Tag Archive | "above suspicion"

The Usual Suspects

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The adage “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion” is an expression asserting that individuals in lofty positions need not only be pure in actuality, but also in the common perception.  While the state of being “above suspicion” may have been possible in simpler days gone by, it is a virtual impossibility today – just ask celebrities including Tiger Woods, Lindsey Lohan, or Paris Hilton, or politicians such as Bill Clinton or Mark Sanford.


With advanced technology, our lives have never been so much a matter of record as they are today.  Our births, medical histories, education, career progression, purchases, and income data are all a part of one informational repository or another.  Although the data may be widely dispersed, how long will it be before all of that information will be compiled, categorized, and classified in one master record of each of our lives?  Nor is privacy guaranteed even in our bedrooms – just ask the Rutgers University student recently videoed having sex in his dorm room on a camera hidden by fellow students.


The English novelist and satirist William Makepeace Thackeray advanced the notion that “there’s a skeleton in every closet;” that is, each of us, no matter how well he or she maintains appearances, has a well-hidden secret.  And, as technological advances make our lives digital “open books,” all of our hidden secrets are becoming increasingly discoverable.


While the numbers of those interested in discovering the secrets of the common person are more limited, those in the public eye are the continual target of sleuthing activities by professional or political adversaries, legitimate journalists, gossip columnists, and an ever more inquisitive public.  With the juicy details only mouse clicks away, even the most deeply buried secrets will ultimately reveal themselves to their dogged investigators.


Thus, in today’s society and that of the foreseeable future, it appears that Caesar would never marry for fear that his wife – like virtually anyone and everyone – could not remain “above suspicion.”  And, if we have come to a point at which individual freedoms and dignity are bounded by the perceptions of a fickle public, it is a sad commentary on the erosion of personal rights of privacy.  With little or no privacy, we all become the “usual suspects.”

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