The180

Even public figures deserve some privacy

This season, the CFL introduced live microphones as part of their broadcasts on TSN. But Edmonton coach Jason Maas, refused an order to go live once, and protested a second time by wearing a mic, but not saying much. For that, columnist Paula Simons hails Jason Maas a hero in the cause of privacy.
Donald Trump enters the Republican National Convention in July, 2016. (C-SPAN)

Should we be allowed to hear everything a public figure says? 

Paula Simons doesn't think so. Not if that public figure is CFL coach Jason Maas, and not even if it's Donald Trump. 

This season, the CFL introduced live microphones as part of its broadcasts. The first time he was asked to wear a mic during a game, Maas refused - and was fined $15,000. The second time, he agreed: but then gave all of the speaking parts of his job to other coaches, so the team's plays wouldn't be made public. 

Jason Maas, head coach of Edmonton's CFL team, is not a fan of rules that force coaches and players to wear live microphone during game broadcasts. (John Ulan/The Canadian Press)

And for that, Simons called Maas her hero

"I thought there was something quite charming in his refusal to give in to this social pressure, to let our lives be recorded voyeuristically for everybody's pleasure...Imagine how inhibiting it would be to know that, if you made an emotional ejaculation, that it might be something that would embarrass you, and your team, and your family, and then you would have to be self-censoring and self-conscious about that, while you really need to be immersing yourself in the game of football." 

I thought there was something quite charming in his refusal to give in to this social pressure, to let our lives be recorded voyeuristically for everybody's pleasure.- Paula Simons, Edmonton Journal

There are instances, of course, when openness and transparency are important, says Simons: in courtrooms, for example, and city councils and school boards. 

But even those who live public lives, who seek power, deserve some expectation of privacy. 

Take Donald Trump's caught-on-mic comments, for example. Yes, he's used to microphones, and was working in TV, and should have known better. But Simons points out he also said things that only shored up what was already known about him. 

"As someone who was appalled by Donald Trump's campaign, I was also uncomfortable with the fact that that leaked tape became such a critical turning point in the election campaign....That was a conversation, from many years ago, that he didn't think was being part of the public realm." 

As someone who was appalled by Donald Trump's campaign, I was also uncomfortable with the fact that that leaked tape became such a critical turning point in the election campaign.- Paula Simons

"If we live in a post-privacy world, where we say everything that we say in our private lives, everything that we say in the workplace, if you're Jason Maas, in the heat of a football battle, that the public has some kind of right to know everything we say and do, I think we're going to put ourselves in a position that many of us are going to find will come back to bite us on the tuchas."

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