Over the years, I worked closely with many police officers, combat veterans, martial artists, and self-defense experts, learning about what they did to put food on the table. When discussing violent encounters, the prevailing attitude was, “It’s awful that X happened, but it’s worse if we don’t learn from it.”
It’s a self-evident form of pragmatism that can be applied to anything that went wrong.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the commentary on the recent celebrity selfie hack. Not the story itself, because the facts are already out there, but the commentary on it, which demonstrates a lack of willingness to address real-life concerns.
- There’s no need to burnish one’s moral bona fides by declaring that anyone should be allowed to take any picture of oneself of any kind without fear of the picture being stolen. It takes no moral courage at all to insist that theft is wrong.
- There’s nothing wrong in saying that, for security’s sake, you shouldn’t put your nude selfies anywhere you don’t directly control, like the cloud. By saying so, it doesn’t mean that you condone the hackers’ actions in stealing those selfies. It also doesn’t mean that you think the people whose privacy was violated deserved it. Pointing out an error is a way of ensuring that the error isn’t repeated.
- The very nature of personal security is that it’s inconvenient. If it wasn’t inconvenient, it wouldn’t be security. Real security, the kind that comes before house keys and passwords, involves a mindset that acknowledges this inconvenience and works with it. It requires a decision-making process that doesn’t include putting nude photos of oneself on a server that can potentially be hacked (which is all servers).
- Celebrities, due to many factors that don’t need to be discussed, are at greater risk than the rest of us. Failure to acknowledge this is ludicrous. They were profiled, targeted, and hit.
- There are significant differences between being physically assaulted and robbed vs having one’s naked selfies stolen. Moral preening about both being terrible so we can conflate them is just that: preening.
- This wasn’t rape. Every comparison of having one’s nude selfies stolen to forcible penetration demeans those individuals who have actually been raped. Just as every terrible thing that has happened isn’t the Holocaust, every theft of nude selfies isn’t rape.
- Discussing what someone did to put him or herself at risk isn’t blaming the victim. Refusal to learn from others’ actions is a childish way of viewing the world.
- There’s nothing wrong with deciding that of all the things we’re supposed to be outraged by, this case isn’t a priority. It doesn’t make you evil. If learning that Jennifer Lawrence’s personal privacy was violated by hackers doesn’t peg your Outrage Meter, fine. Don’t let anyone tell you how you should feel.