Perfect Happiness to some women is never having to worry about expenses, to some it is having a staff of servants, and to others it is taking luxury vacation cruises. Judged by these worldly standards, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis should be perfectly happy. She lives on the most luxurious yacht in the world and has dozens of servants to command. Life on her yacht is one continuous cruise to the most beautiful places in the Mediterranean.
According to Christian Kafarakis, the former chief steward on the Onassis yacht, Jackie is the beneficiary of a unique marriage contract which obliges her husband to provide her with support at the rate of $50,000 per month and, if they should separate, with several million dollars for each year they lived together. If Aristotle Onassis dies while they are married, Jackie is guaranteed to inherit $100 million.
It is sad to note, however, that into Jackie Onassis’s paradise has crept a serpent in the person of a paparazzo, that is, a free-lance photographer, named Ronald Galella. He makes his living by photographing the jet set in their unguarded moments. He and Jackie Onassis have been locked for three years in bitter litigation in Federal courts over whether he has a right to photograph her without her permission. Jackie told the court that Galella has so interfered with her right of privacy that she is “an absolute prisoner .. living in dread of Ronald Galella.”
Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court in the abortion decisions discovered a new constitutional “right of privacy” which gives any woman a right to kill her innocent unborn children. It would logically seem to follow, therefore, that Jackie Onassis’s right to privacy should include the right to kill a prying photographer.
However, the Federal courts are not ready to accept this logical extension of the abortion decision, and they gave photographer Galella much greater protection than they gave to unborn children. The trial court ruled that Galella would be permitted to take pictures of Jackie from a distance of 150 feet and pictures of her children from a distance of 225 feet. The Court of Appeals recently reduced these restrictions and said that he could photograph Jackie from a distance of 25 feet and her children from 30 feet.
Jackie then requested the full panel of judges to rehear her appeal, but the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York, while sympathizing with her problems with photographers rejected her request, stating that the question did not “rise to the threshold of importance” that would require consideration by the full Court.
Thus, in the scales of justice, one photographer weighs more than the million babies killed this year with Supreme Court approval. As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once observed, the life of the law is not logic, but experience.