Monday, December 10, 2012

What is it with people?

I'm having one of those "I don't understand the world" days.

The two disc jockeys in Australia who thought it would be a good idea to call the hospital where Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, was being treated for severe morning sickness a few days ago and pretend to be Queen Elizabeth to try to get someone to talk about the Duchess' condition, are now saying that they are "shattered, gutted, heartbroken" that the nurse who took their call and forwarded it to another staff member is dead in mysterious circumstances.

Yes, I know that the prank call is a staple of radio entertainment. I just wish someone would explain to me why this sort of thing is considered so funny. Granted, such pranks do not usually end in a death, but merely in embarrassment for the person or persons pranked. I'm not sure I understand how embarrassing someone became considered funny. Maybe I'm just a wet blanket.

The two DJs claim that they expected to be hung up on, that they figured that "100 people" would have already tried to place similar calls to the hospital, and that their goal was "to be hung up on." They say that they didn't think they would actually get to talk to anyone.

But still...

I think I've got a fairly good sense of humor, and sometimes I laugh at things that are probably inappropriate. We all do, just as we all have different ideas about what is actually inappropriate. But I honestly don't know why anyone would think it appropriate to do what those two DJs did. I assume that Australia has some sort of concept of patient confidentiality, even when that patient is as famous as Catherine is. And I assume that most reasonable people would realize that someone's illness, even a famous person's, is not any of their business and not a good way to get a laugh, even if they "didn't think" they would be told any of that information.

My take is that no one did any thinking before pulling this prank. Full stop.

The chief executive of the company that owns the station the call was made from has said that the outcome of the call, the death of someone over it, could not have been "reasonably foreseen". Maybe so, but I'm not sure that makes any difference. The company has also said that it doesn't think any "relevant law, regulation, or code" was broken by the call. That's the usual song and dance when someone is trying to avoid culpability for something someone working for their company did that was just stupid. "We didn't break the law. Don't blame us."

How about common sense? I don't think there is any of that to be seen in the whole episode.

Then again, I'm not sure that there's much common sense in the world at all these days.

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