have and not worry about giving celebrities special rights.

Larry Browning

4 Responses to “Celebrities and Their Privacy”

  1. Doug Zook said

    Great article Larry. You have a great way of thinking. I really enjoyed your article.

  2. Chuck Norton said

    Hi Larry – I was considering writing about this myself. However I disagree with your conclusion.

    As you may know I have fought and successfully defeated the IUSB administration in several attempts to violate the First Amendment rights of students. I have demonstrated my commitment to the First Amendment.

    With that said – we all know that your rights end when you step on the rights of someone else. I have seen video of Britney being stopped in traffic on a highway and paparazzi come running out of their cars on foot to run up to and in front of her car while other cars zing by in the neighboring lanes. I have seen them put the cameras inches in front of her face so she cant see where she walks and she is holding kids. She can’t even do something as simple as go grocery shopping or drive somewhere without people on foot or on motorbikes practically diving next to and in front of her car.

    It is also no secret that Britney’s mental health has no began to suffer and the added stress endangers her health.

    The paparazzi do indeed put people and their children and others in danger with this behavior. While the First Amendment protects the content of speech the courts have repeatedly ruled that regulating the time place and manner of that speech for reasons of order and safety are legit.

    I do not want to see Britney’s obituary to finally get something done about this.

  3. Jarrod Brigham said

    The AP has already written her obituary.

  4. Larry Browning said

    I understand your argument. But it sounds like the paparazzi are putting their own lives at more risk than they are Britney’s. If they are running up to her car, I assume she is in it and the cars zinging by would put the papparazzi in more danger than Britney. As for them snapping pictures of her, with her kids in hand, we all know that she doesn’t have to worry about that anymore, since she can’t get herself together and work with the people and professionals that are trying to help her get her kids back. As for the paparazzi speeding, cutting her off, etc. These are all traffic violations, Britney or her associates can contact the appropriate law enforcement agency and they can deal with these traffic violations. I personally have no sympathy for Britney’s currect mental health status. She has brought everything on herself. With my many years of experience working with families and children in the criminal justice system, I have seen individuals with far worse problems than Britney and far less means and support, overcome great obstacles. Overall, I would just say I don’t believe we need a special law for this behavior. Most of the things that you mentioned that the paparazzi are doing are currently against the law, jaywalking, speeding, reckless driving, etc. I’m not a fan of reinventing the wheel when we already have a good wheel in place. I just feel their are more important things in Hollywood to worry about than, Britney Spears..

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