Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The prerogative of the harlot; it's not just the press, it's an entire culture

Added to the appalling stories of the exploitation of the victims of crime and terrorist outrages, the latest news concerning the leaking of the medical records of the family of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown  [report here] seem likely to help bring about the spectacular crash of a over-mighty media empire. Not before time, some might say; what goes around comes around.
But before anyone is tempted to feel self-righteous in the  wake of recent events, we need to stop and consider the lengthening list of those who were complicit in the degradation of the British way of life: politicians, their advisors and spokesmen over several generations desperate either to obtain office or hang on to it, convinced of the need to earn the approval of the largest circulation tabloid newspaper and its owner; journalists eager to get on in their chosen profession, without asking too many questions about the methods they were encouraged to employ; and it would now seem, too, members of the police force and other public bodies not averse to taking illegal payments for slipping more than the odd piece of information to unscrupulous reporters. One wonders who will be next.
But the damage is greater than that; the rise of celebrity 'culture' - stoked and encouraged by the media - has done more to blight our national life and destroy previous traditions of civility and loyalty and a certain British social 'gentleness' than anything else. 'Freedom without responsiblity' hasn't been the sole prerogative of the press;  the lurid culture of 'kiss and tell'  stories and tabloid (or broadsheet) revelations has been lapped up by a jaded, voyeuristic and cynical public eager to learn about the frailties, sexual and otherwise, of those in the spotlight.
No one comes out of this with any credit. We really are 'all in this together.'
But where do we go from here? How can what has been lost be restored? The 'public interest' demands that we should at least attempt to do so as a matter of urgency, even if the chances of success seem fairly slim.

"......Ubi societas, ibi ius: every society draws up its own system of justice. Charity goes beyond justice, because to love is to give, to offer what is “mine” to the other; but it never lacks justice, which prompts us to give the other what is “his”, what is due to him by reason of his being or his acting. I cannot “give” what is mine to the other, without first giving him what pertains to him in justice. If we love others with charity, then first of all we are just towards them. Not only is justice not extraneous to charity, not only is it not an alternative or parallel path to charity: justice is inseparable from charity[1], and intrinsic to it. Justice is the primary way of charity or, in Paul VI's words, “the minimum measure” of it[2], an integral part of the love “in deed and in truth” (1 Jn 3:18), to which Saint John exhorts us. On the one hand, charity demands justice: recognition and respect for the legitimate rights of individuals and peoples. It strives to build the earthly city according to law and justice. On the other hand, charity transcends justice and completes it in the logic of giving and forgiving[3]. The earthly city is promoted not merely by relationships of rights and duties, but to an even greater and more fundamental extent by relationships of gratuitousness, mercy and communion. Charity always manifests God's love in human relationships as well, it gives theological and salvific value to all commitment for justice in the world..."
Pope Benedict XVI 
Encyclical Letter: Caritas in Veritate
(Introduction: 6)  Full text here
[b/t to Titusonenine]

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