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Royal Prank blood is on everybody's hands

53 Comments
Michael Mullins |  09 December 2012

The weekend's media was dominated by the tragic turn of events in the 2DAY FM royal prank media saga. The 46-year-old British hospital nurse and mother of two who took the prank call was found dead after her apparent suicide.

As the culmination of such a moment of unspeakable sadness, the behaviour of the social and mass media lynch mob was no less shocking and shameful than that of the 2DAY FM 'shock jocks' themselves.

The proliferation of ill-considered opinion is an unfortunate consequence of the advancement of media technology in the 21st century. Comparatively lengthy production processes of the past had a moderating effect on intemperate opinion and its consequences.

In the context of the fast-moving royal prank crisis of the last few days, it would indeed be tragic if shame provoked the shock jocks to follow the lead of the nurse, in line with a fear expressed by beyondblue chairman Jeff Kennett.

While 2DAY FM has a very poor track record in reining in the excesses of its presenters, the station and its shamed employees are not entirely to blame. All parties bear responsibility, including the hospital itself, whose chief executive declared in his measured statement of defence: 'Our nurses are caring, professional people trained to look after patients, not to cope with journalistic trickery of this sort.' 

But why not? It would seem that, in the modern world, accepting royal patients and being vulnerable to media trickery go hand in hand for such an institution. It is surely irresponsible for the hospital not to train its staff to cope with journalistic trickery, and it follows that its CEO is partly to blame when his fails in such preparations and there are tragic consequences.

Trickery and magic has always been integral to the world of entertainment, which often contributes to the healing and wellbeing of those suffering ill-health as much as the care provided by some hospitals. This is perhaps what was on the mind of Prince Charles when he initially joked about the prank with reporters. Indeed professional jesters have always contributed to the good spirits of royal families.

That is one line of argument that is no more far fetched than suggestions that the presenters should have known that the nurse was vulnerable to self-harm and directed their trickery elsewhere. The point is that everybody is to blame and nobody is to blame. In some sense it is a variation on the theme of social sin, which Sandie Cornish wrote about in Eureka Street last week. 

When tragedy occurs, the best and only response is to let cool heads prevail, and take Prince Charles' approach to the fanatics of social and other media, allowing space for a sense of community perspective to emerge. NSW premier Barry O'Farrell went further with his simple but empathetic words surmising that the shock jocks must be feeling 'terrible'. 

'I think there are some people today who are suffering, not just the family of the nurse but those who in some way were involved with what appears to be the trigger for this tragedy.'


Michael MullinsMichael Mullins is editor of Eureka Street.

 

 



Comments

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Submitted comments

I don't think the pranksters did anything wrong at all.

Jim Jones 10 December 2012

Well said, Michael.

Vacy V;azna 10 December 2012

Being of 1931 vintage, I grew up with quaint old ideas about so-called 'good taste' and 'bad taste'. My father's fiercest rebuke would be "Use your judgement, man!" Quaint and old perhaps, but I still think they have some currency. Before I had to put up with the righteous hullaballoo over this issue, I would have said to the broadcasters, "Bad taste, old chap, to take advantage of a distressed pregnancy that could yet issue in miscarriage. If you want to send up royalty, find something else to pick on."

Dr John Bodycomb 10 December 2012

Surely there was more involved in this tragedy than just a prank call. Counselling was surely offered by hospital

Gwen Thomas 10 December 2012

Well said, Michael. It is unlikely that the incident alone was responsible for the tragic death. What I find sad is that it trashes the brand Australia around the world, paints this country as a kind of hoon's paradise, a juvenile society that produces pop singers and actors and little else: can't even win a bloody cricket match against ten men.

Frank 10 December 2012

A beautifully expressed, temperate and humane analysis.

Cassandra 10 December 2012

Much discussion has taken place recently about the role of 'shock jocks' in society. The recent Alan Jones fiasco being the most memorable. It is a great tragedy that the British nurse and mother has lost her life and should give us pause for deep reflection. We all laugh at practical jokes, we all think it's a bit of fun to have a dig at someone. I'd agree that the shock jocks at the centre of this would be feeling terrible - they were not to know the consequences of their actions. It's something children are taught at school - actions have consequences, rights come with responsibilities. You don't know that the person you shout at in a road rage, the person you snub because you're too busy, the person you push in front of in the queue may have mental health issues. It's not something written on their foreheads, or revealed in their voice. Maybe a gentler, more caring approach generally may make a slight difference.

