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“If This Is Your Husband…”

The Huffington Post recently ran an article regarding a photograph a woman had taken of a fellow train traveler and then posted it to Facebook with the following comment:

“If this is your husband, I have endured a 2 hour train ride from Philadelphia listening to this loser and his friends brag about their multiple affairs and how their wives are too stupid to catch on. Oh please repost…”

The photo went viral and therein lies the dilemma.  Was she right to publish a photo of a man claiming he was bragging of being a serial adulterer?

My take on this is that the photograph is not evidence of the behavior the man is being accused of at all.   It merely identifies an anonymous stranger on the same train as “Stephanie”, the witness to the alleged vulgarity who snapped the picture.   The photo tells us nothing other than what the man looks like.   Is “Stephanie” lying? I don’t know but I remain skeptical that the man is guilty as she charges solely because it is a “he said,she said” situation.   Had she videotaped him that would settle the veracity issue but still leave open the question of whether she should have posted it all.

Second, in a confined yet public place, you will undoubtedly overhear conversations that will not meet with your own standards of appropriateness.  Back when I was a 20-something, I was in a restaurant and could not help overhearing the table of men next to me seriously discuss why women were inferior to men.  It made my blood boil but I had no right to intrude on their conversation whatsoever.   Freedom of speech is still a cherished Constitutional right in the US and like it or not, you will hear topics discussed that will offend you.

So, “Stephanie” overheard a conversation among several men on a train discussing their serial adulteries and how stupid their wives were for not knowing.   While disgusting that they are braggart adulterers, I’m not sure that rises to the level of being offensive to the welfare of the train passengers.  Committing adultery is an offense against the wife and family but not against the transient population of the train.   What would make the overheard conversation rise to the level of being offensive to their fellow train passengers is if those conversations contained graphic descriptions of sex acts in language most people would consider to be vulgar.   There is a time and place for everything and a public mode of transportation is not the venue to espouse one’s tales of sexual exploits loud enough to be overheard by passengers who cannot escape hearing it.   In this scenario, I do think passenger(s) have the right to confront the offender with the request to cease the topic and switch to another.

“Gentlemen, we  are not in a bar nor a men’s locker room therefore the loud, lurid and vulgar tales of your sexual exploits is offensive and out of place here where we are all compelled to overhear it.   None of us want to hear it so please put a lid on it.”

And I would video their behavior and my request because if the behavior continued, I would have no hesitation to use social media to pressure a change in behavior.

{ 72 comments… add one }
  • NostalgicGal June 10, 2013, 8:15 am

    What has been done cannot be undone. Once it’s posted, the internet NEVER forgets.

    If you can’t discuss it with a 4 year old or your priest, or show them the same, don’t post it!

  • Lythande June 10, 2013, 8:35 am

    Honestly, you have no business having a conversation you don’t want the world to hear where the world can hear it. You have no expectation of privacy in a public place, so maybe she shouldn’t have posted it, but he has no right to complain about it. (Although the fact that it’s unprovable hearsay is an issue.)

    Also I think that the first amendment only applies to the government – the government can’t censor what a person says, but people and organizations can censor each other. Otherwise nondisclosure agreements would be unconstitutional.

  • Lo June 10, 2013, 8:36 am

    I saw this post over the weekend and it bothered me too.

    I don’t think the poster is lying or anything and I sympathize with her disgust but it’s a massive invasion of privacy to do this. Furthermore it’s none of her business. If this man is having an affair it’s between him and his wife and his mistress or whoever is involved. Now everyone; family, coworkers, etc, can pass judgement on this guy if he’s recognized.

    And anyone could do this to anyone else, or take something out of context and do this, or make up a story and do this. It’s slander.

    I would imagine that this man could rightfully sue her for the invasion of privacy and I’d be thrilled if he won.

    As for the statement: “Freedom of speech is still a cherished Constitutional right in the US and like it or not, you will hear topics discussed that will offend you.”

