A Triumph For Privacy

Max Mosley’s father was the wartime fascist party leader Oswald Mosley. Max Mosley is the president of the International Automobile Federation, has a thing for sado-masochistic sex with hookers and got secretly filmed frolicking with five of them. Scandal rag News of the World decided his private life was somehow our business, even though his private life and sexual preferences had and have no bearing on his ability to do his job. They say:

The FIA has a global membership of almost 125 million. It encompasses all creeds, religions and cultures, and the members have a right to expect their elected leader and most senior representatives to maintain standards in both his professional and private life so as to maintain the dignity and respect for his office and the organisation, the richest sport in the world.

How does any electorate gain the right to determine an elected representative’s private life? I don’t get that you see. On the surface it’s the same as the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky affair – sure the guy’s a sleazebag (in that case you knew before he was even elected), but did that private, consensual sex affect his ability to do his job? No. Sure he was cheating on Hillary but that’s their problem surely? Is that not the same with the Max Mosley affair, or was there something deeper going on? Former Archbishop Lord Carey said:

“If a politician, a judge, a bishop or any public figure cannot keep their promises to a wife, husband, etc, how can they be trusted to honour pledges to their constituencies and people they serve?”

“This is a bleak, deeply-flawed ’anything goes’ philosophy. It is also dangerous and socially undermining – devoid of the basic, decent moral standards that form the very fabric of our society.”

I fail to see how Max Mosley’s private behaviour affects the fabric of society, unless of course Carey’s attacking the sex itself. What a surprise it would be for the former Archbishop of Canterbury to be campaigning against sexual practice he’s simply prejudiced against. From the government’s first attempt to equalise the gay and straight ages of consent, instead of siding with equality, he chose instead make a moral judgment on sex which was already consensual for heterosexual partners and sided with his bishops who:

stress(ed) that sexual relationships legislation should “set an example of what is good and be rooted in sound moral values”.

“Pressures are at work to legitimise any and every lifestyle irrespective of any difference of value and quality between them,” said the statement.

“These pressures should be resisted.”

Except he and they were wrong, and gay sex at 16 and 17 hasn’t turned out to be any more dangerous for society since 2000, than equally consensual S&M sex is now. NOTW continued however in the same vein as Carey:

His activities were not “Carry On” style hanky-spanky parties, as his legal team argued.

They were brutal, repulsive and depraved, as the evidence in the case revealed.

The beatings were violent and blood was drawn after Mosley was relentlessly whipped with a birch. Prostitutes were subjected to simulated rape.

He beat girls’ bare bottoms with a leather strap and barked “I zink zey need more of ze punishment.” He counted out the blows and then a prostitute performed a sex act on him. He also had full sex with one of the women.

Before that, he played out a bizarre scene where he had his genitals inspected and measured, his bottom shaved and had his hair searched for lice.

This was all consensual. That our ‘moral guardian’ George Carey and champion of ‘family values’ News International (seen page 3 of The Sun recently?) don’t like it really is tough. If he’d raped any of the prostitutes then he should be in jail, if he’d done this in the workplace he should be (maybe) fired, but neither was the case. Maybe the point wasn’t even the sex. Maybe it’s his name:

Mosley won his high court action against the News of the World on Thursday after Mr Justice Eady ruled there was no public interest in the story, and that there were no Nazi connotations in what Mosley was doing.

Cute. Their ‘public morality’ argument was really just a smokescreen to try to link Max with his father, to suggest that fascist Oswald bred a Nazi son. And now they’ve failed, they’re now making straw man arguments which don’t stand up to the most basic tests of logic:

What, for instance, would your response be if your child’s teacher enjoyed inflicting pain on others and took part in S&M orgies with prostitutes ?

Wouldn’t you want to know?

Don’t you have a RIGHT to know?

Or the Cabinet Minister and the Archbishop caught indulging in their dark, secret sexual fantasies?

I don’t care about teachers’ sex lives if they’re private and consensual. I don’t care about Cabinet Ministers’ sex lives, unless they use them as weapons. Michael Portillo jumped on John Major’s ‘family values’ bandwagon in the 90s for cheap electoral gain, even though he was a closet bisexual. Sure that was in the public interest, because he was pretending he was something other than what he was to the detriment of others – not the case with Max Mosley. I’m pleased with his huge damages victory and that he’s going to sue them and others for libel. This unfettered presumption that the media can intrude without consideration into people’s lives has got to stop – surely each individual case has to be weighed up on its own merits rather than saying there’s either an unrestricted or no right to privacy?

The News of the World is proud of its tradition for investigative and campaigning journalism

Our Sarah’s Law campaign has pioneered 14 new pieces of legislation to give the public more protection and information of convicted paedophiles in the community.

There is no newspaper in this country more repellent than the News of the World. Proud of its tradition of ruining people’s lives, intruding into private matters which aren’t anyone’s business, and starting moral panics for the sake of profit more like. Papers like the NOTW are, more than any other non-governmental organisation, responsible for the culture of ‘protection’ which I’ve blogged about a bit recently. And their ‘Sarah’s Law’ campaign did this:

Vigilante groups, mainly composed of parents incensed at the idea of having convicted paedophiles living in their area, mounted angry protests outside the suspected sex offenders’ houses. Two men accused of child sex offences committed suicide and four innocent families fled their homes in Portsmouth after gossip and rumour wrongly identified them as harbouring paedophiles. Violence flared in Plymouth and Whitely, Berkshire. Innocent men mistaken for paedophiles were targeted in London and Manchester.

Max Mosley’s own final word:

“The News of the World stole my image and my dignity. I feel very strongly that some newspapers literally ruin people’s lives and more has to be done to stop this.”

Couldn’t agree more.

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