Pam 10 December 2012

I agree that the behaviour of the 'social and mass media lynch mob' over this incident was appalling. Many people seem to think that sending a tweet is the equivalent of phoning a friend with a burst of anger about something, but of course it is a public document requiring responsibility and some elementary form of 'media ethics'. In this case, the tweeters et al expect a restraint from the pranksters which they do not exercise themselves.

Rodney Wetherell 10 December 2012

I agree with Michael Mullens. While there is certainly a question over the morality and possible legality of recording and broadcasting a conversation recorded without permission, the consequences of this prank could not have been foreseen and no malice applied, unlike so much of the other mendacious material that is so often deliberately churned out by commercial radio.

David Ransom 10 December 2012

The ranting Lord 'whatever' is blustering in the classic Colonel Blimp model - trying to cover up his failures with noise about others. The real fault lies with the Royal Protection mob (Scotland Yard?) Who have failed in their duty. We are very fortunate that a terrorist wasn't involved. Maybe these radio people should be congratulated for waking the authorities up to a gaping hole in their procedures! Meanwhile, the world grieves for the nurse's family - let's hope that other staff get more support from their employer when they are feeling fragile, from either work or outside pressures.

jaymz daash 10 December 2012

'Dear God, forgive Mr. Mullins, for he knows not what he says'. A stooge for the appalling habits of commercial radio and TV stations perhaps? Why else bother commenting in such sympathetic terms including continuing the clearly highly unsuitable phrase 'prank' when commenting on this gross stupidity on behalf, not just of the two behind the mike, but also the managers of the station, right up to and including the Moore-Wilton character. Commercial radio stations exist to prise money from advertisers and feed the ignorance and prejudices of bogans, who apparently continue to endorse the sort of stupidity that passes as 'humour'. Remember the apprentice in NSW who was set on fire at work? A 'prank' no less! As for the radio station management pointing the bone at the hospital management, and by inference the nurse too, talk about the 'mote in the eye', eh? This Godawful radio station should be setting up a trust fund top pay for the funeral expenses, and the continuing family expenses now falling onto others in her family, as a partial token of their understanding of how totally worthless the radio station's contribution to society is and has been so far. naturally, the 'presenters' have to go, but so too should the chairman of the board.

janice wallace 10 December 2012

So few in our society believe in a loving god and the power of prayer. Those of us who believe in confession and absolution are blessed.

peter 10 December 2012

Intention is important when considering morality. The radio jocks of course did not intend to do harm, but they did intend to trick the receptionist and/or nurses they spoke to. It was foreseeable that if the trick worked, their interlocutors would be humiliated, perhaps disciplined, but certainly embarrassed and identified by the press, indeed the whole western world. What the radio hosts did was wrong. We all do wrong. They deserve our sympathy as much as the deceased woman and her loved ones. A tragedy all round.

George 10 December 2012

Please hold comments until after the Post Mortem..Drugs?.or just unstable?...Would you like your wife in such a security lax hospital...what if it had been terrorists?...Perhaps the "youngsters" should be thanked for exposing such a low security problem..all she said was."i will put you through Maam. qid.

john m costigan 10 December 2012

By saying "everybody is to blame, no-one is to blame" Mullins effectively says that there is nothing to be done, it was one of those things, and there are no lessons to be learnt. The only clear blame is directed to the hospital. It was one of the least helpful comments/analysis that I can remember reading.

PHILIP NEWMAN 10 December 2012

Here I am falling under the magic and trickery of the Internet by daring to comment on the magic and trickery of the Internet. I know about the telephone prank. I know about the suicide of the 46 year old British nurse. What I don't know is what the nurse was like just before the phonecall and what life for her was like after the phonecall was revealed to be a prank. I could speculate. I could imagine. I could be completely wrong. But it would seem her mental and emotional state was so affected that she could no longer face life. It seems to me from this distance that here is a case of post traumatic stress disorder. This was an unforeseen consequence of the prank. But having said that I ask myself what was the purpose of the prank? Did it have a target? Was it self-indulgence? Was it aimed at amusing young people who love to see stuffy upper-class pretensions exposed? You are quite right, Mr Mullins, it is time to let cool heads prevail. Typing this comment has help reduce the temperature of my hot head.

Uncle Pat 10 December 2012

Agree with your article but surely the prank raises questions about whether anything is sacrsanct and off limits any more. I don't read anyone challenging this.

