Revenge porn is about to become a criminal offence, punishable by up to two years in prison. As the Guardian reports, ‘there has been mounting political pressure to outlaw the practice of humiliating former lovers by posting intimate pictures of them online.’
On what basis are photos of Brooks Newmark fair game for the front page of a newspaper, in a world where posting embarrassing private pictures of your former lover on Facebook is about to become a criminal offence? Even without any new law, their publication is a clear breach of copyright, whichlies, in a selfie, with the taker.
The defence, I suspect, will claim ‘public interest’. How so? Zoe Williams, no fan of his, pointed out how little Newmark’s sexual encounters have to do with his office. Is he a hypocrite because he is married? What do we know of his marital situation, or what was known before publication? Did anyone check? His sex life at home may have been non-existent; his playing away might have been by mutual consent. Who are we to judge? Who, still less, is the Sun on Sunday? Or the Daily Mirror before it, casting around for anyone with weaknesses?
As Damian Thompson suggested on Coffee House yesterday, Brooks Newmark seems to have had those in spades. Outwardly successful, he was actually a bloke in his mid 50s who was a bit down with life and wanted a bit of an ego boost. Not everyone deals with that by trading selfies, but is the fact that he did anyone else’s business than his and hers? She might now say bitterly that she thought she was the only girl in his life, but by such things is ‘revenge porn’ defined. For the fact that this publication has sneaked in ahead of the new law by a matter of days, it has destroyed a fragile man’s career.
This piece originally appears on the Spectator Coffee house blog, here.