The censorship issue continues. Is last week's pre-trial Victorian Supreme Court ruling that newspapers cannot reveal the names of three AFL players who tested positive to illegal drugs a blow to free speech?
Not if there's still some semblance of difference between what we consider private and public.
There's no doubt that opinions pertaining to what newspapers can and cannot publish often vary wildly, and in ninety-nine percent of cases I'll fall on the "go right ahead" side of things, but a certain line must be drawn.
When the decision is based around a situation in which private results of a medical test are revealed to the public, I think the line is clear.
Yes, drugs are illegal (at least, the ones in this instance are).
This should have little bearing, however; if the players were before a court of law then there would be no question to the public's right to knowledge. But this is not the case. Instead, an in-house procedure by the AFL has been leaked to the media, and publication of the results violates the players' rights for no reason other than tabloid gossip.
If the AFL - or the clubs themselves - had chosen to release the information, it would be a different matter. The players are contracted employees who are aware of their obligations to their clubs and the AFL, and one of those obligations is to abide by the drug code. Yet with obligations come rights, and those rights, here, are the players' rights to privacy until they, or their contracted employers, choose otherwise.
The newspapers, nor anybody else, have no more right to publish that information than to publish your personal medical records.