TMZ Spreads Sad Rihanna Photos

Feb. 19, 2009
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I still vividly remember the time a decade ago when some friends accidentally pulled up a grotesque photo of the Chris Farley's corpse when doing an innocuous web search for the comedian. It was the day I realized that the Internet is fundamentally evil.

It's in the spirit of of that crime scene photo that yesterday TMZ, a tabloid site notable for how it covers celebrities not just with snark but utter disdain, published a picture apparently of Rihanna's battered face. Within hours, it was all over the Internet.

Nevermind that TMZ didn't have authorization to use the photo: The site has crossed a line. For better or worse, we've accepted that tabloid sites invade the privacy of celebrities, but this time out they've violated the rights of an alleged domestic-abuse victim. As if Rihanna's bruised, ­bloodied face weren't tragic enough, it's now on display for the world to see.

Gawker defended its re-publication of the TMZ photos:

The Rihanna story has always been about an unfortunately common crime involving two famous people and a high-profile event. This has given rise to a full spectrum of speculation about the case. Though unsettling, the evidence of Rihanna's injuries settles at least some of that guessing game.

One result of this: underlining the seriousness of an attack that many people have sought to minimize.

I take some satisfaction knowing that these photos likely spell the end of Chris Brown's career, but that still doesn't justify them. The release of these photos was a violation nearly as humiliating as the one Rihanna has already suffered. No victim, famous or otherwise, deserves this.­

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