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Friday, January 13, 2012

The Expectation of Privacy


The longer I live, the more I ask" what is the expectation of privacy?" When I read about all the people being photographed at a Super Bowl game as part of a security measure, I knew it was miniscule or none. The representative for Super Bowl said," your expectation of privacy ends at your front door." That's about right because we don't have any control over camera location, in our town or anywhere else, for that matter.

I'm left wondering why the discussion about reporting a suicide is still going. It must be an interesting discussion but I'm just as guilty of keeping it alive. I don't know if it has to do with a prominent business man being part of the story or if people are questioning the professionalism of our newspaper or maybe it's a little of both. I agree with the poster who said, "If it's news, report it." It's better to report it than it is to suppress the news and be accused of favoritism. As I said in my post “reporting the news is the best way to stop gossip from spreading."I have been around suicide three times in my life and newspaper coverage was not a concern for any of them, but I admit I don't honestly know how the family felt but we are all assuming, one way or the other.

I was in my teens when a neighbor friend about three years older than me accidentally ran over a small child with his car. After 6 months of lawyers draining his family's life savings, repeated calls from strangers and the child's relatives harassing him, and losing friends, he left for school one day; came back when he knew everyone would be gone, pulled out out a gun, stuck it in his mouth and ended his life. I don't remember if it was reported, but I recall all the cops and the family telling the neighbors exactly what happened. The second suicide happened in South Korea when my sergeant cut his wrist and bled to death because someone mailed a letter to his wife with details of his infidelity.The third and most tragic happened when my little girl's best friend came screaming at our door saying, "my mommy wants me to stay here and wants you to call 9/11 because daddy hurt himself." The story was reported as an accidental shooting, but we later found out after a thorough investigation by the insurance company, that it was suicide. I don't think it's important to me to know all the intricate details but the truth, though embarrassing, should not hurt the family. I think placement, and minimum details should suffice in reporting a suicide.

The original draft of the lawsuit against a major company or person should have a place in our newspaper, and if it goes to court, it should make the front page. The Victoria Advocate has used discretion in the past, and it came back to bite them. I can recall two major stories where out -of -town newspapers reviled much more the Victoria Advocate because of their policies. Fairness is nearly always subjective.

It wasn't long ago when the county was forced to redact our Social Security number from property records that could be viewed by all. Income tax preparers were given personal identification numbers because they got leery because when they signed the income tax return, they were providing their Social Security number to their customers. Many times your Social Security number is the gateway for a lot of your confidential information.

I can remember my mother's probate hearing was held in front of five prisoners waiting to be arraigned and a court full of strangers, as all that private information of the will was read by the judge. I  also remember being in a jury pool standing next to a nervous old friend during voir dire. When I asked him what was wrong he said," I'm afraid one of these lawyers is going to ask that if we have ever been convicted of DWI." It was a DWI case. That question was asked, and both of us were selected.He was ashamed of me finding out, but he felt better afterwards because the information was out.

In conclusion, the expectation of privacy is minimal because we have the Patriot Act which allows government law enforcement to check your reading habits and just about anything else in the name of security. We've always had technology that most don't even know about. I read where the FBI used a computer program to access all the credit card transactions that were made in Las Vegas over a weekend, as part of their investigation of a terror threat. They are not supposed to use the evidence gathered in a terror threat against a defendant in another matter but are we sure of that? Do we even care?


Mike said...

darn I corrected my blog at VA three times and it never took.

***Public alert******

I bought a Visio Tablet for my wife but it was junk..It's my fault,I bought it at Sam's Club here in Victoria because of the price $194. The charger didn't work so we bought another at interstate but this morning the unit wouldn't charge off that charger nor the usb port,so the problem is internally...Ha,the local Sam's wanted to give me a store credit but I insisted to talk to a manager and I got full reimbursement by reading back the the refund policy. I didn't threaten with a lawyer but they knew I wasn't leaving the store...The service dept. @ Visio said for $65 they would send me a refurbished one or I could wait til July when the new tablets arrive...I bet you know what I told

Edith Ann said...

Well, you know where I stand n this matter.

You know, folks who are sane and rationally thinking and are optimistist do not committ suicide. Suicide is in a category all unto itself. There are never any answers.

When the Aadvocate says they publish these stories 'because rumors arise', I have to call bullshit on that! They fuel speculation by giving it print space.

The ones who suffer in a suicide situation are the ones left behind. Do they really need to see what they already know spashed on the pages of the Advocate? I just don't think so. The family loses their right to privacy and to grieve in private when this happens.

I just think it is singled out and for no good reason. Remember when suicides used to be one line in the police beat, "John Doe, 36, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound." Period. The was enough.

Anyway--You Go Mike on the Sam's deal!

Edith Ann said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike said...

I posted the "rumor arise" before Chris made his statement. ....For example,say I'm getting a oil change and hear that the owner committed suicide..I  would then think that the paper hid that fact to protect a prominent businessman but not for Joe Sixpack....I think families grieve and respond in different ways..for instance,if my wife did the unthinkable;I don't think I would blame the paper for  stating the obvious...I think that's their job.

I'll have to take your word on the placement because I really didn't pay that much attention to it....As for placement,I did say it could be somewhere other than the front page but circumstances could move it the front page.

Mike said...

That's the great thing about a personal blog,is that you can change the topic at the drop of the hat.

I had a hard time holding in my breakfast after reading Getsmart's latest scripted post....He wears his caucasian feelings on his sleeve,yet the is biggest contributor to race baiting on the forum....What's the word? There's got to be a better word than hypocrite....I think it's someone that wants to control the agenda through intimidation......I have written about the racial blogs that the reporter has written and I agree with other posters on this subject but this race baiter is the wrong person to be leading the charge.

I don''t know if it's right to post this opinion and change the topic of her blog or let his post deceive thee new posters.   

Mike said...

Another topic change.

Victoria is not a city for buying a pc tablet...We went to buy a replacement tablet but the 2 Office Depots,Best Buy, and Target did not have the one we wanted andit seems like a lot of them are (other than iPad) aare discontinued meaning they dumped a lot of them just before Christmas and before identifying all the flaws....Several companies are coming out wiith new models...If you know annyone interested in buying one ask the "discontinued" question but the iPad is still a safe choice even it requires a data plan and it's about $200 more.

Legion said...

Try Tiger Direct Mike.

I have bought memory sticks, power supply, 2 flat screen tvs and 2 flat screen monitors from them and never had any problems. The shipping has never taken more than 4 days.

They sell lots of other stuff too.

Mike said...

Thanks Legion

I agree I have used them before but for some reason we made aa quick at the Office Depot again across from Hastings and they had the Acer Tablet display model....It was listed @ $399 but the store next to Target had it @$349 red tag but were out...After several minutes he confirmed the $349 but he took another 30 minutes getting the power cord..Those babies are secured. They have a special tool that's attached to the tablet...Only a 14 day refund poicy for electronics..Yikes but Acer is a good company and will back up their product.