    I wish people would keep this in mind when they hear things that offend them. People nowadays are so outraged all the time and feel free to express it constantly. It’s okay to be offended by someone’s opinions. I’m constantly bombared by things that offend me in real life and online and I’m sure I offend a lot of people with my own beliefs. But you have to pick your battles. And I’d say 90% of the time it’s not worth it. And it’s never worth it with strangers in public. And it’s not our place to hold others up for public judgement.

  • Kimberly June 10, 2013, 8:36 am

    From my understanding, the poster stated that all the men were bragging about having affairs, so why did she only take a pic of the one guy and post it online?

  • ferretrick June 10, 2013, 8:40 am

    Just a note-this situation has NOTHING to do with freedom of speech. The freedom of speech guaranteed in the Constitution is the freedom to speak without fear of government retribution or censorship. It has zero to do with conversation between private citizens or etiquette rules about appropriate topics of conversation in public.

  • Lisa June 10, 2013, 8:51 am

    Did “Stephanie” really think that she was doing the wife a favor by publicly humiliating her? Learning that your husband is cheating on you (if he really is) would be terrible enough without thousands of other people knowing your private problems. Even worse: If this man has children, they could be the ones who first see the viral posting about their father. The person who posted this photo obviously wasn’t thinking about the damage SHE was doing.

  • AMC June 10, 2013, 9:01 am

    It seems as though there is a trend in using social media to publicly shame others for their bad behavior. I don’t really know how I feel about this. Sometimes my gut reaction is to feel a bit of schadenfreude. But as Admin pointed out, there is no way to know how accurate the poster’s account of the event is when it lacks context, corroboration from other sources, clear video/audio evidence of the behavior, or the subject’s side of the story. And this is why anything posted on the internet should be taken with a BIG grain of salt.
    Consider for a moment what would happen if this did come to the attention of the man’s wife, family, friends, coworkers, or, God forbid, their children. The person who originally posted the photo has now not only shamed the man, but has also publicly humiliated his wife and kids and aired their dirty laundry for the whole world to see, without their consent.

  • manybellsdown June 10, 2013, 9:02 am

    I don’t know. “Freedom of Speech” doesn’t exempt one from the consequences of that speech. It’s iffy in this case because it was a stranger, but it’s entirely possible that someone who knew the men and their wives could have been on that train and overheard. Further, if they’re having “multiple affairs”, they’re putting the health of their wives at risk, and possibly that of future partners who might not have known the men were married or were having sex with others.

  • Dominic June 10, 2013, 9:04 am

    At one time, a popular standard of behavior was, “Never do (or say) anything in public you wouldn’t do (or say) in front of your mother.” I suppose it depends on your mother, but nonetheless, such a standard would prevent a lot of stupid behavior.

    Unfortunately, it’s not always possible, particularly in a crowded train (or other similar situation), to simply move away from the offensive conversation. Yet, if these men are stupid enough to discuss something so publicly, maybe they deserve to be called out for it. They certainly are taking the risk that their conduct could be exposed to the online world.

  • Virg June 10, 2013, 9:05 am

    Notwithstanding the legal issues with videorecording someone else’s conversations, I don’t agree that it’s reasonable to try to use such means to quiet someone’s public discussion. It’s very rude to hold a loud and vulgar discussion in an enclosed public space, but I can’t help but feel that recording and posting said discussion as a method for striking back is retaliatory rudeness.


  • E June 10, 2013, 9:08 am

    I’m not sure why it’s ok to speak up to the adultery-tale-tellers, but not to the men who were discussing women’s ‘inferiority’. If you’re going to have a conversation in a public place, you do so knowing that people will likely overhear and that someone may respond back. I’m not saying that one should be rude or crass in response, but a calm brief statement is not out of line. In a public place, such as a restaurant, no one is entitled to a perfect bubble of privacy and, if they were encroaching on your evening (angering you by their callous comments), why not ask them to stop? “Excuse me, gentleman, you may not realize this, but I and others can overhear your conversation and honestly I find it very offensive. If this is not something you would say to your daughters or wives, I suggest that you cease discussing it here as well. It’s really putting me off my dinner.” If they were swearing or discussing other racist or bigoted topics, I would recommend the same thing.

