So Kanye West got arrested for apparently breaking a paparazzo’s camera–updates at 24/7! As a nonfamous person who hates having his picture taken and who defiantly unlinks all Facebook pictures tagged with his name, not to mention being someone who just likes being left inside his own head in most public situations (including parties), I can only imagine the special kind of hell of not being able to go anywhere without having a camera stuck in my face. If I was as famous as Kanye I’d be in Howard Hughes territory by now.

I’m not especially sympathetic to the idea that celebrities, as people who seek fame or voluntarily accept it in exchange for certain benefits, have ceded on some abstract level the right to reasonable expectations of being left the fuck alone in public. It doesn’t follow that because Kanye West allows people to consume and profit from his visage in certain controlled contexts–videos, concerts, magazine covers–that anyone has the right to do so in any context. That’s speaking abstractly and morally, of course, about How I Think The World Should Work. Whether or not people like Kanye West should have any legal recourse is a much different issue.

The state of California, where he was arrested, and its more celeb-dense cities have tried (with very little success) to create and strengthen anti-paparazzi laws, for sensible and defensible reasons. Hordes of commercial photographers can be a public safety and welfare liability: “roadblocks and an escort by at least a dozen motorcycles and squad cars were needed to prevent photographers from documenting what became the second trip by [Britney Spears] to the hospital in a month.” That $25K trip, as the article details, inspired a LA councilman and former cop to draft a law that top cop William Bratton called “unenforcable.” Californian lawmakers have had a hell of a time trying to write anti-paparazzi laws, because it’s just really hard to make them specific (see the bit about vagueness here), non-discriminatory, and permissable under the First Amendment.

I don’t have an answer here, but law students out there should know that anyone who can bring some Solomonesque wisdom to this dilemma will likely find him- or herself highly sought after. I suggest beginning with the fact that cameras steal your soul.

PS: I love this kind of inexplicable inverted-pyramid explication: He is known for flashes of temper and for speaking his mind. During a telethon to raise money for victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, West said: ” George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”

PPS: It’s worth mentioning here that if anyone has managed to balance their anonymity with the demands of being a pop star, it’s probably Daft Punk. If you are a musician and are going to be famous at some point in the future, take heed.