NSFW: Why don't they just keep their clothes on?

NSFW is a weekly op-ed column in which I talk about whatever's on my mind. Sometimes it'll have something to do with the technology we cover here on iMore; sometimes it'll be whatever pops into my head. Your questions, comments and observations are welcome.

In August Robin Williams killed himself. This week Joan Rivers died. Now many people are hauling out the Rule of Threes trope, wondering which comedian is going to die next. If you want to watch a comic die, just go to open mike night! cymbal crash Thank you, ladies and germs, I'll be here all week. Tip your waiter and try the veal.

A lot this week has been written about the distribution of naked photos from various celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and others.

We've reported on the news; the implication that Apple's iCloud security was somehow at fault; Tim Cook's denial and announcement that Apple will bolster online security; and we've tried to help our readers who are concerned their pictures might be at risk with helpful how tos and tips.

One thing pops up repeatedly in forum threads and on social media related to this issue that I wanted to address this week: The idea that if the celebs just didn't post their pictures to iCloud or other cloud services, this just wouldn't have happened. You know, if they'd just kept their clothes on, this wouldn't be a problem.

What an offensive, stupid and specious argument to make.

Celebrity sex scandals — including compromising photographs, films and videotapes — have been with us for decades. Even though we're not entitled to know the details of celebrities' lives, some people have an unslakable appetite for the most intimate details of their private lives, and the more prurient and salacious, the better. Otherwise tabloid rags and celebrity magazines wouldn't litter the shelves of cashier stands at supermarkets.

There's big money to be made and notoriety to be had in the distribution and sale of this content. And even if some of these photos hadn't been in the cloud, that doesn't negate potential exposure: There have been plenty of examples of celebrities who have had their phones or hard drives hacked or had private tapes stolen and distributed.

The bottom line is that some people will do anything to get their hands on material like this, whether it's to make a buck or just be the one that has them. One of the details to emerge from this latest incident is that some of the pictures have actually been in underground distribution for quite some time, among private collectors.

The "they just shouldn't have taken those pictures" argument also disregards the role technology plays in our life. Phones and computers are central to the way many of us communicate and stay in touch for business, with friends, with family and with loved ones.

So it should be no surprise — and there should be no shame in accepting — that these devices are occasionally used in sex play, whether it's to capture an alluring image or to record an act. And should we be surprised when it's people who spend their lives in front of cameras?

It's not deviant behavior. It's natural. If you're not comfortable with it yourself, that's absolutely fine. But don't look down your nose at people who feel differently.

Some wags on the Internet have dubbed this latest incident "The Fappening." It's a play on the onomatopoeic word "fap," a synonym for masturbation. It's dismissive and it trivializes something that is very wrong.

Clearly, the onus remains on us to make sure that we've kept any data associated with our most intimiate moments as safe as possible. But let's be plain about what's happened to those women:

They've been violated. Their data has been stolen. Control over their images has been taken away from them.

Celebrities or not, they didn't deserve to have that happen to them. No one deserves that. So don't be part of it. Don't seek out the images. And don't make jokes about it. It's not something to be minimized.

Better safeguards will help. Better security will help. Better personal responsibility will help.

But we can all do more not to perpetuate a culture where women are objectified and commoditized, where privacy is routinely disregarded when it's inconvenient or not to our liking. Is this the world we want to leave our kids? Speaking for myself, my answer is no.

OK. Off my soapbox. I welcome your feedback. Have at it.