Mark Needham 10 December 2012

Very unfortunate. The nurse obviously had other issues and this trick, and/or her treatment as a consequence of 'being tricked', was the last straw. The radio presenters were after a laugh. They didn't get one.

Bernadette 10 December 2012

I don't know anything about Today FM, but I don't think I'd put them in the same class of shock jocks as Alan Jones and John Laws whose shock tactics are personal and attack people's character for political gain. It was meant to be a harmless prank - any other analysis is up to the people who knew the nurse closely - not the media. It used to be there was a media policy not to report suicides to prevent stimulating negative thoughts in vulnerable people - but recent discussions/forums have questioned that and suggested a change of tactic in lifting the taboo might be more effective. After all, what have we got to lose? The secrecy surrounding stress, negative thoughts and depression is what leads to desperation in the first place. Let's get that Free Hugs campaign going again and starting showing some feelings and warmth towards each other. Too much bad news.

AURELIUS 10 December 2012

One other aspect is not mentioned here: what kind of society is Britain's when, just because a royal is involved, someone is driven to suicide? Had Kate Wales been a footballer's wife, would this tragedy have occurred? I doubt it. If there is fault, it lies at the heart of a fawning, they-can-do-no-wrong, they-are-so-special attitude towards people who are just like you and me.

ErikH 10 December 2012

The fundamental here is lack of respect - that everything is subject to my individualism with no thought of consequences, apart from greater exposure for the perpetrators. The contrast between Australian larrickinism and UK form could not be more stark. Why should nurses have to be trained to answer the phone because of crass money-makers? Hopefully 'feeling terrible' will enlighten those who thought they were so clever.

hilary 10 December 2012

Without trying to defend what goes on at that radio station (and there are at least some things in their track record I would NOT want to defend), I really don't think this prank (in itself) was all that bad. What might have been bad (and I can only speculate) was the response to it. Was the poor nurse hauled over the coals? Was she made to feel worse by a British media that takes their royals too seriously (and yes, that is a problem with much larger consequences than can be canvassed here). It is possible - though unlikely in our present society - that the nurse could have been encouraged to laugh, knowing she would only be judged on her nursing. That would be much healthier. She is after all, a nurse. It is not up to her to take on the security issues of Scotland Yard and all the royal humbug. If we jump on pranksters, be careful. We may lose a source for some of the best critiques, such as the Chaser's expose of the gap in the security around the APEC meeting in Sydney. The death is a terrible, terrible tragedy but I find it very hard to believe that the prank alone might have led to it. I wonder if there is a bit of a cover-up around the hospital's response and whether this poor nurse might have been made a scapegoat. It's just speculation, of course, but I feel it is worth asking.

Wendy 10 December 2012

'Our nurses are caring, professional people trained to look after patients, not to cope with journalistic trickery of this sort.' It is surprising that KEVII Hospital, with its roster of patients, did not have protocols in place for dealing with telephone enquiries, and it is disappointing that KEVII's pastoral care for its personnel did not serve to circumvent this tragedy. Indeed, the failure of that pastoral care has proven a boon for the ensuing witch-hunt. The only part of this sage that is not surprising is the depth of mindlessness in Australian commercial radio.

David Arthur 10 December 2012

Thanks Michael for your article. As some have said, intention is what constitutes guilt or responsibility. Surely these clowns did not intend suicide, nor could they really. However there are so many unpredictable consequences of modern communication that discretion ought have a serious workover. Shock jock radio survives because there is a market to be shocked, "Isn't it awful. Did you hear?" However this sad case highlights several of the systemic problems. Seemingly the hospital is trying to blame rather than admit that they had no efficient protocol for special calls, nurses should not be answering phones and the due care of nurses is the responsibility of a hospital employer. When someone suicides, though, the answers are 6 feet under the ground. That is where the authentic information lies. Nonetheless the speculators come out in force with their projections. There is a school of psychologists who say that every suicide is a murder at some level of intention and the speculation should include the person/s whom the suicide will hurt most.

Michael D. Breen 10 December 2012

If only the secular media could write like this, with a cool head and reasoned understanding for all concerned!
There was no reported reprimand from either the hospital or the Royal firm so it would seem, as you so rightly put it, it was everybody's and nobody's fault. Good luck to you sir!

Paddy 10 December 2012

If the young girl Kyle Sandilands interviewed on air about her being raped as a young girl had committed suicide, I could understand the outcry.

