[guest post by JVW]
I am loathe to blog about matters that better belong on a site like TMZ or Egotastic, but there is an interesting matter pertaining to cultural mores that is worth exploring, so here goes:
Over the weekend the Hollywood-gossip portion of the Internet was all abuzz with news that a hacker or a group of hackers had managed to access naked “selfies” of several pop culture icons and had begun posting them to places like Twitter and Reddit. These photos (and perhaps in some cases videos) were obtained by the hacker(s) allegedly figuring out the owner’s password on the iCloud, and downloading them from there. Roughly a dozen celebrities had their photos posted over the weekend, and some reports indicate up to one hundred total celebrities accounts compromised, with the hacker(s) promising more postings in days to come. Though the photos have very quickly been removed from Reddit and Twitter, they no doubt are still available on the more obscure and unregulated corners of the Internet.
So as of this week the new battleground for the culture wars is to what degree should any of the blame be assigned to those celebrities who took nude pics and somehow expected that they would never see the light of day. Girls actress and creator Lena Dunham, last noted here fawning over Barack Obama, seems to take an absolutist stance that her fellow celebrities are entirely blameless:
The "don't take naked pics if you don't want them online" argument is the "she was wearing a short skirt" of the web. Ugh.
— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) September 1, 2014
Meanwhile, over at Forbes, their cybersecurity reporter thinks that anyone who shares personal files on a cloud-based systems – especially celebrities – is setting herself (since thus far, the celebrities targeted have all be female) up for trouble.
I’ll open up the comments to anyone who wants to chime in: Do you feel sorry for the celebrities involved? Do you find Lena Dunham’s response vulgar and disrespectful to rape victims, or did she pretty much get it absolutely right? To what degree do you assign part of the responsibility to the celebrities who felt they could take these pictures and store them on the cloud without having any security breaches?
UPDATE BY PATTERICO: I feel about this pretty much the same way I do about other behaviors that put one at greater risk of being victimized by criminals. Namely, I teach my children not to engage in the behaviors — but when someone else is victimized, I put the blame entirely on the criminal. I don’t see how it helps anything to get on a soapbox and start lecturing the victims on their poor judgment — and virtually all of the lecturers make their own data vulnerable to hackers in some form or fashion. Ultimately, criminals are the ones responsible for crime, not victims.
That doesn’t mean you can’t teach your children avoidance strategies. Just try to be less haughty about those who haven’t learned them. So my view is: Teach your children the lessons they need to learn, and then hold your tongue when criminals victimize people.