  • E June 10, 2013, 9:09 am

    Just to add – if they have a freedom of speech to discuss offensive topics, why did you not have the freedom of speech to ask them to stop or at least register your anger/disgust (in a calm and polite way)?

  • SweetPea June 10, 2013, 9:11 am

    There’s always a chance that what you’re hearing isn’t *exactly* what is being said. For instance, just yesterday, I went for a ride on my boyfriend’s motorcycle as a passenger. It was the first time I’d ever ridden one, and the first time he’d ever had a passenger. We stopped to get some breakfast, and while we were waiting for a table, we started talking about it, as you can’t really talk to each other while riding – it’s too loud. Simple questions & statements: How was it? Were you uncomfortable? Did you like it? I’m so glad I tried something new!

    Another pair had come in behind us mid conversation, and, when they heard us, they thought we were talking about sex! In a Bob Evans!

    Anyway, like I said, while it is possible that what the poster heard was heard out of context, this may be a case of knowing exactly what was going on, especially if the man and his friends were bragging about it. Personally, while it may suck for this man who now has his image gone viral with the tag of “cheater,” from the point of view of one who has been with the cheater and who didn’t have a clue, I am okay with this. When you brag on a train, loudly enough for people to hear you, for *two hours* about how you cheat, you run the risk of a) somebody knowing you anyway, and b) someone feeling bad for the wife/girlfriend/whatever and wanting to reach out to them.

    Was there a better way, perhaps, for the poster to go about trying to alert the other half of the relationship? Perhaps. Do I feel bad for the guy who bragged for two hours about being dishonest? Not really. Just seems like karma delivered.

  • Huh June 10, 2013, 9:17 am

    Does this fall into the same category of dilemma as “If you see your friend’s spouse/significant other out with another woman, do you say something?”

    As someone who has been cheated on, I have no sympathy whatsoever for the guys whose privacy was invaded. Maybe they shouldn’t be loudly bragging out in public – they have no idea who could be a friend/co-worker of their “stupid” spouse. If you don’t want people in your private business, no matter what it is, perhaps you shouldn’t be talking about it in a public place.

  • XH June 10, 2013, 9:38 am

    Freedom of speech is a right guaranteed that the government will not intrude upon. That doesn’t mean there aren’t social consequences for the words a person says. Individual action is not the same as government action.

    That’s why websites may moderate themselves to prevent things they don’t like being posted.

    Bragging in public about your unsavory actions may very well have negative social consequences, such as being made more public than you intended. It’s not infringing on that freedom for someone who is not a representative of the government to also freely speak against you.

  • gramma dishes June 10, 2013, 10:03 am

    This was a single frame photograph. It was not a video and apparently there was no sound.
    We are supposed to take this woman’s word that this conversation took place?

    It may have happened as she reports. But it also may not have happened at all. People can post any picture they want on social media sites and attach any story they diddly feel like to it. Just because someone SAYS someone did something doesn’t make it true, yet sadly (I think) so many people are so quick to believe anything they read.

    Even if what she says is actually true, the people most affected by it are likely to be his wife and children. Do they deserve the public humiliation? And why did she single out just this one person? Why not all of the guys involved in this supposed conversation?

    If it ISN’T true, this could still cause the break up of an otherwise happy marriage or even the loss of his job (in some circumstances). Frankly, if it isn’t true, I hope he goes after her for defamation of character. At any time anyone could take a picture of us in a public place and post horrible things — totally untrue things — about us.

    There needs to be repercussions for ‘bearing false witness’. Otherwise where does this nonsense stop?

  • Anonymous June 10, 2013, 10:09 am

    These kinds of situations are why iPods were invented. Earbuds go into your ears, unsavoury talk stays out.

  • Lisa June 10, 2013, 10:15 am

    In this day and age I would be hesitant to photograph or video someone without their consent, who knows what they might do if they disagree with your idea.
    I think this is one of those instances where you just do your best to politely ignore the situation.

