This may be the dumbest remark I’ve ever seen:
It’s easy to see why that remark is so stupid. All you have to do is realize if your age is an even number, I don’t want you to read this post. And because I don’t want you to read it, you have no right to keep reading. Go away!
Are you still reading? Drats. I guess me not wanting people to look at something is irrelevant to whether or not they have the right to. They aren’t going to get arrested for reading this post. I can’t sue them for looking at things I post.
And that’s a good thing. I get it must be frustrating for the celebrities who recently had nude pictures of themselves leaked onto the internet. I wouldn’t have leaked those images. I wish whoever leaked them hadn’t. I’d be happy if whoever did it went to jail for doing it (though I don’t know if the law allows for that), but nobody deserves criticism for looking at material available in the public realm.
It doesn’t matter if Jennifer Lawrence wishes people wouldn’t look at her nude pictures. What she wants is irrelevant. Everyone has the right to look at anything available in the public realm.
But it’s not just a matter of what’s in the public realm. Suppose a woman feels sexy and takes a picture for her boyfriend. I have no right to steal her phone and look at the picture. However, if she sends me that picture by mistake, I have every right to look at it. Similarly, you may not want me to see you walking around your house naked, but if you forget to close your blinds, I can look in your window as I walk down the road.
The moment anything is distributed to another person, that person has the right to look at it. The moment anything is made available in the public realm, everyone has the right to look at it. Pictures, videos, words. It doesn’t matter. Nobody gets to restrict who sees things simply by wishing people wouldn’t look.
That’s why I’m not in jail. I’m sure John Cook, of Skeptical Science fame, didn’t want me to see this image he and his pals created of him:
Why did they dress Cook up as a Nazi? I don’t know. I don’t know why they created this image portraying their group as Nazis (note how they even replaced the Swastikas with their own logo):
But I’m sure they didn’t want me to see it either.
Their desires are irrelevant though. They posted these images (and many more) in a location that was publicly accessible. That means the images were in the public realm. Everyone had every right to look at the images.
In the same way, Cook made secret data for his infamous “97% consensus on global warming” paper available in a publicly accessible location. I found it. Was that wrong of me? No! The fact I knew Cook wouldn’t want me to look at the data is irrelevant to whether or not I had the right to look at it. The Skeptical Science group disagrees, saying things like:
The notable part here is that you need authorization from the owner to access data. Public statements were already present that certain data wouldn’t be accessible to the public…. Brandon has written about how he knew that the data he obtained wasn’t meant to be publicly accessible. Which makes it unauthorized access what he did.
Calling for me to be prosecuted for illegal activities based largely upon the same position Penn Julliette holds – that you can only look at something if the owner wants you to. Not only did they want me prosecuted, they even had a lawyer send me a threatening letter telling me not to release their secret data. Or the threatening letter. You see, the letter said (full copy available here:
According to Penn’s view, that’s perfectly reasonable. According to him, if people don’t want anyone to see a threatening letter they send you, you can’t show it to anyone. According to him, people can threaten you, and you may have to keep their threats secret even after you’ve been sued and thrown in jail.
It’s mind-bogglingly stupid. We can’t have people arrested for looking at things in the public realm. More generally, we can’t stop people from doing things simply because we wish they wouldn’t.
At least, I don’t think we can. If I’m wrong, let me know. I’ll make sure to report half the people reading this post to the police.