It’s Time for the KNS to Put Up or Shut Up
The Knoxville News Sentinel editorial board published yet another editorial calling for the results of all TBI investigations to be made part of the public record once the investigation is closed. This is a completely asinine (No Mr Campfield, I'm not calling them asses) idea, and I'll explain why.
Using small words, in deference to the KNS.
Imagine for a moment that you are the target of an investigation. You've done nothing wrong, nothing illegal at least, but circumstance places you squarely in the sights of the TBI, and they run a full investigation into every facet of your life. They look into everything, your finances, your associations, your movements, your habits, hobbies and internet usage, and in general, everything about you. In the end, they find no proof of wrong doing and close the investigation. You are off the hook.
Yet the documents created by that investigation still exist, and if the KNS gets their way, will be public record, available for everyone to see.
Is your life a completely open book? Would you be comfortable with the general public knowing everything about you, your habits, your activities, your finances, your social activities, etc? What about that episode a few years back, you know the one. It would be pretty embarrassing if that became common knowledge. And that place you went that time? What if there were cameras following you? It wasn't illegal, what you did, but it sure could be embarrassing. Don't forget that fight between you and the missus that night. That was ugly! And let's not forget those teenage years!
Heck, how many of you would be comfortable with the list of every website you visited over the last 6 months becoming public record?
Let's get even more basic; how many of you would like it to be public knowledge that you were even investigated in the first place?
Not many of us. We all have things we want to keep quiet; things we don't want to see made public. I have an extensive public life based on this blog; I talk about a lot of things in my life. I have an active Facebook page; I share lots of personal information there. But there are things I don't share; things that don't belong to the public. They are private, and I want to keep them that way.
There's a reason these investigations are not part of the public record. Unless criminal activity is found and prosecuted, the information contained in them is nobody else's business. There is no compelling public interest that overrides our basic right to privacy. Why should your dirty laundry be aired for everybody to see if you've done nothing wrong? Why should our lives be used to satisfy the voyeuristic tendencies of a bunch of self appointed 'guardians of the public trust' or whatever blather journalists use to help themselves sleep at night?
The short answer is that it shouldn't. Records are sealed by default for this very reason, and that's why opening them requires evidence of wrongdoing. It's basic protection of privacy.
Now, if the folks at the KNS have any integrity at all, this should be fairly simple to demonstrate.
I challenge the editorial board of the KNS to put their money where their mouth is.
Pay for and publish, both in print and online, a full background investigation for each member of the editorial board. Include all the typical information pulled in a TBI investigation. Credit history, associations, movements, criminal background, educational records, tax filings, etc. All of it. Addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, charge slips, surveillance reports and so on. Show us you aren't hypocrites; put the information about yourselves into the public record that you are demanding the TBI place into the record about the rest of us.
Put up, or shut up.
Given that the editorial itself was unsigned, I doubt they will have the courage to take up the challenge.
But I can hope.
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