  • Allie June 10, 2013, 10:17 am

    It seems unlikely the woman who posted the picture was lying and the man in question was discussing the prospects of the Phillies this season. However, that is a possibility that should be considered by those who know him before he is “convicted” of the charge. However, assuming it is true that he was indeed discussing his extramarital exploits on a train, then he is the author of his own misfortune and I have no sympathy for him whatsoever. A train is a public place. If you don’t want your sins to be exposed, don’t discuss them in public places where you have no expectation of privacy. Many a murderer or other criminal has been convicted because they have bragged about their crime in a public place and been overheard. Was the woman’s behavior appropriate? Perhaps not, but had he not given her the ammunition, she could not have fired the gun.

  • Kovitlac June 10, 2013, 10:25 am

    The First Amendment really doesn’t apply, because no one is making it illegal for them to discuss such activity on the train. In fact, if you want to bring up the First Amendment, it’s more likely to support the woman taking the photo, since photography in a public place IS protected by the First Amendment.

    Now, I’m not saying the woman should be taken 100% at her word. Maybe the guy was just annoying her in another way, and she wanted to get revenge. Maybe it’s a cruel prank. On the other hand, maybe the guy’s wife will recognize him, and do the smart thing (not accuse him outright, but keep her eyes and ears open). If the guy truly was saying all the things the photographer said he was, then I don’t feel the least bit sorry for him, and I can see why the passenger would do it. Who knows – she could be the victim of a cheating husband, herself.

  • merry mrs martin June 10, 2013, 10:25 am

    I think a few posters may be confused , the OP did not make the “is this your husband ” she read the story and commented here.

  • spartiechic June 10, 2013, 10:47 am

    As other posters have said, Freedom of Speech is simply a freedom to not be censored by the government. It’s not without rules (hate speech or dangerous speech [eg yelling fire in a crowded theater]). Also, it doesn’t protect you from consequences from your speech (as the CEO of A&F has found).

    That being said, I don’t believe shaming anyone on FB is going to change the behavior of a man who brags about cheating (if that is, indeed, what he was doing). I think this falls in the MYOB catagory. Yes, it’s disturbing, but it isn’t for you to intervene. That person is eventually going to get caught. You don’t know if the wife is really in the dark, anyway. A still photograph doesn’t give us any context and doesn’t allow for him to give a rebuttal.

    I don’t believe it’s a privacy issue, however, because one does not have an assumption of privacy when in a public setting. You open yourself up to being photographed, videotaped, or overheard when you have a conversation in public. Just ask celebrities.

  • Annie June 10, 2013, 11:07 am

    There seems to be a lot of confusion about the right to “free speech.” Both people in this story practiced their right to free speech–he said unacceptable things, she took a picture in a public place and posted it on the internet with some comments that may or may not have been true. In both cases, that’s legally protected free speech.

    But in neither case is it socially acceptable, and both people will have to bear the social repercussions of their actions.

  • WildIrishRose June 10, 2013, 11:09 am

    People who take photos of other people without their knowledge or consent, and then post those photos online accompanied by slanderous comments, are the rudest of the rude. I can certainly understand asking these men to take their volume down a notch, but to take the picture and put it on Facebook with the accompanying remarks was just beyond the pale. Personally, I’m so sick of camera phones and videos it’s unreal. You can’t turn around without seeming some schmo with a cell phone recording [fill in the blank]. I’m not paranoid, but I intensely dislike the thought of showing up on someone’s wall with a snarky comment. Shame on the person who did this. Shame on those men for deceiving their wives, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

  • Ashley June 10, 2013, 11:11 am

    She’s got one picture of the guy with no actual proof he was saying these things, no video or anything. What if she just did it because she felt like being evil that day? Those types of people DO exist. Just ask the girls who posted pictures of me in cosplay eating my lunch for the sole reason of making fun of me.

