11 August 2006

Making royals look degraded is mediocratic "fun"



The News of the World's royal editor has been arrested in connection with an alleged plot to bug phone conversations between Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall. There is talk, once again, of tighter privacy laws, Fleet Street being in the "last chance saloon", and so on.

It’s easy to criticise the tabloid press for its gutter ethics. But the ethics of the press to some extent reflect the ethics of the nation.

The royal bugging story demonstrates two symptoms of mediocracy (i.e. dumbed down democratisation).
(1) Anyone who still has pretensions to being treated as special (royals, ministers, film stars etc.) is considered fair game for being "exposed" to be as degraded as everybody else.
(2) Ordinary people are considered to have a right to inspect all aspects of a public figure's life, since he owes his status to their say-so.

We may argue about privacy laws, but the law isn’t necessarily the best way to regulate the media. Halting the decline in respect for individuals, or not encouraging hostility towards those who are “privileged”, might be more appropriate. More legislation would attack the symptoms rather than the cause.