By Rabbi Zvi Solomons asks what the Torah says about England’s deposed cricket maverick, Kevin Pietersen.
When were children, our parents and carers probably avoided talking about certain things in front of us, perhaps using the phrase: “Not in front of the children.”
There are things which are appropriate, and inappropriate, to hold discussion about, in different circles and circumstances. These boundaries, although increasingly blurred in these more promiscuous days, are all part of life – allowing us to avoid embarrassing situations.
For example, a doctor or a lawyer cannot be expected to divulge information about clients. Nor should a prime minister (take note, David Cameron) discuss the intimate conversation they had with the monarch.
Yet there is a notable genre of memoir – the kiss and tell – which continues to be popular in showbusiness and among sportsmen and women.
Into this occasionally intrude politicians such as Alan Clark and his ilk.
The recent publication of the diaries of former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen is an exercise in what, in Jewish circles, we might call lashon hara – gossip.
Of course, in his case, he is not subject to the halachic laws governing discussion of another person.
Moreover, Pietersen’s particular memoirs appear to be a discussion of what went on behind closed doors, in the England dressing room, and even if they are true, constitute a gross breach of privacy and privilege in his particular case.
The laws of lashon hara, derived from the verse in Leviticus that prohibits bearing tales, actually necessitate the veracity of the particular piece of information conveyed.
There are of course reasons for divulging such information, including danger to a third party, and forms of behaviour which must be exposed for reasons of security or illegality.
However, in Pietersen’s case, even if he were obligated by the law of gossip, he appears to be merely providing this information for his own benefit. It will sell copies of his new book. That is not a defence.
It seems that while he was playing cricket for England he could not win friends and influence people, even when he was the captain.
Now that he ceased to be even tangentially involved with the England cricket team, he’s fast losing friends – and these gossip books will do nothing to rescue his England Test career.