Most folks are familiar with the phrase: “You have the right to remain silent.” It is the beginning of the Miranda Warning, and is derived from a person a Federal judge ordered released because the arresting police did not inform him of his right.
He walked because he talked, incriminating himself, so his conviction was overturned. In the process this criminal became almost immortal.
Another figure of speech is “public figure.” How this is defined and who determines who is one has become a vexing issue especially in terms of the relationship between media and the public.
Do we really have a right to remain silent? In the legal sense one does appear to have a right to protection from self-incriminating statements. However, in a p.r./press sense it appears NOT to be the reality.
Think about the few professional athletes who have tried to protect privacy in their lives. To a person, they are crucified by a media which deems them public figures because of their exploits on a court, or a football field or a baseball diamond. Woe to the athlete who naively thinks what he does on the field speaks for itself. It makes no difference if he or she is shy and modest or hasn’t ever spoken to the media.
Somehow, if they don’t respond to some insensitive reporter’s inane questions they instantly become arrogant, aloof jerks who don’t understand the media has a job to do and the star has an obligation to satisfy the insatiable urge of fans to know everything about them, from the color of their underwear to what they eat for breakfast. They are, after all, public figures. But are they? Just what does it take to be deemed a public figure? (more…)