Ross Hussey saga is a watershed media moment

Ross Hussey MLA
Ross Hussey MLA

The Ross Hussey expose has been a watershed moment in media privacy.

The Sunday Life cannot have expected the response to the story, of near universal hostility towards the perceived entrapment, and support for Mr Hussey.

People also seemed instinctively to reject the notion that the motivation for the story was his security.

And if someone, somewhere tipped off the paper, I bet most people would view such a person with contempt.

Circulation might have been healthy, with many people reading it out of curiosity and even prurience, but I do not doubt that the revulsion was genuine and widespread.

A very different attitude to privacy and sexual morality prevails to those of a generation ago. It will get more liberal still in the years to come.

The current under 25s have grown up in an age of widespread ‘sexting’.

In the 1980s the most illicit thing that boys had access to was ‘girly’ mags, which showed nude photos. But I don’t doubt that my generation would have delighted in the more explicit streaming of today’s technology.

There will of course be young people today and tomorrow who reject sexting but soon there will be no-one who is surprised by the fact that some people get their kicks exchanging nude images, even if they do not want to engage in it themselves.

The Hussey episode has shown that there is already a consensus view that if that is what consenting adults choose to do, then so be it.

There is particular support for Mr Hussey on the grounds that he is unmarried.

Even if he was in a relationship, most people would probably believe it a matter for him and his partner. And if they do think marriage lessens the right to privacy, it is certainly not thought a public matter if the person is single. Naturally I concur with that view, as a single person in his 40s.

I would imagine that being happily married with children is one of the most sublime existences that a human can experience. But there are consolations to being single.

You are free, if you are so inclined, to browse the online dating world as you please.

Ross Hussey said he was ‘sorry,’ and that was probably wise because it made him seem all the more dignified in the eyes of the many people who thought he had been wronged. But he would also have been justified if, when asked for his comment, he had said: ‘get lost’.

Ben Lowry (@BenLowry2) is News Letter deputy editor

The Sunday World did not pursue Ross Hussey

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