A Quote To Bear

 

In the old days men had the rack. Now they have the press. That is an improvement, certainly. But still it is very bad and wrong, and demoralising. The tyranny that it proposes to exercise over peoples’ private lives seems to be quite extraordinary. The fact is that the public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything except what is worth knowing. Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesmanlike habits, supplies their demands…and what aggravates the mischief is that the journalists who are most to blame are not the amusing journalists who write for what are called Society papers. The harm is done by the serious, thoughtful, earnest journalists who solemnly, as they are doing at present, will drag before the eyes of the public some incident in the private life of a great statesman, of a man who is the leader of political thought as he is a creator of political force, and invite the public to discuss the incident, to exercise authority in the matter, to give their views, and not merely to give their views, but to carry them into action, to dictate to the man on all other points, to dictate to his party, to dictate to his country; in fact, to make themselves ridiculous, offensive, and harmful. The private lives of men and women should not be told to the public. The public have nothing to do with them at all.

 

Oscar Wilde
extract from The Soul of Man Under Socialism, circa 1895

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