The private life is dead–Dr. Zhivago

If the Anthony family saga demonstrates anything it is that “the private life is dead.”

Look at how many private lives were aired during the Casey Anthony trial—not only the entire Anthony family’s but all of her many boyfriends’, girlfriends,’ an innocent bystander named Zanaida, and even the private lives of the Anthony home-water-meter reader and his son.

The trial was nothing but a reality show. The only people satisfied with the outcome are the media.

No, that isn’t quite right. It was a reality show but not “nothing but,” because the Anthony trial was the first-ever state-sponsored reality show. The trial served no purpose other than to provide content free of charge to the media. The O. J. Simpson trials weren’t state-sponsored reality shows the way the Anthony trial was, because by the time he went on trial O. J. Simpson was already a celebrity who had made his life a public spectacle from which not only the media but he had profited as well.

But before the circus was staged by the State of Florida the Anthonys weren’t celebrities. Now I fear a new celebrity has been born—Casey Anthony. You don’t have to be beloved to be a celebrity. Casey Anthony is now the celebrity everybody loves to hate. She may need a bodyguard to go out in public, but then so does every celebrity.

When I first saw the movie Dr. Zhivago years ago and then read Pasternak’s novel, it was during the Cold War against Soviet Communism. For me, Dr. Zhivago was little more than a romance and a slightly flawed criticism of the U.S.S.R. I found it difficult to empathize with the tragedy of a wealthy physician’s family who had lost their privacy. That tragedy paled in comparison to the millions of people the Soviets imprisoned, tortured, and killed.

Only now do I understand the horror of Zhivago’s pronouncement that the private life is dead.

Having endured the Communist Revolution in Russia, Pasternak understood full well that the confiscation of private property by the state was the end of all liberty. When the Communists seized everything in the name of the People, they were lying. Property of the People is property of the state. When property belongs to everybody, it belongs to nobody but the state.

When the state can force its way into your home (‘warrantless search and seizure”) it means an end to your privacy—your inner-most thoughts and feelings become public property.

I can hear you now: but the State of Florida had a warrant when it seized all of Casey Anthony’s shoes.

Yes, but when did the State of Florida obtain a warrant to search a young man named Tony Lazaro’s intimate moments with his lover?

When did the State of Florida obtain a warrant to the private life of a woman named Crystal Holloway? Why did she have to appear on world-wide-broadcast TV and reveal the number of “relationships” she was having at a certain time?

The circus that was the Casey Anthony murder trial won’t be the last state-sponsored reality show.  The media has found a way to generate cost-free content: all they have to do is lurk around police stations in Florida waiting for another beautiful, young nobody to step out of the back of a patrol car in handcuffs and follow her inside the jail. When an assistant state’s attorney finds out that the media are interested in her, she’ll find herself brought up on capital murder charges. And then the airwaves will be awash in “Casey Anthony II—The Sequel.”

Florida, wake up! Your “Sunshine Laws” are unconstitutional: It’s unspeakably evil to broadcast videotapes of a prisoner being interrogated, of a family communicating with their daughter in jail, of photographs of the private property of innocent citizens (their closets, their bedrooms, their laundry room, their back yard). It’s wrong to broadcast prospective jurors’ voir dire. It’s wrong to broadcast the gallery and spectators at a trial. It’s wrong to broadcast testimony of law-biding citizens whose only crime was being acquainted with someone charged with murder.

Sidebar: The prosecutors in the Anthony trial were wrong to subpoena Casey Anthony’s friends and force them to testify about their perfectly lawful interactions with her. None of her friends reported any illegal activity by Casey Anthony; none of them reported suspicious behavior; none of them reported anything remotely resembling evidence of “her state of mind at the time of the crime.” If I were them and I could afford it, I would sue the State of Florida for defamation and illegal search and seizure of my private life.

None of us are immune. None of us know when a friend or family member is going to fall afoul of the law. I’d be willing to bet that there’s no one reading this who doesn’t know someone with legal problems: nasty divorces, brutal child-custody battles, IRS audits, property-line disputes, cease-and-desist orders, law suits, drug busts, a DUI, or worse.

What will you do when the state comes knocking on your door with a subpoena?

The Casey Anthony trial is truly the end of the private life in America.

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