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A matter of public interest

I was vaguely unsatisfied with Monday's Post column about R&B damsel-in-distress Rihanna, but it makes a couple points worth making and got the treasured Full Pundit seal of approval.


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Comments (25)


"In retrospect, it seems like a miracle that we have come to reject such premises despite the lack of prior examples of known abuse amongst celebrity couples."

I'd say Ike and Tina are probably the most famous, though of course we only found out about it later.


David Justice and Halley Berry?

Warren Moon and....

you've obviously not been married...or been married to a a woman with a temper....

I've certainly never BITTEN one.


Chris Selley endorsed your column? Now I have to go read it to see if you spoke out in favour of wife beating.


Well, that's a biting remark...

Wow, dude, I'm sorry, but I've just been through that comment thread and your readers are really, really stupid.

Don't be ridiculous. It's hardly a scientific sample of either my personal following or the Post's readers. Even the "average" FC comment thread isn't a proper sample, and this one's been statistically contaminated by the infiltration of the heartbreakingly pathetic "men's rights" grapevine which is familiar to every working journalist. Also, "stupid" must be carefully distinguished from "insane".

Kevin Michael Grace:

Take back the night, Colby. Take back the night.

"In retrospect, it seems like a miracle that we have come to reject such premises despite the lack of prior examples of known abuse amongst celebrity couples."

Mike Tyson/Robin Givens comes to mind.

Crid [cridcridatgmail]:

There was a Letterman joke saying Givens had accused Tyson of being psychotic on a Barbara Walters interview... With Tyson sitting next to her.


hmmmm. interesting list, this: http://www.safe4all.org/essays/victims

I mean, who knew??

Lionel Hutz would have loved your column....

Fred S.:

"We are all now dedicated not only to the proposition that such violence is unacceptable, but to the tacit premise that household violence is inherently a public matter and hence an appropriate sphere for legal intervention. Objectively, the argument for Rihanna’s right to personal privacy is an argument for her right to pursue and preserve a relationship with her abuser.

Whether or not they mean to, those who fetishize her privacy (which would inherently be compromised by a public trial of the incident) are preaching the old patriarchal message: Keep it in the family. Don’t pry into your neighbours’ business."

Hmmmm... on the one hand, libertarian principles of individual autonomy, limited government and personal privacy... on the other, modish received moral wisdom. Was there ever any doubt as to which side Cosh would come out on?

Colby Cosh: Canada's answer to Will Wilkinson (without the hot girlfriend).

Blowing a raspberry the golden calf of "privacy" that's been constructed on the foundations of Roe v. Wade may be right or wrong, but I never expected it to be called disgustingly fashionable. And "don't assault other people" isn't just a libertarian principle, surely?

Fred S.:

You've quite misunderstood me, sir. Firstly, I'm virtually certain the idea of "privacy" as a Good Thing didn't spring up in 1972. Jesus, are you truly that much of amnesiac? I was thinking more of the "an Englishman's home is his castle" idea of privacy, which has a pedigree at least three-and-a-half centuries long.

What's disgustingly fashionable is the notion that domestic violence is some sort of sui generis category of wrong, whose remedy requires the jettisoning of all our deeply-patriarchal, unfashionable common law principles. Last I heard, this fellow is going to be prosecuted even though the young woman's refusing either to testify or to uphold her complaint.

I would have thought the state's use of its penal power to intervene in a girl's romantic life would be precisely the sort of thing a partisan of "liberty" would reject. I stand corrected. I did appreciate your invokation of the couple's economic interests at the end of the piece, though. I guess only the meanest and most spiritually-impoverished aspects of your libertarianism persist.

In short, I liked you better when you were sticking it to the Boomers.

My bad: I forgot that the Magna Carta specifically refers to Lamborghini automobiles as a sort of highly portable "castle". And while I was taught that criminal prosecutions in the common-law world are ordinarily carried out by the Sovereign, or the sovereign people, rather than the victim, this may well have been a dreadful solecism.

In my opinion, it is ONLY the new, degraded notion of privacy that can allow anybody to think that the evidence in a curbside assault should be a state secret.

In my opinion, it is ONLY the new, degraded notion of privacy that can allow anybody to think that the evidence in a curbside assault should be a state secret.

One would think that the evidence should be disclosed in the course of a prosecution though. Evidence getting reported in the media is a by-product of a judicial process that includes open courts. In the present case, the objection (as I understand it), isn't to the fact that the pictures were ultimately released but that they were leaked at this point. If they ended up getting published as part of the trial process, that's one thing. Say that Brown pleads guilty though. In that case, it's not necessarily justified for these pictures, which Rihanna probably didn't want on the front page of every magazine, to be released.

If we accept that the privacy interest of Rihanna needs to bend to the state interest in prosecuting crime, that's one thing. I'm not sure that the financial interest of tmz.com ranks in priority to Rihanna's privacy interest though and that's the way that this went down.

There's also a general public interest in having the media report the news. I don't really give a crap about TMZ.com's financial interests.

Fred S.:

Okay, now I have to believe you're being intentionally obtuse. I would recommend a little experiment. First, get yourself victimised by (a non-domestic) violent crime and file a complaint with the police. Afterwards, return to the cop shop and say you wish to withdraw your complaint and that you will refuse to testify. Will the cop (a) straighten his spine and piously inform you that it is the Sovereign who prosecutes offences and that she has elected to do so even in the absence of your complaint or (b) shit-can your statement and drop the case, possibly after warning you about the penalties for filing a false report?

And hence domestic violence's sui generis status. I suppose we could discuss the mandatory arrest rules that prevail in many American jurisdictions:


but that would really be gilding the lily.

And one might ask where I demanded anything be a "state secret". You have an unfortunate tendency to argue in snarky bad faith, Colby.

I submit to the objective judgment of the reading public the question which one of us has been radiating 180-proof "snark" since the second he clambered into this thread.

Fred S.:

Well, fair enough. Of course, I never straw-manned you, as you did me; I was just a bit impertinent. Have you given up on the factual side of the argument?

I have to confess, free of snark, that I am getting the powerful impression that your knowledge of both the criminal justice system and relations between the sexes is almost purely theorteical.

You started this conversation with the accusation that I had thrown aside all libertarian principles; now you protest "I never straw-manned you." And you sure missed a few spots with the mop in the "free of snark" part there. So, yes, I am giving up the argument as a futile tilt with an asshole, conducted on my nickel no less. My apologies if you regard this as a premature judgment, but I do not think any fair reader will.

This fair reader very much regrets your decision to withdraw from the argument, Mr. Cosh. Not because I think you have rhetorically missed your point, but because, like most people who read blog comment threads, what I ultimately want is blood.

Crid [cridcridatgmail]:

> what I ultimately want is blood.

Me too, I love that shit... But guys who say things like "You've quite misunderstood me, sir" are never going to bleed the right color anyway.

Crid [cridcridatgmail]:

But one last moment to imagine what could have been:

> your knowledge of both the criminal
> justice system and relations between
> the sexes is almost purely
> theorteical.

I love that! The problem with Cosh is that he won't take candy from babies.


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