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Should incriminating videos be made public?

By G. Michael Dobbs
Managing Editor
So, when is aiming that camera phone at someone not a good idea?
Last week a video of abc40 news anchor and reporter Paul Mueller made its way to YouTube and resulted in Mueller's resignation from that station.
I don't know Mueller. I'm friendly with some of the television reporters, but he was one I had never run across. I have no axe to grind here.
The video was one taken at a local charity event where he was serving as the emcee. I watched it before it was taken down and it showed him acting in a curious manner to say the least.
Mueller, who didn't speak to local media, did tell the Boston Herald "'It's [alcohol abuse] something I'm going to seek treatment for. I don't know if I'll ever return to the field of television news, because I may have ruined my career,' Mueller, 37, said yesterday. 'I've always loved television news. I've always put that at the forefront of whatever I did in my life. However, alcohol is a problem.'"
I find it fascinating Mueller shared this information with the Boston Herald, rather than the local media of which he was a part and where the incident took place. I certainly wish him luck with his recovery.
With the advent of video recorders in cell phones and pint-sized flip cameras, any celebrity doing anything anywhere is the potential subject of random video that will find its way to the Web. Actually, any of us could find ourselves going viral.
Ace Reminder Publications Account Manager Matt Mahaney, newshound Chris Maza and I were talking about this incident and Mahaney voiced a strong opinion that the video shouldn't have been taken, much less posted on YouTube.
Maza and I were both on the opposite side of the issue. One could argue that Mueller was a public person and his right to privacy was diminished because of that status.
Naturally, the discussion led me to think about the nature of privacy. From a legal point of view, privacy for an individual may not have changed all that much — Patriot Act, excluded — but from a social standard, privacy has eroded.
So, is it wrong to whip out a video recorder at a private event when a local celeb of sorts is behaving oddly? Or just buying groceries? If Uncle Fred has one beer too many at a summer picnic and falls off his chair, should that be posted on the Web for all to see? Are all of us — and what we do — simply fodder for the Web?
I'd like to know what you think.
***

I need to take some relief every now and then from what I see as the madness of the world — Donald Trump as a Republican candidate for president, really? — and our pets provide important solace.
It's not just that our cats and Lucky the Wonder Bichon offer therapy with their play and affection. They also mystify.
Life is too short not to be mystified every now and then and our population of pets frequently provides behaviors that have me scratching my head.
Lucky the Wonder Bichon has a nightly ritual. He must retrieve at least one the socks I had worn that day and "bury" it. He'll take the sock and find a place behind a couch cushion or under a pillow on the bed. Sometimes he agonizes over where to put the sock and runs rather frantically from room to room looking for an appropriate place.
I didn't teach him that. Neither did my wife. After all, we'd rather my dirty socks wind up in the hamper rather than other places.
I often wonder if he needs to take so many naps as a way to relax from the hard work of keeping us amused.
Hey, agree with me? Disagree? Drop me a line at news@thereminder.com or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper..
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