Behind The Scenes

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In the aftermath of the untimely death of Princess Diana a timeworn issue re-plays itself like a tired re-run of “The Honeymooners.'; Does the media go too far? Maybe. But like any other commodity, supply and demand go hand and glove. Whether a high profile celebrity or an every-day Joe, we sit glued to our chairs as the nightly news somberly announces society’s latest barbarity. We eagerly snatch up the tabloids as these mudslingers breathlessly divulge their version of the most recent Hollywood gossip. The fact is that America has become obsessed with the goings on in other people’s lives. Greedy consumers of the First Amendment, we march defiantly under the banner of our “right to know';, but do we have just cause? Differences and difficulties in interpretation have characterized much of the later history of the First Amendment and historians continue to debate what the nation’s founders meant to include when they wrote that there shall be “no law'; abridging the freedom of speech or press. Today the U. S. Supreme Court blindly inches its way across the tightrope of censorship. Laws prohibiting obscenity and indecency have been successfully incorporated and public sentiment has historically served to curtail the over-zealous journalist. However the moral fiber of society has degenerated from its once prim and proper past, and the press now vulgarly oversteps the boundaries of decency with little retribution. In the words of Chief Justice Warren Burger, “The First Amendment should not be interpreted to include the protection of frivolous gossip that “lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value'; (Grolier Encyclopedia 1996, Miller v. California). The People’s “right to know'; does not justify the growing abuse of our right to Freedom of the Press. The negative effect upon today’s society is only beginning. Tabloids not only thrive on; they encourage the invasion of privacy. In an era defined by celebrity worship, Americans have become increasingly tolerant of what is acceptable concerning media coverage of celebrities’ private lives. It is unfortunate that Princess Diana died for a blurry picture, a pointless snap from a speeding motorcycle. Dodging tabloid photographers she was simply trying to preserve some privacy by holding back the media intrusion. In the sixteen years since her marriage, she became not only the most famous woman in the world, but the only personality who consistently sold big in the global marketplace (Alter, Dying 39).

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