The Ethics of Outing
Time after time in our modern day news cycle, the private information of public figures is released to the public for examination and more often than not, scorn and intense derision from those the world over. Just today, media outlets are weighing in on the purported release of information that suggests former reality TV star Josh Duggar had an account on Ashley Madison. A well known website that encourages people in marriages to cheat to cheat on their significant others.
Now, as with past incidents like this, people will weigh in online. Some will mock the man and some will say that this is a private matter that should not be used as a club to further sully his reputation. In this case and many others, those people are wrong. Sometimes, it’s okay to reveal the discrete details from someones private life, particularly to expose ones hypocrisy.
Here’s a guy who has previously said that his family was the “Epitome of Conservative Values”, worked for a religious right oriented political organization and posted supportive messages online for Chik – Fil – A during their absurd and overblown controversy. And according to data released today, he’s been telling people online that he ‘Wants to have a steamy affair”.
In short, fuck that guy. Perhaps he should remember the phrase, “Those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” or “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. If you want to cheat on your spouse, by all means go ahead, it’s really none of my business, but don’t stick your finger in the faces of others and have the gall to tell them how to live their lives. That’s sick.
Now, on the other side of the coin, there are situations where it is not appropriate to reveal details of someones personal life that would find me siding with a lot of those who would be likely to defend Josh Duggar. Recently, Gawker posted a story that outed Tim Geithner’s brother as a man who enjoys gay sex. That’s fine, what he does with his life is his business.
What’s not okay is publishing a story on the man when he himself had not done anything in the public sphere. Yes, he was a high ranking figure in an important publishing company, but never once did he use his political connections for unethical action and nor did he ever make public statements that could be viewed as racist, sexist, homophobic or bigoted in some way. Thankfully, the post was deleted, but pathetically, the staff at Gawker defended it for some ridiculous reasoning.
Ultimately, this issue of media ethics is an area where sensible liberal publications have it right and conservative individuals have it absolutely wrong. If you get data that exposes hypocrisy or embarrasses a racist, sexist, homophobic or otherwise bigoted individual, you run with the story. Duggar, a proper example. Geithner, a hideous and downright evil piece of writing.