Tiger Woods hands out injunctions

Tiger swings Tiger "suddenly it's all gone so terribly wrong" Woods has injuncted the British press to stop talking about his love life.

So good job – that's that barn door shut.  But the horse had not only already bolted, it had slipped out of town and is living under an assumed identity in Walton-on-the-Naze.

First of all, what real good could it possibly do, even from his perspective?  Does he think we won't hear the scurrilous rumours anyway?  Does he think that the commentary online, shorn of the relatively restraining influence of mainstream commentary, will be less tawdry and sensationalist?

Secondly, we've written before about restraining the press from reporting things, in the Carter Ruck context.- about how Britain's libel laws are harming journalism.  Here's it's slightly different, admittedly, as what's being injuncted is titillating rather than serious.  but there's an important point about the nature of freedom of speech to be made, and furthermore where this story lies on the titillating / serious scale is a judgment that I have made.  As long as you're happy having what constitutes your news decided for you by me, that's fine.  If you're not, then it's probably not fine.  The fact that I don't care about the goings-on in the life of Tiger "suddenly it's all gone so terribly wrong" Woods hardly means that nobody does, does it?  Nor are they necessarily interested in the story only from a cheap and titillating perspective.

Because there are people who will genuinely wish to know about his life, viewing him as an erstwhile role model they had looked up to, and viewing his pecadilloes, if true, as being symptoms of rank hypocrisy which rob him of that status.  His carefully manufactured, wholesome image might be thought to be punctured by these "revelations" and a discussion of such things interests some people.  Why shouldn't they be able to discuss them?  He chose to live in this way when it raked in millions – they might say – why can't we discuss it now that it's not quite so rosy? 

The extent to which serious journalism seeps into info-tainment is also something one should consider.  Scurrilous suggestions about Michael Jackson eventually led to criminal trial processes (albeit not a conviction, a fact perhaps connected with large out-of-court settlements).  Cheap slurs against Jeremy Thorpe, former leader of the Liberal Party, led to his trial for attempted murder.  John Profumo and Christine Keeler.  Multiple celebrities and drug trials/convictions: Robert Downey Junior. Pete Doherty. Matthew McConaughey.  And so on.  Viewed from that perspective, it is very hard to decide where "serious" journalism ends and trash begins.

All in all – my instinct is against any incursion of free speech.  Whilst I realise and appreciate that that right is not absolute, it is nevertheless very important in a free society and the threshold must be set very high to breach it.  Tiger "suddenly it's all gone so terribly wrong" Woods' I don't like the way they're talking about me hardly comes near satisfying that.

By Alex Deane

Posted by on Dec 11, 2009 in Legal Action | One Comment

1 Comment

  1. Biffo
    12th December 2009

    Perhaps if Tiger “suddenly it’s all gone so terribly wrong” Woods’ doesn’t like the things people are saying about him he needs to look at what is the cause of peoples’ comments? In this case, it appears to be his own (mis)behaviour. I usually consider ‘playing away from home’ to be a private matter involving only the family(ies) of all protagonists. However, this case is different inasmuch as Mr Woods has set himself up a a role manner for young people. He has carefully built and nurtured a public persona as a clean living, family loving man, to be seen as an example to everybody. The fact that this image may be based on a pack of lies, stinks of hypocrisy & would make him unsuitable as a role model of any sort. Therefore, IMO, it is in the public interest that the facts of the case should be made public & the accusations & rumours either proved or disproved. If true, his current sponsors may feel the need to finish his sponsorship if false, he shouldn’t need time away from the game. Whatever the truth is, he has only harmed himself & his image further by taking an indefinite leave of absence & applying for injunctions – that merely insinuates that there is a lot more dirt hanging around & that he has a lot more to hide,