The Instigator
KirstinKate
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
MTGandP
Con (against)
Winning
7 Points

Should the private lives of public figures be open to press scrutiny?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
MTGandP
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/9/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 26,825 times Debate No: 8195
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (20)
Votes (1)

 

KirstinKate

Pro

Basic background of the topic:The extent to which the media are legally free to investigate and publish details of public figures' private lives varies from country to country. For example, France is much stricter on protecting personal privacy than Britain is. The debate has recently been given additional importance by the development of Human Rights law within Europe , as privacy is classed as a right under the European Convention of Human Rights, as well as by political scandals in France, Italy, Belgium, etc., which have highlighted the need to scrutinise public figures' behaviour closely. The arguments below apply mostly to politicians and other public officials, for example judges and civil servants, but are also partially applicable to celebrities such as film and pop stars, footballers, etc.

1.The people have a right to know about those in power over them. Their salaries are paid for by the people (whether through taxes, in the case of politicians and civil servants, or by revenue generated by films, CDs, TV, etc., in the case of celebrities). The decisions of public political figures affect many aspects of people's lives; in exchange the people have the right to make informed judgements about the kind of leaders they have. Any attempt to restrict what may be reported about public figures in the press could easily become a conspiracy to keep voters in the dark and to manipulate them.

2.All elections are to a greater or lesser extent about the character of the leading politicians involved. Unless the voters are allowed insights into their private lives they will lack the information needed to make a fair decision at the polling booth. For example, many would think that a politician who betrayed his wife in an affair was equally capable of breaking his promises and lying to his country.

3.A free press is essential to the functioning of a free-market economy, exposing corruption and dishonesty on the part of public officials and businesses. If investigative journalists are prevented from scrutinising the private lives of public figures, then corruption and crime will be much easier to hide. For example, just how does a senior civil servant afford a Ferrari, a yacht and a villa in Monaco on his government salary?

4.No clear dividing line can be drawn between public and private behaviour – drawing up rules will be arbitrary and will exclude at least some corrupt or dishonest behaviour of bearing. For example, President Mitterand of France hid his cancer from the French electorate for years – was this a public or a private matter? He also had a mistress and illegitimate daughter, who were secretly taken on some of his foreign visits at state expense; again, is this a private or a public matter?

5.Many politicians (and religious leaders) make an explicit or implicit campaign point out of their family values and other aspects of their "private" life, for example by being photographed with their loyal family, and through policy stands on such issues as divorce, single mothers, sex education, drugs, etc. If the public image such people seek to create is at variance with their own practice, such hypocrisy deserves to be exposed.
6.Public figures seek this status knowing that it will bring attention to their private lives – pop stars, footballers, etc. Constant scrutiny is the price of fame. Many celebrities actively seek media exposure in order to advance their careers, revealing many aspects of their personal lives; once success has been bought in such a fashion it is hypocritical to complain of "press intrusion" into those few aspects the star would prefer to remain hidden.
MTGandP

Con

I thank my opponent for the opportunity to engage in this interesting an unique debate. I will begin with definitions, and will then rebut my opponent's contentions and provide my own.

I negate the resolution: Private lives of public figures should be open to press scrutiny.

Definitions
My opponent says "The arguments below apply mostly to politicians and other public officials, for example judges and civil servants, but are also partially applicable to celebrities such as film and pop stars, footballers, etc." I will define "public figure" based on that.

Public figure:
1. A publicly-known figure who is directly involved in or employed by the government; a politician or public official.
2. A person whose career is based on interaction with the public; this includes entertainers, news anchors, etc. Professional athletes are categorized as entertainers.

Private: Not known or intended to be known publicly : secret. [1]

Public: Affecting the people or community as a whole; "community leaders"; "community interests"; "the public welfare". [2]

===========
Rebuttals
===========
All contentions marked with an asterisk (*) do not apply to the second definition of public figures. My opponent should be able to prove that the private lives of the majority of public figures should be open to press scrutiny, and public figures of definition two are required for a majority. Therefore, all contentions marked with an asterisk are fundamentally insufficient.

