Privacy and the public’s right to know

Today, the press are avidly reporting about the personal life of an NFL player. You all know whom I am speaking of because the reports are the “news of the day”.

Who cares if someone else’s personal life is ripped to shreds? After all, this player is notoriously difficult to deal with. He is not a “nice” man, according to some.

We all should care.

First, the news reports could be erroneous. Medicine can have strange reactions on any of us. Sometimes aberrant behaviour is merely the body’s attempt to cope with a new chemical imbalance, often caused by drugs — and, yes, even prescribed drugs can have this effect.

Secondly, EVERYONE deserves to have their privacy, especially their medical privacy, guarded. This is a story about an individual and the problem is not linked to the public’s safety at all. Whether a police report contains such information or not, some information does not belong in the public domain. This story is one of them.

Thirdly, where is the advantage to the public, or individual, by the reporting of this story? If this person did attempt suicide, the public humiliation is not going to help him out of his depression. If the person did NOT attempt suicide, this story forever taints the player’s reputation. The only person helped by revealing this news is the reporter himself (or herself).

How terrible that someone disregards another person’s rights to privacy, possible future health, and even career, in a frantic drive to be “first” to break a purported tragedy! In this case, the public’s right to know is dwarfed, or should be, by the victim’s right to deal with this issue in his own time and way.

Whether it becomes public knowledge simply by appearing on the police blotter is immaterial. All of us should consider whether our demand for such stories is worth the cost to the human being suffering the tragedy.

Shame on our legal system for not protecting the privacy of every citizen from career-driven reporters.

Shame on the media for promoting this story with such gleeful avidity.

Shame on us for not telling the media to keep their nose out of someone’s private misery.

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