“Opinions alter, manners change, creeds rise and fall, but the moral law is written on the tablets of eternity.” ― John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton
Like many people who have been following the news, I am saddened by the suicide of the nurse who fell victim to the prank by the Australian DJs trying to get information about the condition of the Duchess of Cambridge (Kate) who was in the hospital in the early days of her first pregnancy.
Basically, the Australian DJs phoned up the UK hospital, posed as the Queen and the Prince of Wales, trying to get information about Kate’s condition. Somehow, they got away with it and posted the information and the talk on the air. The nurse who fielded the call naturally felt embarrassed over her faux paux, but then the UK and international press whipped it up into a media frenzy and the pressure obviously became too much; the woman committed suicide, leaving behind two children.
Bullying, pranks and practical jokes can, and often do, backfire; causing mental anguish and in some cases, tragedy. But, according to the CEO of the Australian radio station where the hoax originated, what the presenters did was “not against the law”.
Legally, maybe. Morally, not. I believe that those in positions of public influence, and this most certainly includes the press and radio and television media personnel, have a duty to stay within the legal law and the moral law as well. Those in positions of public influence have an obligation to display professional behaviour; they are role models for the public and especially the next generation.
When the quest for ratings trumps common sense and decency to others, we have let our priorities get upside down. My tutor had a saying about how to judge whether what you are about to do (or how you are about to behave) is worthy.
I know the presenters feel bad about the outcome of their prank, but not as bad as the nurse’s teenage sons. Maybe we can all take away from this tragedy a valuable lesson on pranks, hoaxes and bullying. There is no need, they accomplish nothing, and can end very badly.
It’s time for those in positions of influence to behave professionally and become the role models we so desperately need. People matter more than ratings.
Tight Lines . . .
John R Childress