    I’d also imagine that if it WERE true, his wife would have liked to have found out in a far less public way.
    But then a part of me also thinks that even if this is the worst way to find out, it’s still better than not finding out at ALL…

    Plus what about the other guys? What about them saved them from having their pictures posted? Why did she pick this guy and not the others? Or was she just hoping that if she posted one of them, the wives of the others would eventually find out by recognizing him?

  • The Elf June 10, 2013, 11:16 am

    Well, they did say it in public……. That’s the bigger issue, IMHO, is that we as a society have lost the bounds of what should be said in public and what should be kept to private conversations. Cell phones are the worst for this, as the speaker tends to be louder. Really, I do not need to know your entire medical history. But thanks for the credit card number!

    There’s multiple reasons why it might not be exactly as it sounded, and really the facebook poster should MYOB. This is assuming the facebook poster really heard this conversation and isn’t having some sort of petty, unrelated, revenge. The only time you should intrude is if you are really close to the betrayed spouse, and even then, tread carefully. Very carefully.

  • Hanna June 10, 2013, 11:20 am

    There is a picture on facebook somewhere of a soldier going into battle. The caption says “I may not agree with your opinion, but I will fight to the death for it.” I have strong opinions on a lot of things, and adultery, IMO, is tasteless, disgusting, disrespectful and extremely harmful to many–but there are people who believe there is nothing wrong with it(or there would be no mistresses, or shows like Sister Wives) and that it is a lifestyle choice, and one that we should be tolerant of. While I believe there is “traveling conversation” appropriate for other passengers, many people do not know when their discussions have reached inappropriate levels because of the “anything goes” attitude we have in our society. Public burping, farting and belching are common, and recently upon telling a close family member he was being rude for belching, he genuinely acted very surprised and said “what are you talking about?” If you were to tell a perfect stranger to choose their words more carefully or stop a conversation, you may have to defend yourselves in some unpleasant ways and it’s not worth it.

  • Stacey Frith-Smith June 10, 2013, 11:38 am

    Conversations in public spaces are fair game for dissemination. That doesn’t make every attempt at dissemination truthful or ethical- it simply means that- “If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek, Five things observe with care…To whom you speak, to whom you speak , And how, and when and where”. (Caroline Lake Ingalls, attributed to her mother). The expectation of privacy (or in this case anonymity) is best guarded by the conversant, not by those who chance to overhear.

  • Stacey Frith-Smith June 10, 2013, 11:39 am

    May I try that again? “To whom you speak, Of whom you speak, And how and when and where”. Oops.

  • MichelleP June 10, 2013, 11:56 am

    This is why I only use Facebook to see pictures of my relatives’ kids. Anyone can take a pic and put a comment on it, and there are some who will believe it.

    I’m torn on this. On one hand, no one should say in public anything they don’t want repeated. Other hand, the taker of this picture had no business taking it and posting it with what she said about it.

    Same subject, different take: as a nurse, I have been told umpteen times about HIPPA violations, and the risk of getting in trouble for violating patients’ privacy. I worked with two nurses who were discussing a patient when they went out to lunch. They weren’t talking badly; they liked her and were genuinely concerned. The patient’s neighbor, unfortunately, was in that restaurant eating lunch, heard them say her name, recorded and videoed the whole conversation, and told the patient’s family. Both nurses were fired. I liked both of them and they were good nurses, but they had no business discussing that in public, away from the hospital.

    The first amendment was not meant to cover people who think they can discuss anything they want anywhere. I get so sick of vulgarity and TMI conversations everywhere I go.

  • Calli Arcale June 10, 2013, 11:56 am

    My first thought is that this woman has successfully screwed up this man’s life, since the picture has gone viral and could easily impact future career moves. Are we sure of her motives in doing so? Is she really pillorying a cheater, or is she framing someone? Does she have a grudge against this man? Is she a troll, simply looking to start a lot of tongue-clucking over the imagined actions of a stranger? Was this picture even taken by her? (It would not be the first time a picture taken by one person has been found on on the Internet and appropriated by another person for their own personal amusement.) All in all, she created a massive storm that cannot now be held back, and which comes with no evidence that any of it is true. And he definitely could sue her, though it would cost him money and so he may not be able to do so and prevail. It could be tricky; even lawsuits against paparazzi by very wealthy celebrities have struggled, so he might not be able to clear his name even if he’s innocent of the charges.

