Privacy

Bob Barr's Private Disgust

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Yesterday, at a Senate hearing on the privacy implications of data mining, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) asked former Georgia congressman (and recent Libertarian Party convert) Bob Barr about his bit part in Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan:

Barr: "Information was gathered at that interview under false pretenses."

Specter: "Did you have any rights to stop its showing or distribution because of the invasion of your privacy?"

Barr: "There may be. I know that some legal actions by some other persons involved are being pursued. I elected not to pursue it, believing essentially that the more that one wastes time or engages in those sorts of activities, the more publicity you bring to something."

Specter: "Did you see the movie?"

Barr: "I have not. I know folks who have."

Specter: "It was a most extraordinary movie, and that the interview with you was about the only part of the movie worth seeing." 

Barr: "I'll take that as a compliment, Senator."

Barr's expression upon learning that the cheese he has just sampled was made from Borat's wife's breast milk is indeed one of the movie's highlights. But it's rather strange to describe Borat creator Sacha Baron Cohen's practice of tricking public figures into interviews with his Kazakh-journalist alter ego (as well as with the equally dimwitted hip-hop hipster Ali G and the slightly smarter fashion reporter Bruno) as an invasion of privacy. Barr knew the interview was being recorded; he just didn't know Borat was a fictional character. It's not as if Cohen used a hidden camera to catch Barr picking his nose while sitting on the toilet.

The exchange with Specter raises a question even more important than the debate over exactly how libertarian Barr is: Does he have a sense of humor?

[via Extreme Mortman]

NEXT: A Surge of Pessimism

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  1. Isn’t Borat’s 15 minutes up yet? At what point does the whole schtick get stale? Yeah, Borat makes fun of people by doing and saying disgusting things and making them unfortable or getting them to let their real feelings show. Got it. Can we move on now?

  2. He’s obviously feeling a bit put-upon, but (and I say this not having seen his scene,) “there MAY be” a legal remedy here? I don’t see it. What damage did he suffer?

  3. Barr missed a great opportunity to delineate the differences between satire, free speech, and the invasion of privacy while latching onto the likability of a very popular movie. Barr should use the fact that he was in a movie that has almost univeral appeal amongst the 18 – 35 demographic to promote libertarianism, or at least the LP, but I doubt he will.

  4. I think the more interesting thing is Sen. Arlen Specter not only watched the movie, but said it was extraordinary. I wonder if Sasha Cohen will decide to put that comment on the jacket of the DVD.

    “it was the most extraordinary movie!”
    -Sen. Arlen Specter (R)

  5. Christopher, that’s all well and good, but I imagine that would be kind of a tough act to pull off after being made the butt of a joke.

  6. Barr is in a better postion that I was in when I was interviewed under false pretenses.

    His real name was used, mine was not, so all I get to do is poke fun at the publication and writer with no hope for compensation.

  7. oh guy, how did you manage to survive your time on the cross?

  8. By singing, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”, of course.

  9. It would have been nice if Senator Specter had spent that time asking witnesses like Barr what they thought of mass surveillance and data mining – y’know, the subject of the hearing – don’tchya think?

  10. Can you really make cheese from breast milk?
    Would it be illegal to sell it? Should it be?
    This is what libertarians should be discussing.

    Make it so.

  11. I love people who think that if you don’t find Cohen’s type of bully-boy ambush humour funny you have no sense of humour. I think all of his characters are idiotic and lame. I look forward to some Kazack kicking three shades of shit out of the guy or even better a Gypsy getting him.

  12. Where can I buy human breast milk cheese?
    I’d love to try it, but I would also prefer if I could get breast milk straight from the source.

  13. One can have a sense of humor yet still not find something funny if the joke’s on oneself. I enjoyed a lot of the scenes in that movie, but if I were Bob Barr, I wouldn’t have been very amused.

  14. Great libertarian the LP hired – a guy who only avoids siccing lawyers on someone’s free speech because he thinks it would be counter-productive.

  15. just about no one enjoys being the target of a practical joke, and Specter could have used his time better – as afar as Barr goes, wow, a LP guy actually involved in the governing process in some way instead of arguing about non-force.

    Some more of that please.

  16. Don’t forget Barr’s staunch support for the drug war, Eric. Yes, the LP did itself proud when it gave a leadership position to the freedom-hating asshole that calls itself Bob Barr.

  17. Hey Brian! Beat me to the punchline.

    I see they nailed some sense int you too 🙂

  18. Don’t forget Barr’s staunch support for the drug war, Eric.

    How could I forget? And what about the smirking homophobia of his anti-gay-marriage stance?

