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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Nothing funny about prank call fall-out

BAD humour has a habit of going terribly wrong. Pranks and practical jokes rely on causing their victims pain.

EM Anne Pickles
Anne Pickles

From planting a banana-skin slip to making some hapless soul feel foolish, laughter comes at the expense of the one who suffers.

That’s what pranksters want. It’s what they do. For fun.

Deliberate, well-planned pranks are, of course, a form of targeted cruelty. Goodness only knows why any would find them funny.

But they are much loved by radio presenters the world over – or used to be. Makes them look smart and edgy, apparently.

The laughing stopped suddenly last week when nurse Jacintha Saldanha, a victim of a bad practical joke, took her own life, leaving her distraught husband and children to grieve in bitter, heartbroken disbelief.

Now the pranksters are feeling the backlash of their fun. Australian DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian have been seen weeping on TV, apologising and pulling on hairshirts of remorse, having been targeted with accusation, venom and bile – all understandable, natural reaction to the appallingly bad humour that looks to have left blood on their hands.

The pair had pretended to be the Queen and Prince Charles inquiring after the Duchess of Cambridge, who was being treated in hospital for acute morning sickness. Mrs Saldanha had the misfortune to take their call, trust the callers and put them through.

The pair were told about Ms Saldanha’s death in the early hours of Saturday morning.

“It was the worst phone call I’ve ever had in my life,” said Mel Greig, still managing crass disregard for the consequences of her fun – she does at least still have a life.

Consequence is the key to this dreadful tragedy. Every action has one. And it must have occurred to someone in that radio station that playing fast and loose with patients and staff in a hospital for a bit of a laugh had potential for wreaking distressing, if not life-threatening havoc. It produced the worst.

The DJs, foolishly reckless and self-seeking beyond measure, are now receiving counselling and support. They are said to be emotionally fragile, frightened for their own safety. They’re in hiding.

We are asked to feel sympathy for them in their deep, gnawing guilt. And I have tried. I really have.

But in respect for the bereaved, who have lost one they loved dearly to give a couple of kids the kind of belly-laugh that could further their careers, it’s impossible.

Have your say

There is now no place in todays society for thes eso called pranks.We now live in the world of the blame culture.Some of you may say there was no harm intended.Well sadly there is harm due to people not thinking "what if".Breaches of security in all walks of life may seem a jolly good jape.But what happens to the guy or gal who has been tricked or caught out through no fault of their own.I will tell you loss of job,loss of pension,loss of home and then to cap it all marrage break up I know I've seen it.I really hope there is some sort of criminal charges that can be brought against this pair of cretins the least not being manslughter.

Posted by Barrow Lad on 19 December 2012 at 07:32

In hindsight it was a terrible mistake that they're going to have to live with for the rest of their lives but I do have sympathy with them...for reasons for taking your own life this must be up there with the most pointless of reasons and she must've been in a fragile state to begin with... are they to blame for her death? it's a tough one to answer, did they kill her? NO would she still be alive if the prank never happened? POSSIBLY... What I would like to know regardless of "their support of the family" is what was the hospitals role in all this cos I'm sure they never just said "Oh it's ok don't worry about it" I have family members who work within the NHS and even FGH (who the mail slaughter at every oppertunity) have strict protocol when asking for information on family members or friends... you need a passcode that's agreed with the patient and family so surely the Royal family would have a similar protocol

Posted by barrowboy78 on 13 December 2012 at 07:31

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