Ayn Rand and Privacy in Washington Times

Bob Barr, a former Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia, writes an excellent article about privacy concerns for the Washington Times, and cites Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead as part of his discussion:

The American conception of personal privacy as a right has its origins in the long-held tenet of English jurisprudence that “a man’s house is his castle.” In modern times, the importance of privacy to our very way of life is eloquently captured by philosopher Ayn Rand in her 1943 novel “The Fountainhead,” in which she posits that “privacy” is the very bedrock of modern civilization. While not a purely American concept, the value of privacy has taken root in our society more than any other. Indeed, it is enshrined in the Fourth Amendment to our Constitution ? the government cannot invade our persons, homes or papers to gather evidence against us without a good reason for doing so; private lives are, well, private.
In the olden days, this actually meant something. People were outraged when someone’s laundry, be it clean or dirty, was aired publicly without a good reason. Instinctively, Americans distrusted anything that scrutinized their daily activities. Gossip, though practiced quietly, was a bad word.

He contrasts this with today’s infatuation with reality television, and notes that if we lose our appreciation for privacy, we’ll likely lose our rights to it as well. The full article is worth reading.