The age of the death of privacy

By Jordan Turner on May 5, 2014

Lost in the whole controversy over LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling is the complete and total disregard of privacy.   Although Mr. Sterling’s comments were despicable, racist, outdated and misguided, they were made in the privacy of his own home. He did not make any comments in a public form, whether it was online, in the media or in the streets.  Mr. Sterling was having a private conversation with his girlfriend in his home.  People will allude to the fact that Mr. Sterling has made controversial comments in the past regarding race, yet the firestorm that he is now facing, including a life ban from attending NBA games, a $2.5 million fine and will undoubtedly receive extensive pressure to sell the franchise, only occurred when a private conversation was secretly recorded. 

The outrage should be as to why his overt racism was not dealt with at a date prior to the deceitful recording of a private conversation. However, the audio recording was made public without Mr. Sterling’s consent and people embraced mob rule and ensured Mr. Sterling was punished as soon as humanly possible.  Despite people’s outrage, the comments made by Mr. Sterling were not illegal and he had every right to say what did.However, the recording that was made was, in fact, illegal under the California Penal code 632 and could lead to a fine of $2,500 or one year in prison for first time offenders.

The fact remains that not a thought has been given to the loss of privacy or the illegal recording. Imagine, if you would, that you were in the privacy of your home and you were having a private conversation with a guest about your employer.  You are frustrated at work and had a few choice words to describe the company and your employer that in a public forum would be deemed completely unacceptable. Imagine that the guest recorded the whole conversation and gave it to your employer, who subsequently dismissed you for cause.  Would that be right or would you believe that comments made in the privacy of your home should have remained private?  How about if one were to be sued for libel for untrue or uninformed comments that people make every day in private conversations? Although many of us would like to believe that we are above saying anything controversial, or in any way wrong, I guarantee most of us have made quite a few comments in our home, that if they were to become public, would cause us an extraordinary amount of trouble.

The moment comments made in the privacy of our homes are no longer considered private then the freedom that millions have fought and died for will cease to exist.  We cannot turn into a society that will not allow a person to talk freely in their own home without the fear of repercussions.  The moment that happens, the freedoms that most of us take from granted each and every day will vanish.  

I’m disgusted by Mr. Sterling’s comments but ultimately I’m even more appalled by the death of privacy and so should we all be.

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