Aug 12, 2004

The governor of New Jersey resigned today. I think he did it with grace and style.

It brings up an age old question - how much of a public figure's private life is our business?

Who on this earth can be shown to have done no wrong in their lifetime? Given that, what indiscretion, poor choices, lies, omissions, and other acts should be laid bare for the public to judge? Is the standard different for political figures than it is for performers? For religious leaders?

Who someone sleeps with may be of interest when talking about someone who is to represent a standard of behavior in everyday life, such as clergy. One should expect such a person to "practice what they preach". But when it comes to political figures, sports figures, actors and the like, is it our business? Since it can already be assumed that such people will have been untruthful at some point in their life - who has not? - is it the lie or the act that's offensive? And if they do not tell the truth to someone who has no right to the information, is it a lie? Or is it a polite way to say "none of your damn business, thank you."

If you run for public office and during your acceptance speech a reporter asks you what underwear you have on, are you obligated to tell them? If you don't tell them the truth, is that a moral offense? If they want to know how many times you slept with your spouse, is it their business? Are we going to make the leap from judging a public figure by the wholesomeness of their union to the number of their "unions"? At what point is it just none of our business?

When we make the leap from what a person does and who they are in the most intimate sense, I think we are setting them up for lies and omissions. We have no right to indulge our purient interests just because we have a captive subject. Does someone being gay make them unfit? No. And if we force them to lie about it, is it their moral fiber that should be in question? Or is it ours?

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