The father of Bar Refaeli, the stunning Israeli supermodel, was convicted Thursday in Israeli court of “malicious damage” stemming from an incident in 2007.
For those of you not following Israeli news, here’s the quick version of what happened:
- Bar is followed by paparazzi while driving to her family’s house near Tel Aviv in Israel.
- She calls her dad, Rafi, to complain that the paparazzi is harassing her.
- When she gets to the house, Rafi comes outside and finds his daughter in tears.
- Rafi then allegedly confronts a photographer, pours water on his camera and damages his motorcycle.
- Charges are pressed, and last week Rafi is convicted of damaging the camera and motorcycle, but acquitted on an assault charge.
As a journalist, I’m certainly in favor of the protection of journalists. But I’m hard pressed to find comfort in a father getting prosecuted for protecting his daughter from an aggressive photographer.
Paparazzi does fuel the careers of many celebrities. (Where would Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton be without cameras following their every move?) Too often however, the hounding of celebrities, or semi-celebrities, crosses a line.
The trouble is that there’s no good solution to the paparazzi problem. You can’t restrict “paparazzi” while allowing a free press. Where do you draw the line between “paparazzi” and “photojournalists?”
Yes, it’s hard to see any true underlying journalism in the harassment of an Israeli supermodel driving home. But if you make laws against “bad journalism,” that means someone has to judge the journalism.
Once you start judging and restricting journalism, you go down a slippery slope leading to all sorts of restrictions on the free press.
Taking pictures of police attacking protesters could be considered “sensationalism,” and be shut down.
The same issue has come up with free speech: Obviously some speech–think Westboro Baptist Church–is vile and nothing we feel good about protecting. But since we know that nobody can objectively be the judge of what speech is “good” and what is “bad,” we must essentially allow all speech.
But even if we can’t restrict “bad” journalism, we should at least turn a blind eye to the breaking of paparazzi cameras. That is, when they decide to harass subjects and their families.
The paparazzi can consider it an occupational risk to know they may not always have legal recourse when they’re confronted by angry subjects.
Maybe that’ll help them learn to not be so aggressive–at least not to beautiful women who appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated in bikinis.
Kanye West, I care less about…
Jerusalem Post: Refaeli’s dad acquitted of assault
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