Thursday, June 12, 2008

Decency and Privacy

So you might have heard about this judge in LA that was hosting a porn website or whatever.  Totally wrong.  Well, apparently that's totally wrong -- this was the forth or fifth story about this in my blog roll this evening, and the only one which takes a good clear look at what's going on.


B. E. Busby said...

As opposed to this guy -- 4 years and well done:

Darren said...

Bourbon in the bottom drawer I can understand, but this? (SFW)

B. E. Busby said...

Let me channel for Randy Jackson for a second:

"Yo, dog, check it out."

First I'll admit to a (I think) reasoned bias against Larry Lessig, who seems to argue law from the "shoulda, woulda, coulda" with a dose of "it would be (nice|fair|more just) if..." standpoint. His utter failure in understanding or substantially changing (on his own part none... if you count proselytizing, maybe some) 17 USC.

So, the substance of the majority of the claims against the good judge are accurate, he had pornographic but not illegal photographs on his site (although the horny donkey one resulted in one article tying the judge's photos with his presiding in a bestiality photo case... clearly bogus). He stores privately cached, legal pornographic images in a place not normally publicly available.

Yes, someone hacked his web server in order to discredit the judge.

What does it all mean? Like any public figure, the judge is (fairly or unfairly) subject to greater scrutiny and a higher moral values test than your average citizen. Witness Elliot Spitzer's fall from grace for what would be a minor issue. Unlike Lessig, I'm not so much cheesed that hacking revealed a seamy side to the judge, but that people created bogus (e.g., bestiality) claims to go with the revelations. News is one thing, piling on with extrapolated data is best left to Fox "News."

Christie said...

"Yo, it wasn't good tonight for me. But, it was awright. You did your thing, man."

--You said to channel Randy Jackson...

Darren said...

Well, if you don't like Lessig, try Volokh

No raging hippie is he.

I'm not sure that judges fall into the category of "public figures subject to greater scrutiny". Judge Kozinski is appointed not elected, he doesn't make his living "before the public" like an actor or newsman. He is a public servant, surely, but hardly a public figure.

I take particular issue with this idea that public figures are subject to higher moral values tests than your average citizen -- not conceding the Judge is such a public figure. Public figures are just that: public, they don't presume to be of higher moral character than anybody else, and you'll find few who think they are actually of higher moral character.

And Bruce, you are arguing here that people who are in the public spotlight are, solely by their nature as public figures, subject to "higher moral values tests", but you have often classified large segments of that group as scurrilous fools, -- however justified -- almost solely by their membership in said group. (I'm talking about politicians now.) How do you reconcile that?

What it seems to me is that "higher moral values test" is just how we our (as a society) excuse intrusions into the private lives of others. (That, sadly, includes Angelina Jolie.)

We should recognize (if my sister is reading this she's rolling her eyes at that phrase) what this Judge Kozinski charade is: gossip. Exaggerated, sensational, slightly dirty gossip with a grain of truth, but gossip none-the-less.

As RJ would say "I dunno dude, I wasn't feeling it."

B. E. Busby said...

OK, let's start here:

"'he doesn't make his living, (quote)before the public(enquote) like an actor or newsman.'"

Worse -- he makes his living at the public trough, like any politician or other public servant. Actors and newspeople serve at the public's pleasure. Judges are arguably worse off since they are paid by the public at large, entrusted to blandly and without bias "judge" (that is to say, as your spouse will learn the hard way in times to come, judges are supposed to represent the _law_; the _law_ is merely an attempt to codify _justice_; the two are not always congruent).

And yes, the Volokh Conspiracy is one of those sources I deeply respect, and they say the same thing -- "the judge's personal laundry was publicized" and "would you like it if your laundry were publicized?"

Answer, no. And I hope my laundry is never so publicized. I still think Lessig is a clueless blowhard and I don't relish Judge Kozinski his publicity, positive or negative. Still, it is what it is and what it is, sadly, is sensational by today's Twittered and YouTubed standards. Even once the inaccuracies are washed away, the truth is sufficiently sensational to create one of those fifteen minutes of fame you pray you DON'T get before you die.

Unlike, say, Princess Di, there's no causative link between the nosy
media and the facts, just inconvenient and non-actionable facts. Honestly, I was done after clucking me teeth and saying, "poor dim sod."

Demonizing his stalker doesn't change the picture; in this case the stalker was merely paparazizing (verb test?) extant sensational but legal behaviour. This is a "nobody wins, everybody loses" picture... something that Volokh gets and laments and which Lessig vaguely (as is his wont) attempts to demonize as a distraction to an unpleasant fact pattern.

The very term, "public figure" begets the mental image of the statue in the park. You'll notice if the pigeons have chosen a particular figure for attention.

Darren said...

Nothing accepted in this thread without a Randy Jackson quote. Please provide one for your last post, er, post-haste!

B. E. Busby said...

Gomen, kudasai, Sensei.

Please preface the essay, supra, with:

"Oh man, listen dude"