Anyone who has read my attempts at writing before will know I'm a republican; I'm about as staunch a republican as they come. My strong (some argue over-zealous) egalitarian beliefs that regardless of gender, race, place of birth or sexuality all are born equal have seen me write some angry words in light of the bizarre and unmerited re-ascension of the British monarchy through the lens of an increasingly sycophantic British media over the past couple of years.
I've railed against MPs presenting themselves like cats on heat to them. I have argued that if we can't cut them off we should at least make them generate real profits for the state. I've also argued against the sycophancy that turns our media from an important device check and balance in a democracy into an infantile, wet-Y-fronted, and unquestioning propaganda tool for an organisation that sits on billions-upon-billions of pounds worth of assets and holds theoretical power over our government and their subjects.
You'd think I'd be laughing my arse off with all of this ridicule of a man who is third in line to become Head of State for a country of 60 million people for no good reason, that I'd revel in the fact that the country's biggest newspaper, the Sun, published nudey photos of him gallivanting around Las Vegas. You'd think I'd see this as a great opportunity to undermine the monarchy and bring about a glorious day when we were able to elect a Head of State.
Well you might think that but you'd be wrong.
See, much as I don't recognise the title of Prince, much as what snippets I've garnered about the over-privileged man don't paint a picture of an appealing human being (he'd have his art teacher paint that picture were this going towards his exam grades) my opposition to monarchy is based on the fact they're just normal unremarkable people like you and I.
Harry's just a human being and as such I believe he should have no more or less rights than everyone else and human beings deserve the right to privacy and to reveal their naked bodies to people on terms they agree. The taking and sharing of naked pictures without permission is to me a form of abuse, and for me, Harry is a victim.
Of course many have sought to confuse the issue, conflating an individual's body privacy with the right of the press to hold the monarchy to account - resulting in the Sun printing pictures they had no right or public interest reason to print. The argument that the naked body of a single man who's never moralised about the behaviour of others is somehow public interest is junk. The argument that because people have already seen it on the web they had to print it is entirely specious. The internet's full of stuff unfit for distribution by mainstream media outlets. However, much as once again the Murdoch press play fast and loose with the privacy of individuals with no interest beyond selling papers to people dressed up as press freedom, the rest of the media have played their part too.
Do we really think Newsnight's debate was about press freedom or was it yet another chance for the BBC to talk about their favourite subject, the royal family? The increasingly not-as-brilliant-as-it-used-to-be Channel 4 News also managed to find time in its reduced length show to cover this salacious royal claptrap dressed as a story on press freedom whilst campaigners across the country are screaming to know why no-one is covering a privatisation of our NHS.
You see, if these media channels really cared about press freedom in relation to monarchy they'd be insisting that the royal family's absurd exemption from the Freedom of Information act be terminated. Then they could start asking questions that really are in the public interest like what's the real cost of the monarchy, what do they do with their time, how do they seek to use their position to influence (especially Charles), who do they seek to influence, how much do they spend on what and the myriad of more important questions properly trained journalists would know better to ask than a cheerful drummer playing at being a blogger.
Even when it comes to Harry there are important questions that a media who really cared about the public interest would be asking instead of showing these pictures. Such as:
- Who paid for his trip to Las Vegas
- How much did security cost and who's paying for it
- Why do Harry and his brother seemingly never spend any time doing their jobs and spend all their time on leave when the British forces are active and stretched around the world and facing cuts
- Why didn't they help their colleagues who had the leave they actually deserved cut short in the wake of the G4S debacle by donning uniforms and doing their bit as they were seemingly at every Olympic event
- And similarly, how much did it cost to train Harry to fly an Apache helicopter and how many active service hours has he put in since qualifying
All these questions can be answered without a single pube being shown. So please British media, trade in gossip and tittle-tattle by all means, but don't dress it up as public interest.
As for the public, well I wonder if many have thought of the implications of sharing and viewing images of people when they haven't given their permission. Would they like it if they happened to them, or a loved one? Harry's just an unremarkable person and it seems the unremarkable people in his family aren't happy about this intrusion and for once I agree with them.