Saturday 7 March 2009

Jade Goody - Saint or Sinner?

Last week my Rabbi gave a very interesting sermon entitled “Reality TV vs. The Dignity of Privacy” in which he discussed the fate of Jade Goody.

I am probably one of only a small number of people who has never watched an episode of Big Brother, and the whole concept of “Reality TV” is an anathema to me, but of course it is impossible not to know of the exploits of Jade Goody as they have been widely reported in every national newspaper.

Many people accuse her of being stupid. I think she is poorly educated, which is not the same thing. Her drug addict and habitual criminal father was an appalling role model and she has had little, if any, moral guidance throughout her very short life.

Some people accuse her of prostituting herself in her final days, but how many of us would have the courage to do what she is doing, to ensure that her children get a better deal in life than she did? In an interview she said her greatest fear was that her children would grow up and not remember her. Isn’t that a fear which every parent has?

In the sermon, my Rabbi asked: “Why must the most private and intimate parts of her life be exposed in such a crass way? Is nothing sacred? Is nothing private? Is nothing off limits?”

I believe the reason we are evolving into a voyeuristic society is due to the growing power of the state and its unremitting intrusion into every aspect of our everyday lives.

You cannot walk down the road without your image being captured on CCTV. Our passports are to become biometric containing numerous personal identifiers. We will soon have to carry ID cards. The NHS is to be given powers to sell patient information to drug companies. Councils are to be given powers to inspect your property without your consent and to increase your council tax if you have carried out improvements.

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) was designed as an anti terrorism measure but is used by some public authorities to snoop on residents to see what is in their wheelie bins.

Even supermarkets keep track of our buying habits through their loyalty card schemes, yet we have accepted all of these intrusions with barely a murmur of discontent.

We have allowed the state and big business not only to control every aspect of our lives, from cradle to grave, but to film it as well. It is no wonder that for a younger generation, Reality TV is perfectly normal. For them, the concept of privacy no longer exists. Indeed, many have never known it.

Until we dismantle this growing Nanny State and reassert our rights as individuals to control our own lives, there will be many other Jade Goodys splashed across our TV screens in the future.

The one positive aspect of this tragedy is that doctors report a marked increase in the number of women having smear tests. Jade Goody’s lifestyle may seem vulgar to many, but her actions as she faces her premature death will save countless other lives. For that alone, she should receive a blessing from God.

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