It has been a mere week since we saw the message from some ‘experts’ on the daughter of David Beckham. What I would call a beyond acceptable choice on the media and its non-stop pursuit of what we consider to be values. It does so whilst doing whatever it can to get ratings, to grow circulation. A tsunami of what we call ‘the Glossy invasion‘.
Yesterday we saw (at http://edition.cnn.com/2015/08/14/opinions/arbiter-royal-photos/index.html), with the title ‘Can UK royals win battle against paparazzi?‘ In my view there will be no battle, as we see the quote “While aides were quick to praise the British media for not printing illicit photos, they issued their strongest warning yet to those who choose to forgo decent editorial practices” as well as “Many would argue that all children, not just those who are royal, should be allowed to play free from the prying eye of a photographer intent on financial gain, sequestered in the boot of his car and equipped with a long lens“. It comes with the final mention “how do you mandate a global press“. Which in my view is very easy, you wage war, plain and simple!
For the larger extent the media has shown themselves to be little more than the mere equivalent of a prostitute with the moral compass that is significantly worse than that of a crack dealer.
But is this the extent of it? Are we overreacting? Let’s face it, pictures are taken every day, we photograph celebrities every day (when we can), but to what extent will we ignore a person’s right to privacy? Many like me, we will bump into the odd celebrity at times, hoping to get a picture or a selfie, many will oblige, take the time and effort. Yet not all are in that mindset, especially when they feel unready to face the scrutiny of the lens. Some will try this at red carpet events when the stars are all ready to be photographed. So those moments are often easy moments to get the star we would like to snap for that Kodak moment. The Paparazzi is another matter entirely. They have always been in the news and when it comes to Royal families, these people tend to go completely overboard. I still personally feel that Lady Diana Spencer was murdered by the paparazzi. Now we see that her grandchildren are increasingly in danger by perhaps even those very same paparazzi.
So is this real danger or alleged danger?
This is a question that is more than just a mere legality, history has shown that extremists will take any chance to propel their own agenda at the expense of anyone else. Which means that for these extremists, the children of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would be regarded as legitimate targets and as such the paparazzi could be intended or not aiding said extremists. In my personal view the quote “London’s Metropolitan Police soon after released a statement saying protection officers had to make split-second decisions, and photographers using covert tactics ran the risk of being mistaken for someone intent on doing harm” (source ABC at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-15/royals-increasingly-dangerous-tactics-photograph-prince-george/6699632) is something to ponder. In my view (again a personal one) shooting one of these paparazzi’s ‘accidently’ might not be the worst idea, it seems that when these individuals realise that whatever they do comes at a cost of life, their moral compass tends to reset towards what keeps them alive.
Yet this is only the introduction to an article that graced the Independent on Saturday (at http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/prince-george-and-the-paparazzi-deferring-to-the-long-arm-of-buckingham-palace-10457349.html). Here we see the quote in the subtitle: ‘the former boss of Hacked Off, a critic of press intrusion, says this time the royals are expecting too much protection‘. Is that so?
Consider this quote: “along with the carefully posed images of George holding his baby sister, Princess Charlotte. The “bad” photos, to be clear, might look cute but they’re not, since they were taken by unauthorised photographers. These pictures are so bad, in fact, that the police have warned anyone taking them that they risk being shot. Has everyone taken leave of their senses?”
I am not sure whether they have!
You see, I personally have the skill to take someone’s head of at three times the distance of what my large lens can do (the 200mm I could afford), so when a paparazzi holding a shoulder mount for their camera, could at 300-600 meters easily be mistaken for a rifle, the Leupold VX-3L 6.5-20x56mm is the size of a Canon lens, so I feel quite outspoken that the police has not taken leave of their senses!
Yet my view in all this is not even that side, it is not the ‘morality’ of the paparazzi, even though they rank up there with ice pushers on a schoolyard. This is not about them trying to get the shots of an adult, this is about children, royalty or not! That part does not matter. Just as another article that saw us in defense of David Beckham’s little princess, is setting us off in equal measure here.
This is not merely about a child with a dummy. This is about what was behind that. Let me re-iterate that. Several sources state “The comfort from sucking on a pacifier provide security and comfort can reduce the amount of stress a baby experiences“. I am not stating that I know why the Beckham’s were in that article, the entire dummy (read pacifier) could be about his little girl not feeling well, yet I feel certain that the paparazzi are leaving their own mark of stress with these children. We all have a direct need to keep children safe, those who cause a child to be in distress can find themselves suddenly surrounded by people wanting to do those transgressors harm and on our scale in general, a paparazzi does not really score that high and after what happened to the grandmother of Prince George and Princess Charlotte we see even less reasons to go soft on those paparazzi.
