I’ll never get tired of that reference
By now most people have heard of the teacher in South Carolina who was fired when a student stole her phone, found private photographs, and distributed them. This led to her losing her job despite having done nothing illegal or even immoral (by any sane standard) and actually being the victim of a crime and possibly workplace harassment. She’s now suing, and some of the comments on the internet are… there are a lot of judgmental morons, to be frank. I’m going to cover some of the ones I saw the most on major news sites from an ethical and philosophical standpoint.
Having the pictures on school property was stupid! She should be fired
They weren’t on school property — they were on her property, her phone. They were not easily accessible to the outside world, this kid went looking for them.
You shouldn’t take pictures if you don’t want them spread!
This is the most shameless victim-shaming I think I’ve ever seen. Any time nude pictures of a person are leaked a throng of low-intelligence bores flood the internet with comments like these. If someone takes these pictures or makes a video, it is none of anyone else’s business. While there is an argument for securing them you still shouldn’t blame a person for it — one person making a risky decision doesn’t excuse poor behavior on the part of others. If someone abuses my social security number, is that excused because, well, I shouldn’t have one if I don’t want it abused? What if I have a picture of it in my phone so that I don’t have to carry the actual physical card?
What if someone goes into a purse and takes a debit card number?
These are easy to argue as being crimes that actually deprive someone of a tangible good — money, good credit. Well, a person’s decency and privacy ought to be protected as well. What if the kid had broken into her house and a safe to get at them? What about peeping toms? Don’t wear a short skirt if you don’t want someone to look up it? Ridiculous.
The legal aspect is something that is being hashed out as the technology grows. This is a growing pain that happens frequently — when home video playback became available suddenly there was an ability to watch hard-core pornography in the privacy of a home that wasn’t previously extant, and state laws struggled to handle that. This is no different from that standpoint.
It’s flat out immoral!
Under what moral code? Even the Bible makes reference to the husband and wife becoming one flesh and having a duty to one another; these pictures were supposedly taken for her husband as a Valentine’s Day present. Christian morals are a major part of the fabric of our mores and ethics in these United States and there’s nothing in there about it being a sin to show yourself to your spouse.
Even if she took them for a random street hobo it’s still not okay to copy or distribute them.
What if they’d been Polaroids in her purse and not hidden in her phone?
In what world is it acceptable to dig through a purse or wallet? I’m hesitant to get into my wife’s purse because I don’t like to disturb someone’s system.
Taking pictures is fine, but don’t take it to work!
Every phone with wireless internet can access near infinite pornography instantly. What if she’d e-mailed them to her husband, then deleted them from the phone but forgot to delete the e-mail? Are we never allowed to have private communications in an e-mail that is attached to a device we take to work?
What if it were just racy texts to her husband, or the aforementioned random street hobo?
At what point is the phone, which can contain a great deal of our personal life, no longer the exclusive property of the person paying for it? How disconnected must it be?
There are more, but I wanted to write my thoughts out to get the thought-worm out of my head. We have a crazy, weird relationship with sex in this country. Supposedly everyone is free to enjoy sex as they please but if anyone ever finds out you do anything it’s supposed to be this embarrassing and shameful thing. I don’t hold to that foolishness. We also have this stupid attitude that privacy isn’t a right, even though I’d bet everything I own that the Founding Fathers would add that clause into the Constitution somewhere if they realized how foolishly we’d overlook what exists:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…”
Your body is your person and the pictures are papers. Now, the kid isn’t the government but punishing her for having her privacy destroyed is stupid — and the school district is a government agency. Your right to be an asshole ends where my rights begin, and all that — and this woman has a right to her phone (property), the pictures on it (papers), and her own body (person). Now, the courts haven’t necessarily embodied this right and the government may not recognize it, but I don’t operate solely based on what the government says — and neither does morality.
It is immoral to violate the privacy of a person without a just cause, and it is immoral to punish a victim. No grey area.
Legally, the kid is in a hot mess now. He’s got felony charges staring him down. I have a great deal of problems with the way felonies work over here, but he knew damn well what he was doing when he did it — and he was a jerk about it, too, when he threatened/bragged to the teacher about it. This all came after the celebrity iCloud scandal, that kid knew how wrong this was. Personally, I’d rather see him get a non-permanent punishment for his mistake (no felony, no time in a prison that permanently psychologically damages him), but I’m not the D.A. and I’m not entirely certain they didn’t throw the book at him to scare him into a plea.
If you’re interested in the line between privacy and the public, and blackmail, you’ll enjoy The Boots Are Red, where Ron has to wade through this sort of issue on a different level.