1. "The people have a right to know about those in power over them."
Private life is detached from public life; the two are mostly unrelated. Knowledge about a public figure's private life is unnecessary.
"Their salaries are paid for by the people."
How would you feel if your boss knew everything about your private life? I would certainly feel intruded upon, and would not think it justifiable. Your boss pays you for doing your job; what you do with the money is your own business. As long as public figures do their job, what they do with their money and in their private lives is irrelevant.

2*. "All elections are to a greater or lesser extent about the character of the leading politicians involved."
Elections are not about the character of the elected official; they are about the policies. Policies generally stem from character, but knowledge about the character is not necessary.
"Unless the voters are allowed insights into their private lives they will lack the information needed to make a fair decision at the polling booth."
Why? There is plentiful information available from one's public life. My opponent must prove that there is a) insufficient information from public life, b) sufficient information from private life, and c) that it is therefore justified to acquire information from private life.
". . . a politician who betrayed his wife in an affair was equally capable of breaking his promises and lying to his country."
If such a politician really cannot be trusted, it would likely come out in some public manner. If the politician is trustworthy in public office despite betraying his wife, this will also likely come out in a public manner. Investigation into private life is unnecessary.

3*. "A free press is essential to the functioning of a free-market economy, exposing corruption and dishonesty on the part of public officials and businesses."
My opponent is using an incorrect definition of free press. According to Princeton University [3], the definition of free press is "a press not restricted or controlled by government censorship regarding politics or ideology". This does not give the press the right to investigate people's private lives and publish the results. This contention is invalidated unless my opponent can prove that free press is related to the rest of the contention; the contention relies on the fact that "free press is essential to the functioning of a free-market economy", which it is not by Princeton's definition.

4. "No clear dividing line can be drawn between public and private behaviour"
This is a definitional argument, and does not support the PRO side of the resolution. If my opponent cannot effectively define public and private, then she cannot make any valid contentions, since all contentions require a definition of "private". This point only serves to invalidate my opponent's other contentions. I do not think that my opponent's contentions deserve to be invalidated because of her own fourth contention, so I shall apply my definition of "private" to my opponent's contentions.

5*. According to my definition of "private", if a politician exposes his own private life, it is not private any more since it is not "not known or intended to be known publicly". So this contention is invalid.

6. "Many celebrities actively seek media exposure in order to advance their careers."
See my rebuttal to contention 5.

===========
Contentions
===========

1. Privacy is a fundamental right that all people possess.
With some exceptions, everyone has the right to privacy. These exceptions are when private life is judged to be dangerous to the well-being of others; in those situations, a search warrant must be acquired before private life is invaded. However, other than those situations, private life is private. The fourth amendment protects United States citizens from unwarranted search and seizure. And what is unwarranted search and seizure, but an extreme form of invasion into the private life? Privacy deserves protection, even for public figures.

2. Press scrutiny into private lives is unnecessary.
Public figures are public for a reason. Much of their lives is publicly known, and so seeing into their private lives is unnecessary. Not only is it unnecessary, but it is more difficult. Why bother spending the extra effort to dig into a public figure's private life, when so much information is available from the public life?

3. Public figures are not deserving of humiliation.
How would you feel if your private (and frequently embarrassing) affairs were being broadcast all over the news? It would be highly embarrassing and excessively humiliating. It is no different for public figures. No one deserves that kind of humiliation just for being a public figure.

I thank my opponent for this interesting debate, and eagerly await her response.

References
[1] http://www.merriam-webster.com...
[2] http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu...
[3] http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu...
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 1
KirstinKate

Pro

I thank my opponet for accepting this debate.

Now I will defend my points.

1.In my opponet's 1st point he stated that "the knowledge about a public figure's private life is unnecessary." but it is necessary like i stated in my first one "the people have a right to know about those in power over them" For example if a professional wrestler got caught doing steriods which they would be doing in their spare time and private life and I young child admired that wrestler and all of his wrestling strengths the child would therby be admireing someone whose is on an illegal drug but if they did know about it then they would admire a different wrestler for making better decisions.