    Is it rude to brag about your exploits in public? Yes. Is it right to shame people in this way? I’m not sure. It’s not the best way to deal with it, that’s for sure, and it opens you up to potential legal difficulties. The First Amendment does not protect slander and libel, after all. And while I think adultery is wrong, punishing it in this way is none of our business. If what someone is discussing offends you, it is your right to get up and tell them so and ask that they carry it on more quietly or else change the subject so that everybody can enjoy a pleasant train ride. Otherwise, if they’re not discussing a crime, you really should stay out of it. Never interfere in a married couple’s life if you can help it. That way lies madness.

  • Annabelle June 10, 2013, 12:28 pm

    Putting aside the facts of the First Amendment that others have stated – if Free Speech applies to a jerk on a train, why doesn’t it apply the woman on Facebook? Don’t get me wrong, I personally don’t think either comes out covered in glory, I’m just unclear why she should be held to a higher standard. If he’s “allowed” to say whatever he likes in a public forum, then so can she.

  • cleosia June 10, 2013, 12:40 pm

    Here’s a thought for you: What if said Facebook poster WAS the mistress trying to get back at her adulterous lover for not leaving his wife for her. Or someone who would like to have an affair with the man in the photo and figures it’s one way to get the wife out of her way. So many scenarios!

  • Library Diva June 10, 2013, 12:57 pm

    @Gramma dishes, did you hear about the recent case of a man who did lose his job for making off-color remarks at a conference? It was at a tech conference and he was seated with a couple of his male co-workers, and they were using technical terms in a sexual way, not to refer to anyone specific, just making a joke out of them (in fairness to them, the terms did sound really filthy just on their own, and I can understand why the temptation would be difficult to resist). A woman sitting near them took offense. Instead of talking with them, she posted their photo on Twitter. It went viral, and a cyber-storm ensued. The man in the picture lost his job, but here’s the kicker — so did the woman who posted it. She was a “brand ambassador” and her company felt that she’d attracted too much negative attention to be effective in her position anymore.

    I don’t know how I feel about stories like these. I’ve heard lots of similar conversations in public and dearly wished the men in question would get theirs, but it is also possible that the OP of this photo misinterpreted what she was hearing. Perhaps they were working on a novel, screenplay or other venture, or re-telling a story. It could even be a game that they decided to play to liven up a dull train ride.

  • David June 10, 2013, 1:30 pm

    If indeed the men were talking about this, then they were certainly rude boors.

    The problem is, we only have the poster’s word that that is what happened. And as someone has stated before me, if there was a group of men who were all talking about their many affairs, why is there only the picture of one of them?

  • Gen Xer June 10, 2013, 1:44 pm

    While I can’t muster up any sympathy for a braggy philanderer – if it is indeed true ( frankly anything posted on-line like that is extremely dubious at best ) I have nothing but contempt for the righteously indignant FB poster.
    These morals police busybodies can do a lot of damage….and what’s worse they think they are correct to do so.
    I mentioned this once before that I was out for lunch with my brother when a coworker of my first husband’s decided to tell him he “caught me with another man” and let me tell you it got beyond ugly.
    You do nothing bu open up a Pandora’s box when you get involved in other people’s marriages.
    Mind your own business.

  • Hellbound Alleee June 10, 2013, 2:16 pm

    Freedom of speech only protects speech from government interference–not from individual scrutiny. In this case, it is only relevant if the woman was trying to get the men arrested for saying this stuff.

    You have a “right” to intrude upon a stranger’s conversation–it’s just not polite to do it. Freedom of speech does not protect one from social stigma or correction. That’s how a polite spine works. In many occasions, you have to say something about someone’s behavior in public, because that’s how we learn. It’s just not a freedom of speech issue.

