I didn’t want it to be true.
Woods might still be a good guy. When the media began publishing stories from women who were being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for copies of their text messages and voice mails, though, I knew that the rumors about his infidelities were likely to be true.
But finding out the truth behind the rumors fails to answer one more important question: Is it any of my business?
A quick browse through the comboxes of online articles related to Tiger Woods’ “transgressions” is a revealing study of the conflicted soul of the American people with regard to celebrity sin and scandal. Most people with opinions on the matter fall into three categories:
These are the folks who assure us that “everybody does it” and today’s media heyday will soon be a forgettable blip on the enormous radar screen of Woods’ career. He will soothe his wife’s wounded ego with a colossal diamond ring, rearrange their pre-nuptial agreement in her favor by several million dollars, and by next week, we all will have moved on to fresher tales of celebrity indiscretion.
While it’s true that even the most scandalous stories are short-lived in today’s fast-paced media, does that mean we should shrug off the sin of adultery? Even if it were true that “everybody does it,” would that make infidelity any less scandalous and destructive a sin against the family?
The respectful commenters are thoughtful types who point out that we all make mistakes and that every human being has a right to some measure of privacy. The level of scrutiny modern-day celebrities endure is inhuman, they argue. Woods failed to live up to his commitment to his wife — not to us. This is a private matter; we need to back off and leave Tiger to sort out his personal life on his own.
Finally, there are those who argue that what celebrities gain in dollars and renown is their “pay” for giving up any claim to a private life. Woods sold his right to privacy to the highest bidder, they tell us. He has been paid, and it’s silly for him to complain about the deal he made now.
I am not convinced that this is the deal most celebrities make. In fact, in Woods’ case, fame followed his pursuit of golf. Would any of us argue that Woods should have more carefully considered the price of fame before aiming to excel at a sport in which he is exceptionally gifted?
What’s more, I think we all should more carefully consider the “deals” we make when we consume modern media — on our televisions, our phones, and our computer screens.