I'm a little confused about the * points and will not rebuttel them until con explains them better.

now do dispute con's arguments:

1.My opponet stated that "privacy is a right that all people posses." I will offer the following example President Mitterand of France hid his cancer from the French electorate for years – was this a public or a private matter? He also had a mistress and illegitimate daughter, who were secretly taken on some of his foreign visits at state expense; again, is this a private matter or a public? Privacy for public figures as this example is scruity.

2. In his second point He stated "Why bother spending the extra effort to dig into a public figure's private life, when so much information is available from the public life?" Well it is necessary because of my wrestling example I used in my first point.

3. In his 3 contention he stated "How would you feel if your private (and frequently embarrassing) affairs were being broadcast all over the news? It would be highly embarrassing and excessively humiliating. It is no different for public figures. No one deserves that kind of humiliation just for being a public figure."i welll lets say for example a governer had an affiar and the press found out and the governer has a wife and his wife finds out and divorce's him because he's been cheating. He would deserve the humilation for bad doings.

Thank you.
MTGandP

Con

". . . it is necessary like i stated in my first one "the people have a right to know about those in power over them" "
Rights and necessities are distinct. And anyway, I already rebutted the quote within this quote.

"For example if a professional wrestler got caught doing steriods which they would be doing in their spare time and private life"
Knowledge about private life would not be necessary to determine that he was using steroids. 1) People may be able to tell and 2) a simple, non-intrusive urine test could determine this.

"I young child admired that wrestler and all of his wrestling strengths the child would therby be admireing someone whose is on an illegal drug but if they did know about it then they would admire a different wrestler for making better decisions."
If a young child admired a wrestler and then learned that that wrestler was taking steroids, that child would see that it is okay to take steroids. But if the child did not know about the steroids, in this situation, what you don't know can't hurt you.

The above point was the only point that my opponent defended. My opponent has conceded all of her other points.

"I'm a little confused about the * points and will not rebuttel them until con explains them better."
All points marked with an asterisk only apply to those under my first definition of "public figure" (i.e. politicians and public figures). Celebrities and entertainers are also public figures, and my opponent must prove that the private lives of celebrities and entertainers also should be open to press scrutiny.

1. Referring to my opponent's example, if it is public, then the right to privacy does not apply. If it is private, then it does. My opponent has not refuted my assertion that public figures have the right to privacy.

2. "Well it is necessary because of my wrestling example I used in my first point."
Something is not necessary just because of a single example. My opponent should provide concrete evidence. I also offer the following rebuttal: that wrestler was a single example. Investigating every single wrestler would be terribly expensive, and in the end not worth it to find a single steroid user.

3. "He would deserve the humilation for bad doings."
Why would he deserve humiliation for cheating on his wife? He would deserve maybe a fine, jail time, and a divorce. But why would he deserve humiliation? And what about other personal but harmless affairs? For example, say a governor has a hemorrhoid problem. The press finds out, and it's all over the news. That would be horribly embarrassing, and yet he did nothing wrong. People, even governors, have a lot more harmless embarrassing affairs then harmful embarrassing ones. (By "affair", I mean "thing that happens" and not "extramarital romance".)
Debate Round No. 2
KirstinKate

Pro

Defending arguments:
1."If a young child admired a wrestler and then learned that that wrestler was taking steroids, that child would see that it is okay to take steroids. But if the child did not know about the steroids, in this situation, what you don't know can't hurt you" The con can't say this because he is not the child. So he can't tell how the child would think about the wrestler. He has no evidence.
Now to the * points-
On his first * point he states that elections are based on policies. yes it is true but someone would not want to vote for someone they know does bad things in their private lives because that could make their decisons based on bad things. Also the figure could not be trusted.

His second * point he says my definition is not superior to his princeton university definition but however my definition is from Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom. which is superior to his definition.

His third * point states that if the figure exposes his life then it is not private. however it still is private because the figure may or may not be leaving out certain details.