But the current reaction is simply hypocrisy - and many angry people are looking for someone to lash out at.
Please keep the pranks coming - keep up the mindless, the inane, the lighhearted, the outrageous - I'm sure the distraction and humour saves more lives than it destroys. (Remember the word "humour" shares the same word origin as "human," "humility," and best translated by the English word "humus")

AURELIUS 10 December 2012

Why doesn't every one shut-up until the British Coroner has made the official finding concerning this nurses' death. Then we can have informed comment.

Hugh Proctor 10 December 2012

Gwen Thomas 09 Dec 2012
Surely there was more involved in this tragedy than just a prank call. Counselling was surely offered by hospital****************
I suppose we will never know what kind of reaction was displayed by the hospital authorities towards the nurse who took the call, and what affect that had on her. They are not likely to admit to contributing to her over-reaction to being deceived.


Robert Liddy 10 December 2012

" I'd agree that the shock jocks at the centre of this would be feeling terrible - they were not to know the consequences of their actions."

This is an interesting topic and I see quite a few trying to justify the actions of the presenters by continuing to subscribe to the legitimacy of the prank, by continuing to refer to it as that.

I am reminded of those who stand in the magistrates courts every Monday, having had a skinful sometime between Friday and Sunday night. Their brief pleads on their behalf, the car wrecked, people injured, property of others damaged, police abused, paramedics put at risk and our taxes plundered through their gross stupidity and thoughtless behaviour.

The explanation? "Your Honour, my client says he had too much strong drink, has never been in trouble before and is very sorry for his behaviour, he didn't mean to hurt anyone."

No, but he did get plastered and drive his car, and was in the company of others who were laughing too.

Sometimes, it is worth considering the range of outcomes that might arise from a particular course of action.

Pranks are designed to achieve some degree of hurt to others.

Andy Fitzharry 10 December 2012

I would think (after my experience working in the English Health System)that the hospital Administration would have come down very heavily indeed on the poor nurse, perhaps even threatening dismissal and that she being a "sensitive' person and recent immigrant to the UK was overwhelmed to the point of suicide.Speculative, perhaps. But rest assured the morons running the place have to blame someone and what better scapegoat than a powerless outsider who doesn't know the system.

No point in holding one's breath, however, waiting for the truth to emerge because the system will do all it can to protect itself and whatever reputation it perceives itself to possess, regardless of who is damaged in the process. The poor nurse was doomed from the outset, one way or t'other.

john frawley 10 December 2012

A bit premature to diagnose post traumatic stress-especially in the aftermath of a suicide a few days after the event.

Agree with John Frawley that the poor woman got it in the neck from someone a few notches above her in the food chain, probably to save his or her hide.

A very sorry tale indeed. may she rest in peace.

JR 10 December 2012

I could not agree less with the sentiment of this article. 2 Day Fm has a history of poor judgement in the interest of ratings. To suggest that nurses' job description should include dealing with such sections of the media borders on the absurd.

Jennifer 10 December 2012

Here, here Michael Mullens! Thank you for such a common sense approach.

Kim-Maree Goodwin 10 December 2012

Good to see a cool head and a commonsense approach here. We do tend to leap aboard our steeds of self-righteousness and gallop off in all directions - but why do we need to fix blame on one (or two) persons? The radio hosts did no more than has been done a hundred times before, with no worse result than an embarrassed blush. Didn't we all laugh at the Chaser in their day? Perhaps we all need to deal more gently with each other and think before we act.

Joan Seymour 10 December 2012

Interesting to see who lines up with support for this 'prank', which could also be called a jape or a practical joke. 'practical joke' — n a prank or trick usually intended to make the victim appear foolish. Now, it's true the definition merely says 'appear foolish' not 'appear dead', so to that extent the two japesters would probably not have thought that a possibility. But it does rather highlight the underlying nastyness of such practical jokes, played to such massive audiences, and extends far beyond the mistakes of these two from the radio station, to include all those in this tawdry industry who seek to exploit others in such a manner. This act of the radio station was foolish and ill-advised without the ending it has had, so far, and it is time we were not suffering such acts of stupidity from our 'media personalities'. We could still manage humour, but maybe it needs to be just a little more subtle than obvious, surely? Of course, it would help if the 'born to rule' crew were not extended such mindless adulation, practically of the level due to the gods, but that is another story altogether, and perhaps part of the argument for a republic?

janice wallace 10 December 2012

Jennifer, disagree if you must but unfortunately nurses (and other health professionals that matter) do have to deal with the media ( and next of kin whether real or bogus) on a daily basis.