In my view, the courts seem to have gone overboard to protect the media in the past. When we look at Von Hannover v Germany , we saw that even though an injunction was granted, we see that ‘allowances’ are made for public figures. We tend to get the following “a public figure does not necessarily enjoy the same respect for their private life as others, as matters of public concern might justify the publication of information about that person that might otherwise interfere with the right to privacy“, yet in this light, clear consideration must be given to children, especially those under 17 to be regarded out of bounds. If we can accept that Harper Seven Beckham is showing possible signs of stress, stress that could very well be brought through unbalanced and unwanted exposure to the media and strangers, the law will require additional tightening, especially in regards to the right of privacy and additional optional prosecution to those invading that privacy.
In the case of the very long lens that case is much harder to make as the perpetrator is nowhere near the victim, yet in that same case, in the case of Prince George and Princess Charlotte, the possible interpreted danger to their lives by the people assigned to protect these royal members, to them the option arrives that any threat to the royal family must be met with deadly determination if need be.
As such, responding to the allegations in the independent, no one took leave of their senses. Some took leave of common sense for money and that tends to come with a consequence. Yet the article in the Independent is quite good, it asks valid questions. When we see “People are allowed to take pictures in a public place as long as their behaviour doesn’t amount to stalking, in which case it could have been dealt with under the Protection from Harassment Act“, this is a valid point. But in this case there are two additional elements. The paparazzi could easily be mistaken for a Predatory stalkers, an individual spying on a victim in order to prepare and plan an attack, which led me to the extremist link. A side that the writer of the article should have mentioned more prominently. In addition, this is not against adults, this is against children, a group that deserve additional layers of protection, no matter how public a figure their parent is, or both of them are. A situation that applies to both the Duke and duchess of Cambridge as well as the Beckham’s. The Independent does raise parts again when they state “The couple may fear a terrorist attack, but that’s a reason for reviewing overall security, including the wisdom of allowing George to play in a public park“, which again is a fair enough statement. Yet in equal measure is that until that fear is reasonable, having children to be a child everywhere is a given right to the child and as such we, not the child will have to make allowances, including an extended right to privacy and security. A side Niraj Tanna seemed to ignore for what is likely to be founded on income, not any greater good.
So does Joan Smith, former executive director of ‘Hacked Off’ have a case here? She brings it well enough, but in my view, elements are missing. No matter whose children they are, children are entitled to extensive layers of protection, especially against paparazzi and outside (read non family based pressures). Even if these hunters take their respectable distance, the pictures will haunt them forever, they will become the object of extreme obsession to some, which tends to go wrong at some point.
In light of consenting to photography, the ‘non-consenting child’ seems to be the factor that many seem to ignore. Media law is due a massive update on a global scale, we have catered to what people regard as ‘freedom of the press’ for far too long, a press that seems to take a wide berth around PriceWaterhouse Coopers and Tesco issues (the PwC side of it), or the SFO matters connected to all this. Now, we can understand that that issue is not something that is of interest for the Glossy magazines, but the media is for the most not some little magazine. They are conglomerates. Companies like Bauer Media and VNU can invoke pressures that can paralyse governments. They control dozens of magazines that can change public opinion in a heartbeat. They only way to deal with this is to adapt laws that give added protection to media exploitation of children, whether they come from public figures or not. In addition it is interesting to raise the case of Paparazzo Richard Fedyck from April this year. The quote “The Vancouver celebrity photographer faces charges of assault with a weapon, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and criminal harassment. He made his first court appearance after arriving hours in advance in a bid to avoid cameras and media” gives us the clear view that the paparazzi tends to be camera shy. It is equally hilarious that we get “his defence lawyer Jonathan Waddington immediately asked for a ban on publication of the court proceedings”. Irony is such a lovely dish at times (at http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/paparazzo-in-ryan-reynolds-hit-and-run-case-makes-court-appearance-1.3053082). So it seems that privacy is treasured by paparazzi when they are the focal point of issues.
It is high time that some legal media matters change as soon as possible, especially where it concerns children.