  • another Laura June 10, 2013, 2:52 pm

    There are so many “missing child” hoaxes where a tween or teen’s friends take his/her photo and stats and insert them into generic missing child text with a phony website, and it goes viral because people think they are helping find a lost child.
    This could so easily be her way of pranking a friend (a really bad idea), or getting revenge on an enemy (or just someone who annoyed her on the train). I agree with previous posters who wonder why only one guy is pictured if there was really a group talking this way. I also think that if it is true, the wife and children will suffer more humiliation from this than the husband (think opening scene of “Hope Floats”).

  • Lisa June 10, 2013, 3:01 pm

    Adding on to my earlier comment, it seems that there are three central, but distinct issues coming out of this conversation:
    1. Do you have the right to say anything you like in public? Or, alternatively, do you have the right to ask someone to stop speaking about something that you find offensive?

    From a legal point of view, as I understand it, as long as your words aren’t inciting violence or putting others in immediate harm (e.g., yelling “fire” in a crowded theater), you can say whatever you want, no matter how offensive. From an etiquette point of view, certain things are best left said in private—or not at all. And as for intervention: I think it’s acceptable to speak up if you feel that what someone is saying is offensive (racist, sexist, graphic), but be prepared to be ignored or retaliated against.

    2. Do you have an expectation of privacy when you are in public?

    From a layman’s understanding of the law: No. If you are in public, you can be photographed or recorded without consent, and those photos or recordings can be used without your consent. (With exceptions, of course, such as “upskirt shots”)

    Again, from an etiquette point of view: Yes. I think even in this world of ubiquitous social media, we should feel safe to go out in public without people recording our images, actions, and words and using them out of context in malicious ways.

    3. Should this person (Stephanie) have posted that photo claiming that the person in it was bragging about adultery?

    For me, the answer is no, regardless of whether the man was actually guilty of adultery. Because the harm isn’t just to him: It’s to his wife, children (if he has any), parents, siblings, . . . Other people who did nothing wrong will be hurt by this, and any “help” is purely theoretical.

  • Pam June 10, 2013, 3:02 pm

    I think the nice thing to have done would have been to compose a short, polite, respectful note, telling the man that he had “publicly aired” his dirty laundry in a manner where she had overheard it all. A note might be a way to let him know he’s out of line, but not start any kind of confrontation.

  • Barbarian June 10, 2013, 3:31 pm

    I am surprised HP would post a story of such dubious value with no ability to verify the sources.

    It sounds a lot like a commercial for an insurance company I heard about on TV:

    A man is filing an online claim with the company while chatting with a female friend who tells him:

    “I heard you couldn’t file claims online with this company”.
    “Really”, he answers, “where did you hear that?”
    “The Internet. Now I better run or I’ll be late for my date with this French model”, she replies.
    “A French model. How did you meet?” Neighbor Guy asks.
    “On the internet’, she answers as a less than attractive and uncouth type of guy strolls up to her ready to set off their “date”.

    Maybe anybody who reads the HP blog and gets upset or worried should take this little story into account before it messes up their day.

    Just saying.

    • admin June 10, 2013, 4:26 pm

      It also appeared on slate.com.

  • Rap June 10, 2013, 3:37 pm

    “Well, they did say it in public……. That’s the bigger issue, IMHO, is that we as a society have lost the bounds of what should be said in public and what should be kept to private conversations”

    Did they say it in public? Because I don’t know him, and I don’t know the anonymous person posting, and since the person who overheard the conversation did nothing wrong, I’m kinda concerned why they’re staying anonymous.

  • Marozia June 10, 2013, 3:39 pm

    MYOB!! That’s all I can say. While adultery is reprehensible, it’s still not your call.
    Regarding taking a picture of just one person in a group, that question to me is the easiest to answer. He was the biggest bragger. I also believe that type of person is also the biggest liar. No doubt, trying to keep up with his mates. I may be wrong, but I’m thinking these guys are in their late 20’s/early 30’s. Aren’t they a little OLD for this ‘frat-boy’ mentality?