JR 11 December 2012

It is easier to forgive when people admit responsibility, show that they understand the wrong they have committed and express remorse. The presenters have gone some way in this direction after hiding (they are adults: surely they cannot say they were hidden by the station) for some days, but the station is pursuing a strategy of deflection. Taking responsibility away from perpetrators is disabling. Forget social sin. It's unhelpful. These people are to blame. You are not and I am not. Destroying the concepts of blame and personal responsibility robs us of our humanity. It doesn't make us more caring or reasonable. Yes, there has been an element of hue and cry about this tragedy, but it's been over-stated by apologists for the dopey duo. Most of the criticism I've read has been very reasonable. People seem to be fed up with consequences so seldom being faced by appropriate parties, whether in business, politics, the Church, or in private life.

Rocco 11 December 2012

with you all the way, Michael. A very sad outcome. Hopefully all the so-called journos/ commentors will now put down their 'swords

john steer 11 December 2012

The most sensible piece of journalism on this subject amid all the inane comments and judgements by commentators on social media and indeed even the official press

Pat 11 December 2012

JR I said nurses should not have to deal with such sections of the media, ie with stations like 2 Day FM who have a long history of tasteless ratings seeking forms of foolishness. I did not say they don' t have to deal with the media ie in general.

Jennifer Herrick 11 December 2012

It always annoys me when a tragedy, such as the suicide by the nurse, that there is so much media speculation without having access to all the facts. I have dealt with people threatening suicide and known people who most unexpectedly, committed suicide. Others made a number of "failed" attempts, but in the end succeeded either intentionally or accidentally, I don't know. I would like a lot more information on the nurse and her culture before commenting on any aspect of this tragedy. I don't condemn the pranksters and hope and pray that they are not made scapegoats for the nurse's sad solution to a problem. There were surely other solutions for her. Perhaps part of the speculation would be a good hard look at the management of the hospital and how they treated her.

John Morris 11 December 2012

Well JOHN MORRIS, da media has never let the facts get in the way of a good story before, so why should you be annoyed now? (By the way, ES is part of da media too) It's a pity people weren't as passionate about church sex abuse victims who've suicided - now these are real cases and will eventually be heard soon.

AURELIUS 11 December 2012

I wonder how much dressing down the unfortunate nurse received from her hospital superiors. I could write a script for it including words like "brought ridicule and shame on us", "made us look totally inefficient and unprofessional". I wonder if he reminded her of her own good qualities as they were given in the official press release?

There is something inherently weird about royal watching in the first place. Do we still believe they have blue blood? While the dj's were silly, I'm sure they have been scapegoated. Very convenient that they were colonials.

Dianne Mullin 11 December 2012

Firstly, isn't there something a bit wrong with someone, anyone, attempting to get private information about a person who is so sick they have been hospitalised? regardless of background? Isn't this really a no-go zone? Secondly ....where is the judgment here? The broadcasters (and probably their producers) are not kids. They are in their thirties, probably university educated, probably experienced broadcasters and trained in media law and their obligations as broadcasters. Wasn't there at least one voice to say this was not a good idea? I think there is a lot wrong....before we even go to the horrific outcome of their actions.

Wiliam Miller 11 December 2012

Who was the intended butt of the "joke"? Kate? The other Royals, so crassly impersonated? Whoever answered the phone? No, it was surely The Authorities, being made to look foolish - as in the example of The Chaser at APEC. But the potential victims were: the patient whose condition was unknown, potentially serious and may have deteriorated under intense stress; her husband, whose mother's untimely death was inextricably linked with media exploitation; whoever answered the phone and was hopefully lured into inappropriate disclosure.

Until the news of the nurse's death, it seemed that it had all been a huge joke - The Authorities (whoever they were seen to be) had been made fools of and there was great international publicity for the radio station and the DJ's. WIN!

Suddenly one of the potential victims is revealed as an actual victim. The picture changes, and the huge joke becomes a tragedy. It then becomes necessary to find a target for everybody's sorrow and anger: the two DJs - themselves hapless victims of the media culture which sees all publicity as good and revenue-making, and looks no further. Simplistic thinking assumes the death to have been suicide and the prank entirely the cause.

There are many unknowns in all this (what of the nurse to whom the call was transferred - we know nothing of her/him) but what is completely evident is the lack of systematic security for a high profile patient in a British hospital, whose security and PR departments should have had effective systems in place to cope with exactly such an expected media intrusion. This is standard practice in well run hospitals.

