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Candid cameras


Adele Elliott



Once, there was a time when most people had a bit of anonymity. Personal lives were just that -- personal. It did not matter if you were rich and famous or an ordinary sort. Romantic affairs were kept secret, asides "off the record" were never revealed, and our private history remained in the closet, where it belonged. 


Some knowledge was considered a "gentleman's agreement" of silence. The press looked the other way about John F. Kennedy's (and Jackie Kennedy's) many affairs while he was in the White House. They seldom made the news. Franklin D. Roosevelt was never photographed in his wheelchair. He wanted to be perceived as a robust and healthy man, capable of leading the country out of the Depression. The press was in on that charade. 


But then came the video camera, and soon this was not a technology for the media alone; everyone had one. And boy, do we use them. Privacy is no longer sacred. Probably because we have dumbed down and are more interested in lurid sound bytes and embarrassing photos than in real news. Of course, the knowledge that rags like The National Enquirer and those of their ilk pay big bucks for a scandalous snippet feeds this beast. 


No one in our area wants to be photographed on the cover of one local weekly in handcuffs, shirtless, and slightly bloody. But we certainly want to see who has been snapped in that condition. 


Big news this week was that publications in multiple countries had topless photos of Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, wife of heir to the throne of England. Some have planned to publish them, some will do so in the next few days, and a few have chosen not to print them. The Queen is mortified! It is all so disrespectful. 


This is an entirely different reaction than Buckingham Palace had to the top (and bottomless!) photos of a drunken Prince Harry, frolicking in Vegas with call girls. Those were published all over the world. Oh well, boys will be boys. But Catherine, she is quite a different story. 


I hate to blame the victim. But really, Catherine. Don't you know better than to sunbathe topless? There is such a thing as a long-range lens. This is the job you signed on for. Smile pretty for the camera and do not ever do anything that will embarrass England. The paparazzi made your mother-in-law's life miserable. Have you learned nothing from that? 


Our candidates for president should be more savvy than a royal 20-something, However, they are not. 


At a fundraiser in Los Angeles, Mitt Romney said, " ... there are 47 percent who are ... dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it." It was recorded on video. 


As it turns out, the 47 percent is primarily made up of the elderly, our troops, those too ill to work -- the list goes on. I'll bet Mitt wishes he could take that one back. 


In Boca Raton, Fla., Mitt Romney's videotaped remarks to a roomful of donors the GOP presidential candidate appears to indicate that he wishes he were Latino because he thinks it would be "helpful" to his quest and give him a "better shot" at the presidency. 


"My dad ... was the governor of Michigan and was the head of a car company. But he was born in Mexico ... and had he been born of Mexican parents, I'd have a better shot at winning this." He said this "jokingly," but it backfired. It was viewed as condescending by U.S. Latinos. 


President Obama, too, got into a bit of trouble when his comment that, " ... you didn't build this ..." was taken out of context and used against him. 


Not only must those in the public eye be very careful about what they say, they must also think about how every word will be interpreted or misinterpreted. 


Romney will not fare well with animal lovers who vote with their hearts. Not only are they angry about the family pet being crated and strapped to the top of a speeding car, but the case against Ann Romney for the sale of a crippled horse is damning. 


In 2008, she sold a horse named "Super Hit" for $125,000. He had been injected with butorphanol, delomidine, romifidine, and xylatine at the time of his sale, according to court documents. This was to mask his injuries. In the suit against Mrs. Romney, an expert testified: "In my 38 years of practice, I have never come across a drug-screen such as this, where the horse has been administered so many different medications at the same time." 


These are the sort of nasty little secrets that can be poison to a candidate. 


Of course, not only those in the public eye should be wary. Big Brother is less of a threat to us than little locals with a camera. But a danger, nonetheless. 


So, this is my message: have fun at all the clubs and concerts in the Golden Triangle, but mind your "Ps & Qs," just like your mama taught you. Keep your clothes on. And, by all means, please be kind to animals. You never know who is recording your every move.


Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.


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