Monday, February 18

Second Take: Celebrity privacy must be respected when no public statements are made

After Kim Kardashian West was robbed of $9 million worth of jewelry at a Parisian hotel on Oct. 3, the media was quick to speculate on the legitimacy of the crime. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

After Kim Kardashian West was robbed of $9 million worth of jewelry at a Parisian hotel on Oct. 3, the media was quick to speculate on the legitimacy of the crime. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

The world was quick to judge Kim Kardashian West after she was robbed of nearly $9 million worth of jewelry in an upscale hotel in Paris, on Oct. 3.

A day after the robbery, Fox News Entertainment published the article “Kim Kardashian robbery story raises some eyebrows,” which posited the possibility of Kardashian West’s robbery being a publicity stunt. Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, echoing the sentiments of many, said, “You cannot display your wealth and then be surprised that some people want to share it with you.”

Kardashian West had not commented on social media, released a statement or spoken to any publication about her experience of the robbery, as of Monday, clearly indicating her desire to keep the matter private. Until Kardashian West responds to the criticisms directed toward her, the media should refrain from condemning her for a matter she has kept out of public purview.

To be fair, the career success of Kardashian West largely depends on hype. She profits from the broadcasting of her private life in the show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and subsequent spin-offs. She, of anyone, should understand the potential occupational hazards of fame.

But the robbery was not a part of a reality television show. The events surrounding it are part of an ongoing private investigation, and thus should be shielded from media speculation.

[Related: Tabloid junkies should consider privacy]

Kardashian West has not consented to the media frenzy nor to the commoditization of her experience to satisfy entertainment consumption. Until she releases a statement on the distressing experience and demonstrates an ability to comment on the allegations made against her, the public should leave this woman alone.

Some reporters have come to Kardashian West’s defense. Rolling Stone reporter Janelle Harris began her story on Kardashian West’s robbery by stating, “Kim Kardashian is a human being with human emotions.”

In doing so, Harris reminded seasoned opinion writers, tabloid consumers and trolls on the internet that Kardashian West is not just her brand, which represents the problem of a celebrity culture in which people feel entitled to serve as judge, jury and executioner of celebrity reputations. As a wife and mother of two children who experienced an armed robbery in a Parisian hotel, Kardashian West should be given a break.

Twitter users have accused Kardashian West of pulling a Ryan Lochte, implying that her robbery was inconsequential in the grander scheme of things or, worse, that she deserved or planned it. In the case of Lochte, media scrutiny was justified. He shared the details of his night on the town with media, and publicized his apology after Brazilian authorities determined his testimony to be untrue.

But Kardashian West has not willingly divulged her story to the press or internet, as Lochte did; therefore, it is unfair for the media to attack her as they did the Olympic swimmer.

The details of a messy custody battle (Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt) or divorce (Amber Heard and Johnny Depp), decisions made in private spaces (Tom Brady or Orlando Bloom) and traumatic experiences as victims of crimes (Kardashian West) should remain off limits to public condemnation, until the celebrity at question tells his or her side of the story. Kim Kardashian West’s fame alone does not entitle society to shame her.

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