    Yes, the LP did itself proud when it gave a leadership position to the freedom-hating asshole that calls itself Bob Barr.

    Well, they might have a good plan. If they aren’t, you know, libertarian, they have a chance to get votes…

  19. But Barr still pays lip service to the notion of fiscal conservatism, right?

  20. But Barr still pays lip service to the notion of fiscal conservatism, right?

    Yeah, and there just might be a demand for a party that offers such lip service and that hasn’t yet been utterly discredited.

  21. Lip service and smirking homophobia . . .

    There must be a Comedy Central grade joke in there someplace.

  22. I wonder what Rosie O’Donnell’s breast cheese would taste like…

  23. A subtle point is that because Borat was a fictional character, he engaged in activity that was not usual and customary for an interview.

    Does the absence of true disclosure prior to the interview nullify any consent granted by the interviewee?

  24. Does the absence of true disclosure prior to the interview nullify any consent granted by the interviewee?

    IMHO, it should but I have never chased an ambulance.

  25. What makes me suspicous about the Borat phenomenon is that the people who seem to like him the most are also the least likely to have any sympathy for the folks Borat makes fun of. Perhaps all of the Borat fans would think he was just as funny if he was making fun of people they liked, but I doubt it. I really wonder what the opinion of Borat on Reason would be if he had done some of this stuff to people at Burning Man or pro drug legalization activists or libertarian leaning science fiction writers. My guess is the general refrane would be “hey, that’s not funny!!”

  26. Well, I think a Borat interview with John and joe could be potentially hilarious.

  27. Yeah, and there just might be a demand for a party that offers such lip service and that hasn’t yet been utterly discredited.

    I wonder how much money could be sliced from state and federal budgets if we didn’t have to waste money on arresting and prosecuting non-vilent drug offenders? No, no, that’s not the sort of fiscal conservatism Barr supports.

  28. He call me anytime he likes. I doubt it be to funny or all that interesting though. When he took a shit on my rug, I would just kick him out of my house and I know better than to eat any cheese he offers me, although perhaps rubbing his nose in it might be the better course.

  29. What makes me suspicous about the Borat phenomenon is that the people who seem to like him the most are also the least likely to have any sympathy for the folks Borat makes fun of.

    So, you don’t find it funny because you have more sympathy for racist, sexist assholes?

  30. “So, you don’t find it funny because you have more sympathy for racist, sexist assholes?”

    If that were all the people in the movie, you might have a point. Those poor people in Romania certainly aren’t. The people whose house he shit in the bag certainly weren’t. Borat’s basic gift is to put his nose to the wind and find the people that it is okay to make fun of in this society. Lets see him go down to a black neighborhood and start railing on Mexicans or Asians and see if he can get them to bite? Or a Mexican neighborhood and start talking about black people? Or go out to an Indian reservation and start talking about the White man? Borat is basically a coward who only picks on people he knows can’t really fight back and when doing so will get him applause.

  31. “He call me anytime he likes…”

    Niiice. He speaka my language.

  32. What makes me suspicous about the Borat phenomenon is that the people who seem to like him the most are also the least likely to have any sympathy for the folks Borat makes fun of. Perhaps all of the Borat fans would think he was just as funny if he was making fun of people they liked, but I doubt it. I really wonder what the opinion of Borat on Reason would be if he had done some of this stuff to people at Burning Man or pro drug legalization activists or libertarian leaning science fiction writers. My guess is the general refrane would be “hey, that’s not funny!!”

    Well, in his previous incarnation the only things that got any “mainstream media” play were the ones where people with an R behind their name, but the D’s were quite ignorant and funny, but ignored.

  33. “My guess is the general refrane would be “hey, that’s not funny!!””

    i’d laugh, since the guy has great timing. but i am easily amused.

    also, john, you need to check out wondershowzen if this is your real complaint about the guy. wondershowzen will give you all the baiting and insanity you need.

    plus some paaaaaaatiiiiiieeeennnnnnnnccccceeeeeeeeeeeee

  34. that should be “all the cross cultural baiting and insanity you need.”

  35. The cheese was delicious, if not a bit gamey.
    All is forgiven, Rosie.

  36. Someone is a libertarian only if they haven’t been caught doing something. If they have been caught, suddenly that act more like a politician.
    It’s like that story of the ACLU. They are against a Nativity scene, but try to protect the rights of the drunk that gets caught having sex with the sheep.

  37. so thank you your vere nice

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