As warships gather in the waters of the Middle East and rampaging mobs storm Western embassies … as the Israeli prime minister continues to goad America into a disastrous confrontation with Iran … as NATO troops are murdered by supposed allies in Afghanistan … as the nightmare of a possible Romney-Ryan election victory hangs over America …
As all of this unfolds in our dangerous world, my thoughts turn to a young couple on a goodwill tour of Southeast Asia (photo above), and the grievous wrong they have suffered at the hands of an unscrupulous photographer and shameless tabloids.
Why? The Kate Middleton scandal is hardly an earth shattering event.
I’ve never been a big fan of British royalty. For one thing, I don’t think the means by which various kings and queens acquired the throne throughout history were remotely admirable. The process reeks of treachery, religious persecution, nepotism and murder. But that’s all in the past. The Queen is the Queen, and she has played the role with dignity and grace.
And, as I grow older, I have grudgingly come to recognize that the monarchy has played a vital role in ensuring the stability not only of Great Britain but also of former members of the British Empire – Canada, Australia, Jamaica ….
There are those who will disagree. They will dredge up old (and not so old) scandals – members of the royal family have been known to behave rather badly from time to time.
But they can have no quarrel with the Duchess of Cambridge. Since marrying Prince William, the former Kate Middleton has transformed herself into a shining role model for young women all over the world. If ever there was a member of the royal family who has minded her p’s and q’s, it’s Kate.
So it is a great injustice for a despicable photographer to sneak pictures of her sunbathing topless at a private home in the South of France. And the editors who published those pictures in their magazines are beneath contempt.
The decision by a French court to demand that Closer – the magazine that originally published the offending pictures – hand over all the photos, including negatives, remove them from the magazine’s web site and never publish them again is a welcome mitigation of the affront. And I applaud the court’s ruling against any further publication of the pictures in France.
But irreparable damage may have been done.
Insultingly intimate photos of the unsuspecting young woman will continue to circulate on the worldwide web, delighting a lot of drooling imbeciles and reminding her of an unguarded moment during a vacation with her husband. And there will be other scandal sheets – like the rag owned by the unspeakable Silvio Berlusconi, who left an indelible stain on the premiership of Italy – eager to boost their circulation at her expense.
No, it’s not earth shattering. But it is a human tragedy of sorts.
It is one more affirmation that any hope of a decent world may indeed be forlorn, that too many humans may be beyond redemption.