Public vs. private – words mean things!

“My decision to do porn to pay for college was a private one I made” – Porn performer “Belle Knox”

You know, I see absurd, nonsensical things on a daily basis. That statement quoted above is in the running for the most absurd and nonsensical thing I have ever seen. This woman made a “private decision” to have sex with strangers on camera and then have tens of thousands of people pay to watch her have sex with strangers.

Put aside the morality of porn for a minute – how it degrades women, cheapens sexuality and destroys families. That is not the point I am making in reacting to this statement. The point I am making is that this decision cannot be described as “private” in any way that is tied to reason, logic or facts. It is nonsensical, stupid and absurd.

Think about this another way, in a morally neutral context. Instead of “acting” in pornographic films, imagine “Belle Knox” was writing a column for the Los Angeles Times about cooking. She instructed her readers about how to find the the best ingredients to make the best meals, for a reasonable price. She figures no one at Duke will see it, because it’s in a newspaper on the other side of the continent.

That plan does not work out because someone recognizes her and she becomes a minor celebrity. Fellow students ask her for advice on making specific meals or how to improve recipes they already know. “Knox” then whines publicly because writing a newspaper column to pay for her college education was supposed to be a “private” decision.

It is absolutely absurd.

We live in an exhibitionist culture, where many people over-share details about their lives. It is an amusing irony that some of those people who over-share also complain about their “privacy” being violated if what they post online winds up seeping into other areas of their lives. I always say that if you would be horrified to see something on the front page of the newspaper, you should not post it on the Internet, no matter how much you have your privacy settings locked down in your social network profiles.

But the fact of the matter is that words mean things, and the word private has a specific meaning. It is reasonable to expect that a conversation with our spouse in our home will not be publicly broadcast. But when you do and say things in public and attach your face to those things – whether it be hardcore pornography or writing a newspaper column about cooking – you cannot expect those things to remain “private” and contained to those areas. You certainly do not have any standing to whine about someone “outing” your public actions or words.

2 thoughts on “Public vs. private – words mean things!

  1. But since you're “not discussing” the various adverse effects of porn on society, you care about this and have rambled on at such length … why, again? Simply to carp on differing definitions of “private”? You're the male counterpart of Grammar Girl, now? That's *really* absurd.

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