NEW YORK (AP) — Maybe it's not fair to blame the victim.
A victim like, say, Scarlett Johansson or Christina Aguilera, among the many celebrities whose racy "private" photos have been hacked and posted to the Internet for everyone to ogle. (Now don't pretend such photos have escaped your notice!)
What sort of person would engage in such predatory practices as those with which Christopher Chaney has been charged? The Jacksonville, Fla., man was arrested on Thursday as part of a yearlong investigation into celebrity hacking that authorities dubbed "Operation Hackerazzi." There were more than 50 victims in the case that also included Mila Kunis and Renee Olstead, authorities said.
U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte described those who engage in such activity as "scum" — scum preying upon such victims as Johansson, whose nude pictures were among those Chaney allegedly mined and put online.
On the other hand ... really?! What was going on in Johansson's pretty head when she, like so many, snapped candid self-portraits without figuring out that:
(a) She's a lovely woman.
(b) She's a famous woman.
(c) She's a highly marketable woman whose every move, clothed or unclothed, is of interest to a public salivating for details.
This sort of head-in-the-cloud narcissism (or is it head-in-the-iCloud?) fails to acknowledge that, more and more, people live in glass houses — especially famous people, whose houses are bigger and even more transparent than others.
So is it completely unreasonable to blame their neighbors (and, thanks to the Internet, all of us are neighbors) for taking a peek at otherwise forbidden sights when given the chance?
In simpler times, anyone would be slammed for watching a woman who displayed herself, undraped, in her bedroom window. Maybe this woman had an exhibitionist streak, but good manners dictated that the startled onlooker avert his eyes. To keep staring would brand him a voyeur, even a perv.
And for the certified Peeping Tom in simpler times, a pair of binoculars was needed. Today, all that's required is a search engine and celebrity cyber-hackers to supply it.
In this era of digital snooping, why would any celebrity delude himself or herself that his or her physical seclusion guarantees privacy? However high the walls surrounding one's property and however well-staffed one's security detail, why would any celebrity store nude photos on any electronic device that connects to the Internet — unless, of course, the celeb is a closet exhibitionist and secretly hopes the stuff will go viral.
No one needs to be as brazen a show-off as Anthony Weiner, the New York Congressman who was forced to resign last June after sending sexually explicit messages and photos of himself to women who were following him on Twitter. Even Johansson presumably knows better than to pull that stunt.
But she didn't know better than to leave ripe for the picking those photos of her in her birthday suit, as if to dare some hacker to share them with the world.
Sure, Johansson is one of many victims of cyber-hacking.
Maybe she was also asking for it.
EDITOR'S NOTE — Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore(at)ap.org and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier
- Scarlett Johansson
- Christina Aguilera