Why the Morality Police Needs to Stop Judging Ashley Madison by the Forward

Why the Morality Police Needs to Stop Judging Ashley Madison

Ahh, nothing like the smell of Schadenfreude in the morning.

The Ashley Madison saga continues as CEO Noel Biderman after a third wave of client and website data was dumped, exposing Biderman’s very own alleged extramarital affair along with the other 37 million users of the adultery website.

According to BuzzFeed News, nearly 300 leaked Biderman emails from July 2012 to this past May indicate he had a long-term affair affair with a Toronto woman who introduced herself as “Melisa from the spa” and with at least two other women as well.

While I understand the attraction that such gossip-heavy news can hold, here’s my problem: is it really news?

I find the zeal with which news outlets have pursued the story unsettling.

In the last few weeks, media outlets have exposed, discussed and relished in every little detail of this scandal. Public opinion has been judge, jury and executioner in a blood thirsty hunt for the next celebrity to sacrifice on the altar of morality. But who are we to judge?

Ashley Madison didn’t teach people how to cheat. And outing users as cheaters is not in the public interest. What goes on in people’s bedrooms, while salacious, and sure, riveting, is no one’s business. And to sic the morality police on the inner workings of other people’s marriages is in itself immoral.

People looking to have an affair, will have an affair, whether Ashley Madison was available to them or not. But it looks like finding a woman to have an affair with on the site was harder than picking up a woman in the produce section of a supermarket. Of the 5.5 million female users, most were bots, fake or inactive accounts. Only 1,500 of the women had ever read their messages, 2,400 had chatted with other users and 9,700 replied to a message.

So maybe Ashley Madison was the safest place to save a marriage. How’s that for a twist?


Maia Efrem

Maia Efrem

Maia Efrem is the former research editor and assistant to the editor and was also responsible for the Forward’s annual Salary Survey. Previously she served as the editor of Blognik Beat, a blog written by students who emigrated from or have ties to the Former Soviet Union. Maia is a graduate of Hunter College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

Why the Morality Police Needs to Stop Judging Ashley Madison

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