Although sport is not the forte of Tasmanian Times, may I raise a matter of sport and the law and the media which I believe is most unsporting.
It’s about the recent Front Page publication by News Ltd papers of photographs showing a teenage Aboriginal footballer apparently sniffing cocaine several years ago.
The youth is Harley Bennell, a player with the Gold Coast Suns in the Australian Football League.
Bennell hails from dusty Pinjarra in outback West Australia. He has eight brothers and sisters.
One tends already to be on his side.
A hypothetical question: If a similar photo of a News Ltd executive, let’s say hypothetically one of the Murdochs, became available, would it be also be run on Page 1?
One tends to hesitate before answering.
The Launceston Examiner in the days of Edmund Rouse had a policy of publishing the names of drink-drivers … with greatest prominence given to the company’s own executives.
Chairman Rouse, company secretary Brian Clarke, and editor Michael Courtney all popped up in the headlines.
Fair enough. Drink-driving threatens the lives of other people.
But back to young Bennell. His offence threatened no-one other than himself. And it was years ago.
Subsequent media reports suggest that teenage Bennell was seduced into trying cocaine by the adult supposedly caring for him in his own house.
While bearing no ill-will towards News Ltd and no support for the likes of cocaine, one might humbly wish for three things —
1 – That a Murdoch will be copped but escape penalty for sniffing something dodgy, and an appropriate photo published,
2 – That the person who provided the Bennell photos to News Ltd suffers similarly, and
3 – That Harley Bennell successfully uses the Bill Clinton defence: “I did not inhale”.
*Sydney Swans Fan is known to the Editor