PRIVACY: the state of being free from intrusion or disturbance in one’s personal life or affairs:

I’ve been listening to the debate over the information being available regarding the illness of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  It’s amazing to me how reporters and TV pundits believe that they have a right to know more about what’s happening in the private life of Secretary Clinton.

We have been told for several weeks that she was ill.  We know that she fell and suffered a concussion.  We now know that last weekend they discovered that she had a blood clot on her head (not on her brain!) We even know what medicines are being used to break up the clot.   Reports have indicated that she is doing well and will, in all likelihood, recover fully.   What more do we need to know?

I remember when President Truman was dying that the medical reports kept telling reporters and others about the amount of urine output coming from the President’s bladder.   I was  much younger then, but I was repulsed at the idea that we really needed to know that information.  I remember thinking that there must be some limit to what the public learns about the personal information related to anyone, especially the President of the United States.

Granted, Secretary Clinton is a very public figure.  She is probably the most significant woman in the United States, given her role.    But she is also a person, a wife, a mother, and deserves some sense of dignity when it comes to personal information about her.  I suspect that at some point there will be a press conference which will update the American people on the condition and prognosis of our Secretary of State.   And I also expect that the President knows all that is needed to be known about her situation as the most visible member of his cabinet.  That doesn’t mean that Joe the Plumber needs to know more.

Privacy is a factor that is fast escaping as one of the features of life in this fast-paced life of the 21st century.  Photos of the Duchess of Cambridge sunbathing with her husband were an intrusion.   Intimate photos of celebrities when they are off stage only feed an unhealthy sense of voyeurism on the part of the public.  Leaked information about private conversations between people is more than a violation of law; it is a violation of a principle of discretion.

I love the stories about the promises press photographers made about the physical condition of Franklin D. Roosevelt when he was Governor of New York and President of the United States.  They agreed never to publish photos of him in a wheelchair or in a compromising situation regarding his health.   There is something really grand about that promise and the way in which it was respected for years.

I share the concerns others have about Secretary Clinton.  But I also trust that when there is something we need to know we will be told it.   In the meantime, I’m content to let her and her family have the privacy she has earned.

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Photo credit:  TRUSTe

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