Guarding Life's Dark Secrets: Legal and Social Controls over Reputation, Propriety, and Privacy / Edition 1 available in Hardcover
Guarding Life's Dark Secrets tells the story of an intriguing aspect of the social and legal culture in the United States, the construction and destruction of a network of doctrines designed to protect reputation. The strict and unbending rules of decency and propriety of the nineteenth century, especially concerning sexual behavior, paradoxically provided ways to protect and shield respectable men and women who deviated from the official norms. This "Victorian compromise," which created an important zone of privacy, first came under attack from moralists for its tolerance of sin. During the second half of the twentieth century, the old structure was largely dismantled by an increasingly permissive society.
Rich with anecdotes, Friedman's account draws us into the present. The Supreme Court has interpreted the Constitution to include a right of privacy, which has given ordinary people increased freedom, especially in matters of sex, reproduction, and choice of intimate partners. The elite, however, no longer have the freedom they once had to violate decency rules with impunity. Although public figures may have lost some of their privacy rights, ordinary people have gained more privacy, greater leeway, and broader choices. These gains, however, are now under threat as technology transforms the modern world into a world of surveillance.
|Publisher:||Stanford University Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Lawrence M. Friedman is Marion Rice Kirkwood Professor of Law at Stanford Law School. His books include Private Lives: Families, Individuals, and the Law (2005), American Law in the Twentieth Century (2004), and Legal Culture in the Age of Globalization (2003).
Table of Contents
The General Argument 1
Status and Mobility in the Nineteenth Century 22
Sticks and Stones: The Law of Defamation 41
The Victorian Compromise: Slippage and Control in the Moral Laws 63
The Anatomy of Blackmail 81
Good Women, Bad Women: Seduction, Breach of Promise, and Related Matters 101
Censorship: Its Rise and Fall 140
Into the Twentieth Century 175
Privacy and Reputation in the Late Twentieth Century 213
Defamation in Contemporary Times 235
A Summing Up-And a Cautious Look at the Future 257