Before I begin I want to make it completely clear; I have no interest in Prince Harry’s willy. Nor do I care about the rules of strip billiards or the fact that a healthy 27-year-old man lets his hair down with his mates. Even if he was first in line to the throne I wouldn’t care either. Bothered? Me? And neither are you.
Except you should be.
But not because of what Henry Charles Albert David Windsor got up to in a Vegas hotel room last week, but rather because of what The Sun newspaper did today. If you have been on another planet for a few days you’ll have missed the fact that The Sun has published pictures of young Harry in the buff.
The newspaper argues that this is about press freedom. Tosh. It’s about sales.
The Sun says that because these nude images had been available on the web for days and that hundreds of millions of people had seen them it was a matter of press freedom if the British press was prevented from printing the same images. That is false logic parading in Emperor’s clothes.
For a start – just because something has been published on the web does not mean it MUST be able to be published in newspapers. After all, there are websites devoted to explaining how to commit suicide, how to make bombs and how to shoot down aircraft. Would The Sun argue that it is a matter of press freedom because these items are available online they must also be available in their tawdry publication? Even The Sun has standards – honest, they do. So the argument that because something has been previously published and therefore preventing it from being republished is a barrier to press freedom is patent nonsense.
But what The Sun has done is probably the first step in REDUCING press freedoms. Here’s why. Politicians are fuming – just listen to them on the radio or watch them on TV. They are like pack dogs sensing blood. What will the result of that be? Legislation.
Just when the politicians were relatively happy to let Lord Leveson tell them what to do, along comes Rupert Murdoch to rock the boat. Now, no matter what the Enquiry produces, politicians are in no mood to let The Sun go unpunished. And that will punish all of us who write – including your blog.
If you think that’s not the case, just take a look at what is happening elsewhere in the world. Already in Australia there are proposals which will limit the freedom of bloggers by making them adhere to strict rules. In China, the whole blogging industry is under attack. Not too far away in Thailand bloggers are facing a clampdown. In India sites are facing closure because they are a “threat to national security”. And the list goes on.
Amongst the political elite of the world – who meet up with each other constantly, there is a growing appetite for controlling the web.
In its pathetic attempt to cover up a sales promotion as a bid for press freedom The Sun has merely added fuel to that fire. Rather than increasing our freedoms, Rupert Murdoch and his cronies have actually taken us a step backwards.
They don’t need to be ashamed for trying to make money out of tittle-tattle (even though most of us don’t like it, there is a commercial market for it). But they should be ashamed of what they have done in getting politicians to think that they need to create more controls over publishing, including what we do online.
- The Sun defies Palace and publishes naked photos of Prince Harry (itv.com)
- UK tabloid prints naked Prince Harry pictures (cnn.com)
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+