Now to con's arguments:
1.)" My opponent has not refuted my assertion that public figures have the right to privacy." I did state in my first point that people have the right to know about whose in power over them.

2.) I'm not saying you need to investigate every single wrestler i'm saying we need to know because of this example-02:04 PM CDT on Tuesday, July 17, 2007 Investigators said Tuesday they found steroids and other drugs in the body of pro wrestler Chris Benoit, who killed his wife and young son last month before hanging himself in the family's home.
We need to know about figures public lives so innocents don't have to be killed.

3.)I did under stand your affairs I was using an example. "why would he deserve humiliation?" He would deserve it because what he did was wrong and he needs to pay for his mistakes to learn from them.
MTGandP

Con

"The con can't say this because he is not the child. So he can't tell how the child would think about the wrestler. He has no evidence."
The same can be applied to my opponent's projection of the thoughts of the child. I was saying how I thought the child would react, and so was she. Neither of us have any concrete evidence. But my opponent has admitted that her own example involving that child is invalid, and concedes this point.

"On his first * point he states that elections are based on policies. yes it is true but someone would not want to vote for someone they know does bad things in their private lives because that could make their decisons based on bad things. Also the figure could not be trusted."
Private life is redundant; knowledge about trustworthiness in public life should be sufficient to make a character judgement. However, character judgements do not matter. My opponent has conceded this point by stating "yes it is true [that elections are based on policies]". My opponent's objections should be a separate contention.

"His second * point he says my definition is not superior to his princeton university definition but however my definition is from Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom. which is superior to his definition."
I was not saying that my definition was necessarily superior; I did not even see my opponent's definition. Could she please re-post it? Since my opponent failed to clarify the definition of "private" for the first two rounds, I request that the judges accept my definition(s) as the proper one(s).

"His third * point states that if the figure exposes his life then it is not private. however it still is private because the figure may or may not be leaving out certain details."
By the definition of "private" that I provided, if the figure exposes his own life, then it is not private.

"I did state in my first point that people have the right to know about whose in power over them."
But my opponent did not support this. I supported the right to privacy with the 4th Amendment.

"I'm not saying you need to investigate every single wrestler i'm saying we need to know because of this example..."
But how can we know which wrestlers to investigate? The only option is to investigate every single wrestler, which is not a viable option.

"He would deserve [humiliation] because what he did was wrong and he needs to pay for his mistakes to learn from them."
But why is humiliation an appropriate punishment? Fines and jail time are much more standard forms of punishment.

***

I remind the judges that my opponent has only responded to four of my rebuttals. Her points 4 and 6 are conceded. In addition, she has not responded to my criticism that points marked with an asterisk are insufficient: even if she adequately defends those points, she must prove that they are sufficient to affirm the resolution.
Debate Round No. 3
KirstinKate

Pro

KirstinKate forfeited this round.
MTGandP

Con

My opponent has forfeited. My arguments from the last round stand unrefuted. The arguments vote goes to me.

It has recently come to my attention that my opponent's entire opening argument was plagiarized from http://www.idebate.org.... Therefore, conduct goes to me.

After the initial argument (which was plagiarized), my opponent's grammar greatly declined. Spelling and grammar also goes to me.

My opponent has no sources, and I have four. Sources also goes to me.

Vote CON!
Debate Round No. 4
20 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by MTGandP 8 years ago
MTGandP
"Forgive me if the inference was in error, but your rhetoric seems to lean more toward "she is restricting the debate to only include good debaters," when there are just as many, if not more, great debaters on this website that are over the age of 16 than under it."
There are probably more; my estimation was bad. I'm not saying that most of the good debaters are 14-16. Let's just forget my original statement. What I meant was that restricting debate by age doesn't mean much in terms of actual debating skill. Which I suppose is what you meant. So we are in agreement. Gee, that was weird.
Posted by alto2osu 8 years ago
alto2osu
"Well about 70% of the "good" debaters on this site are age 14-16."