In this case such hospital-based security should have been the second tier after the standard Royal Security. FAIL!
Not yet in the saturation coverage in the general media of this awful story, have I heard this aspect commented on. Until reading Michael Mullins' article it has seemed like a case of The Emperor's New Clothes.
If the hospital and Scotland Yard are in communication with the radio station it is hopefully to uncover the details of the systems failures that led to this breach of security.
Now the public is so vocally outraged, will the prevailing publicity-at-all-costs media culture change??
I certainly hope so, but I won't hold my breath.

Anne M 12 December 2012

If WILLIAM MILLER's extremely negative spin on the incident is anything to go by, we should be very scared - scared of losing our sense of humour. The intention of the radio pair wasn't to get any private information - that was just a pretext to give them an excuse to put on a phoney accent and make a fool of themselves. Even Prince Charles thought it was funny.
If humour and pranks are restricted or banned because of this - the world will be a colder, sadder place.

There is already a new sterile environment in many of our institutions which has been set up to prevent human interaction and contact because of child sex abuse cases.
Hugs are banned - now we want to ban laughter and fun.

AURELIUS 12 December 2012

This (the pank) is not about who's to blame or whose fault it is. Rather it is about acknowledging one's responsibility. In a TV interview, the perpetrators said that they were only doing their job i.e. following orders. They apologised profusely but did not accept responsibility of their actions. Jeff Kennet's concern for the welfare of the DJs, however well meaning is, nonetheless, lacking passion for the deceased nurse. The action of the DJs that led to a tragic end is symptomatic of a society that is preoccupied with 'winners' and 'losers. The 'have nots' strive to be like what they perceived as the 'haves'. In the meantime, success is often measured by the a acquisition of wealth rather than the attainment of a civilised behaviour. From the behaviour of moronic urban taggers to CEOs who run companies to the ground and religious leaders, we become a society that is in denial. We say sorry but we are not responsible for our misdeeds. Perhaps 'blame' is not the issue here. It is our world view that is not in concert with civilised behaviour. Let us all begin by taking responsibility for our actions.

Alex Njoo 13 December 2012

So Aurelius wants fun at any cost. Someone has died, but heaven forfend that we should be denied our moiety of humour. Aurelius, do a reality check. That's not hard: just read ALEX NJOO's post.

Cato 13 December 2012

In this story there are no winners. The social media are encouraged to believe that they are beyond all boundaries of constraint. Decency is beyond their ken. British tabloid media are no better taking the opportunity to remind Australians that we are a second class colony and a derivative of the old block. The hospital administration failed in their duty to protect their patients and they failed the nurse by not recognising the need to prepare staff for privacy training.The British people have been shown to have failed to grow up and regard the 'royals' as no more or less important than anyone else. If you take yourself as seriously as the British do then you will naturally be the butt of pranks. It has ever been thus and so it should be.

graham patison 14 December 2012

Here we have people playing the blame game. Are these journalists responsible for a security breach in England? We have people supporting a criminal people smuggling industry which has caused the death of hundreds. The supporters of people smugglers know the outcome of their activity beforehand. In my opinions,some churches and welfare organisations have a lot more “blood on their hand” then all the journalists in Australia combined.

Beat Odermatt 14 December 2012

Strange isn't it. Nobody has mentioned the word "bullying". That is what this type of prank is. A girl is in hospital suffering from a condition that can very easily result in miscarriage and is also a risk to the mother. It was totally selfish behaviour by the radio people. Even quite apart from the horror of the nurse's suicide the phone call was self-promoting. Saying that public figures are "fair game",in spite of the clearly publicity attracting behaviour of "celebrities", is mere self justification. Funny that many of our best comics are self-deprecating, not other deprecating. By the way I am not against pranks but engage in them at your own and your friends expense. Laugh at yourself, not at others. Just get it clear - if it is at someone outside your own circles expense it is without question a form of BULLYING.

Mary Hoban 14 December 2012

Thanks Michael, well written. Very good point about the responsibility of the hospital to provide adequate training for their staff.

Janice 14 December 2012

CATO, I did not say I support "fun at any cost". I am merely saying that the prank in question could not reasonably be expected to end in such a tragic consequence. There are many other pranks and bullying that I would not condone for fear of traumatizing someone. I think Alex Njoo is simplyfying the issue and this prank is a bad example to use to arrive as his viewpoint. The tragic suicide was not caused by the prank itself - although it may have set the ball rolling.

AURELIUS 16 December 2012

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