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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: February 26, 2009 @ 7:40 pm

    Jade Goody and the Death of Privacy

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    As a former cancer patient,  now happily in possession of a clean bill of health, I have to say I find the whole Jade Goody melodrama quite disturbing. Obviously one has to feel great human sympathy for someone in her predicament but . . . whatever happened to dignity?The involvement of Max Clifford is never particularly heartening and, of course, the tabloids have lapped up the whole thing and fed it onto their readers.

    There was a time when terminal illness was treated with a gravity and decorum that reflected a society which was, for all its faults, essentially at peace with itself in respect to the eternal verities of life and death.

    But we have probably witnessed the Death of Privacy in our own time.

    Another extraordinary episode was this week’s case involving the expectant father who filmed his partner’s Caesarean section in the delivery room. Click here to read about it.

    He was asked by the midwife to pause from filming for a moment. This spoiled the continuity of his narrative so what does the gentleman do? Why, he sues of course.

    The case was thrown out, leaving him to pay the costs. The Pat Kenny radio show invited him on for an interview.

    Why he was allowed to film the delivery in the first place is a mystery to me. Is this normal practice nowadays?

    I had the privilege to attend the births of my children but cannot imagine that I would have been allowed bring a camcorder. Surely the staff are entitled to privacy at their place of work?

    The idea of taking a case against the caring midwife who saw your baby safely into the world beggars belief. I cannot help wondering what advice was given to the gentleman about the prospects of winning his action.

     O brave new world!

    • Paul says:


      Is it a case of birth of ultimate personal liberty and ownership as opposed to death of privacy?

      My cancer, so I can publicise it if I like. My baby and film so I have a right to film it entirely without disruption. I wonder if he did a Patrick Bateman, sorry, Christian Bale, on it.

      If Mr. Kenny’s attempt to interview Pete Doherty is any barometer, he probably would have asked questoins about camcorder equipment.

    • Clare says:

      I agree on the gall of the father suing the midwife who delivered his healthy baby. I was listening to it thinking it was a spoof. Listening to it, I was sure that it was a spoof. What a crazy world.

      On Jade, I agree that the death of privacy is disturbing. I think though, that on discovering that the cancer was terminal, she had a number of options. She chose to die publically, and while it definitely wouldn’t be my choice, I can only feel compassion for her. Hope your health bill remains clear.

    • Deaglán says:

      Thanks for the good wishes, Clare. It would be nice if Jade had a miracle cure but even Max Clifford could hardly arrange that!

    • Merry Kelly says:

      Regarding Jade’s “coming out” on her cancer condition.. some people hide their diseases, others find relief in talking about it…just different strokes….but a positive side-effect to her going public stirred hundreds of women to go and have cervical pap tests done, no doubt saving many lives…so thank you, Jade.

    • Deaglán says:

      Yes, I have to concede that anything which helps save lives is a positive development. But I can’t help feeling at the same time that the whole issue of serious illness is being cheapened for the purpose of making money.

      As Jade apparently gets closer and closer to death, people seem to be horrified at the vulgarity of the tabloid melodrama and yet transfixed at the same time because, after all, this is a human being who is passing through the door of eternity and demands our sympathy as the fateful hour draws near. One would need to have a heart of stone not to be moved in some way and I cannot help being reminded of Shakespeare’s lines: “Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it; he died as one that had been studied in his death to throw away the dearest thing he owed, as ‘t were a careless trifle”

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