That would be what I was talking about. Saying that there are good debaters from ages 14-16 is one thing. Giving an arbitrary statistic (which is probably based on the fact that the demographic of this website tends to be in this age range) and attaching it to this debate as a defense for age restrictions clearly implies that you believe that the older debaters on this website are, on balance, not as accomplished.

Forgive me if the inference was in error, but your rhetoric seems to lean more toward "she is restricting the debate to only include good debaters," when there are just as many, if not more, great debaters on this website that are over the age of 16 than under it.

With that said, I have no qualms with the 14-16 age group. I just find it silly that the instigator of these debates seems to hold a specific standard of age, for whatever reason. Many good debaters have wanted to accept her topics, but can't because she is limiting the field significantly.
Posted by MTGandP 8 years ago
MTGandP
Why are there age restrictions on all of your debates? It seems unusual. And like alto2osu said, age is not really an indication of skill.
Posted by MTGandP 8 years ago
MTGandP
"I take offense to that statement. I am 25 years old, have coached debate for 8 years, and can say unequivocally that I am a better debater than just about any 14-16 year old on this website. The demographics of this website don't correlate in any way to real success-- you can win a debate and still have debated horribly. Not only that, but of the debates I've seen and voted for, the best debates tend to be with those older than that."
I'm not saying you're a bad debater, nor am I saying that those over the age of 14 to 16 are bad debaters. I am merely saying that people aged 14 to 16 have plenty of potential to be good debaters. For example, TheSkeptic currently 8th place, and he is only 16.

I don't see what I could have said that you took offense at. I'm just saying that a lot of good debaters on this site are aged 14 to 16. And it's irrelevant whether the demographics on this site correlate to "real" success, because I said that many good debaters on THIS SITE are age 14-16.

"Restricting the debate by age doesn't indicate skill in any way. In fact, from my experience with speechies, truly developed competitive debaters don't emerge until junior or senior year."
I agree with that.
Posted by alto2osu 8 years ago
alto2osu
As a side note, good debate is not being afraid to open that debate up to all sorts of attacks. I find debate limitations elitist, and academic activities like debate don't need the snobbery. If we wish to educate, exclusivity is hardly going to cut it, esp. when so many debaters on this website still have so much to learn.
Posted by alto2osu 8 years ago
alto2osu
I take offense to that statement. I am 25 years old, have coached debate for 8 years, and can say unequivocally that I am a better debater than just about any 14-16 year old on this website. The demographics of this website don't correlate in any way to real success-- you can win a debate and still have debated horribly. Not only that, but of the debates I've seen and voted for, the best debates tend to be with those older than that.

Restricting the debate by age doesn't indicate skill in any way. In fact, from my experience with speechies, truly developed competitive debaters don't emerge until junior or senior year.
Posted by MTGandP 8 years ago
MTGandP
"Since this site is such a craps shoot anyway, I really don't see the benefit of restricting the debate by age or rank...And it's too bad, because some statistically good debaters have showed up here. Bummer on fostering good debate..."
Well about 70% of the "good" debaters on this site are age 14-16. (I don't know what the age limits are for this debate, all I know is that I'm the right age. But I'd guess it's something like 14-16.)
Posted by alto2osu 8 years ago
alto2osu
Since this site is such a craps shoot anyway, I really don't see the benefit of restricting the debate by age or rank...And it's too bad, because some statistically good debaters have showed up here. Bummer on fostering good debate...
Posted by I-am-a-panda 8 years ago
I-am-a-panda
I can take this debate *giggles*. I guess PRO doesn't want to be pwned by 20 year old perverts.
Posted by rangersfootballclub 8 years ago
rangersfootballclub
lol what are the restictions anyway ?

also of course they should be because think about it , if you are a leading public figure by infulence and you want to be one , then you must set good examples and live a good life etc. or your popularity/support will fall. take polticans for example , people had a strong dis-like for them before tehir expenses were published , and now , well now everybody wants them burning in hell :P
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by MTGandP 8 years ago
MTGandP
KirstinKateMTGandPTied
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