  • Virg June 10, 2013, 3:41 pm

    Annabelle, the reason why she did worse than him is because of what she said. Assuming that her story is true, he bragged about an affair. She specifically accused him of a defaming offense. Assuming that it’s not true, he could have been talking about anything, and she committed libel against him. In either case, the fact that her statement has a direct target (where his didn’t if her story is true) is why her action should be considered differently.

  • Cat June 10, 2013, 3:55 pm

    I didn’t click on the entire article so I may not have the full story. Since I don’t want to see or hear what she posted, I do think the following should be noted: first, that listening to other people’s conversations should be avoided if possible, and, if they are so loud that not hearing it is impossible, one should forget what was heard, and 2) a man who brags about infidelity may be indulging in wishful thinking more than he is indulging in the actual act. Guys brag about many things-the size of the fish they caught, the buck deer they shot, their ability to seduce women…
    I have a dear friend who lives a wonderful fantasy life and tells me that he’s a Viet Nam war combat vet ( I know for a fact he was never in the military), that he participated on the sideline of a college football team, that he is part of a prestigious group with international recognition…and it’s all a pipe dream. I nod and smile. If it makes him happy, far be from me to out him.

  • jeab June 10, 2013, 4:04 pm

    I think this is ultimately just a modern act of “shooting the messenger.” I don’t believe you can have a discussion in a public place and expect absolutely privacy. I have, for instance, never once heard a doctor on her cell phone discussing someone’s private medical history. Yet, I presume most doctors have mobiles and use them all the time. So why have I never hear one chatting away at the bank or grocery store? Probably because they have enough common sense to understand that those are private topics that don’t belong in public spaces (specifically because others might overhear them). This man should have had the same sense and I have no sympathy for him. If his wife is humiliated by this news, the only person to blame is the husband who cheated on her and then blabbed it to friends and strangers.

  • waitress wonderwoman June 10, 2013, 5:10 pm

    I probably would have just put my earplugs in and rolled my eyes. People who feel the need to loudly share their conquests are usually always full of it.
    As for putting it on the internet for everyone to see, one of the commenters on the article wrote this gem:
    A little boy was sitting on a park bench eating a candy bar. When a lady came up to him and said, “Little boy if you keep eating candy bars like that you will never grow and will not live a long life. Don’t you want to live a long life? ”
    The little boy stopped eating his candy bar and looked up at the lady and responded ” Ma’am I will have you know that my grandpa lived too 100 years old.”
    ” Oh!” Said the lady. ” Did he eat candy bars? ”
    “I don’t know if he did or not Ma’am. ” replied the little boy.” But he sure as hell minded his own business. “

  • LEMon June 10, 2013, 6:29 pm

    A few things bother me.

    One: we have this woman’s word for what she heard. How do we know she is telling the truth? And even if she were, how does she know he was telling the truth?
    Two: one man was photographed, while she suggests the conversation was between several men. I object to punishing only one of a group (if they were guilty).

    So one man gets his reputation with everyone destroyed on her say-so.

  • The Elf June 10, 2013, 7:16 pm

    Rap, the photograph is undeniably a man on a train. If we are to believe anything in this story, then it’s clear he was in a public space sharing information best left to a private setting.

  • jessica June 10, 2013, 7:56 pm

    First, I don’t think what she did was right. Public shaming is not the way to handle these situations. However, I feel admin is also pretty off-base.

    “Freedom of speech is still a cherished Constitutional right in the US and like it or not, you will hear topics discussed that will offend you.”

    The two halves of this sentence have nothing to do with one another. These men are free to discuss how stupid their wives are all day long without suffering government censorship. And I, or any other passenger, are free to ask them to stop and to express that I find their discussion disgusting. That, too, is freedom of speech. In the end, from an etiquette perspective, my right to enjoy my train ride free from a disgusting display of misogyny overrides theirs to speak freely. Admin not understanding how this conversation would be offensive to ANY woman (who is not also one of their wives) shocks me.

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