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Chautauqua Preview: The Ethics of Privacy


The Chautauqua Institution has scored quite a coup for week three of the summer season.  Former New York Times editor Jill Abramson will speak at the Amphitheater Wednesday morning as part of this week's theme, "The Ethics of Privacy." 

Abramson has made just a handful of public appearances since her dismissal as Times editor in May.  The most publicized one was the commencement address she delivered at Wake Forest University.  Abramson sent a message to the graduates about overcoming obstacles.

"I'm talking to anyone who has been dumped, who has not gotten the job they really wanted, you know the sting of losing," Abramson said.  "When that happens, show what you are made of."

At Chautauqua, Abramson will offer her perspective on the role of the media in covering privacy issues, such as the ones brought to light last year by Edward Snowden, and the editorial decisions made about what and when to print.

The issue of privacy is especially timely.  There are now cameras recording our every move at work, at stores and on city streets.  Marketers gather data about us every time we use a keycard at the checkout.  And the sites we visit on our computers, tablets and mobile phones are tracked.  Chautauqua President Tom Becker says, no doubt, there's been an erosion of our personal privacy.

"You may want to consider where privacy exists anymore," Becker said.

Becker says privacy is especially at issue when it comes to our children.

"(With) the influx of technology that seems to have (kids) sharing intimacies at such an early age, what's the consequence, not only for those kids, but for the society that they become adults in," Becker said.  "What is the ethic of all of this?"

Amanda Lenhart who studies teens and technology at the Pew Research Center will address this Thursday morning at the Amphitheater.  Then Friday, former US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Duquesne Law School Dean Ken Gormley will discuss the fine balance between our privacy rights and protecting the country. 

Mark Scott talks with Chautauqua President Tom Becker about the week three theme, "The Ethics of Privacy."

The afternoon Inter-Faith program at the Hall of Philosophy will explore the ethical tensions between privacy and interdependence.  In ancient times, people had to depend on others to survive.  That has changed through the years.  But Chautauqua's Associate Director of Religion, Maureen Rovegno, says, as with most things, there needs to be a healthy balance.

"As humans, we have both the need for autonomy and interdependence," Rovegno said.   "As John Dunne said, no man is an island."

In keeping with the theme of protecting the privacy of children, Thursday's speaker, Sharon Duke Estroff, will explore the complexities of raising kids in a digital age. 

Credit Photo courtesy of the Chautauqua Institution
Charlotte Ballet performs at Chautauqua Tuesday

Also this week, the Chautauqua Symphony has three evening performances at the Amphitheater.  Tuesday, the orchestra will provide the musical backdrop for the Charlotte Ballet, which is in residence at Chautauqua.  There's a concert Thursday night.  Then Saturday, the CSO and Chautauqua Opera collaborate in a program of opera highlights. 

Finally,  country music star Jennifer Nettles will perform in concert at Chautauqua Amphitheater Friday night at 8:15, as part of your "That Girl" tour.

Mark Scott and Programming VP Marty Merkley preview week three evening entertainment.