piranha: red origami crane (Default)
[personal profile] piranha
for anyone else who lives under a rock, apparently a couple of australian shock-jock DJs prank-called a nurse who had been caring for the duchess of cambridge in hospital, pretending to be family members, and faked their way into getting information about her condition. they then put the recorded call on the air (with consent of their management). ha ha ha, funny, right?

the nurse committed suicide. nobody knows for sure why, but common reasoning is that she was so humiliated that she couldn't handle it.

the backlash from the public has been pretty decisive; the two shock-jocks appear to have been in for a shock of their own at the reaction. they deleted their twitter accounts, and their facebook walls are full of hate mail. some of the world media seem to be doing renewed soul searching about their ethics. but the radio network in question, not so much. "Southern Cross Austereo Chief Executive Rhys Holleran told a news conference in Melbourne on Saturday that the company would work with authorities in any investigation. He said he was 'very confident' that the radio station had done nothing illegal."

"The media fallout from the tragedy could extend beyond Australia’s shores, said British radio presenter Steve Penk, who has made a career out of prank calls. 'I think it will probably be the death of the wind-up phone call. I think (British media regulator) Ofcom will wrap it in so much red tape that it will make it almost impossible to get these things on the air,' he told Sky News."

and now there is backlash to the backlash, all about how some people can't take a joke, and how you'd have to be "unstable" if you didn't just laugh it off.

this just points out once again how out of touch my own ethics are with the mainstream. yeah, it may not have been illegal, but IMO most pranks done to embarrass or humiliate people -- whether or not they result in tragedy -- are unethical, because they are done without the person's consent. they are unethical even if the person laughs it off. (we all know how often such laughter is just a way to not let them see you sweat, to cover up how you really feel). nobody in my circles does pranks. and i am... not exactly surprised, but non-plussed that this is apparently still an uncommon attitude. because most people are upset that the nurse committed suicide; if she hadn't, they'd probably not be anywhere as het up, and they'd laugh at the prank.

steve penk up there sounds upset that he might not be able to continue with his career, a career that is built on using other people to make fun of. "Austereo’s Holleran said that the company was concerned for the welfare of the radio hosts. 'These people aren’t machines; they’re human beings. We’re all affected by this.'" -- no shit sherlock? HIS people are human beings? what about the nurse? what about the duchess of cambridge? they're also human beings. they were fair game for public humiliation -- and hey, it's not illegal, that's all that matters? the total media frenzy about the royals is a constant violation of their rights to privacy IMO. it's disgraceful. the public may be interested, but it is NOT in the public's interest to know every detail of their lives.

the *poing* wrote a good post about this, titled "do you speak consent". and i am reminded of this guy craig in ssm, who many years ago claimed that "all humour is cruel". then, my response was that cruel humour is just a failure of imagination. but it goes deeper than that.

if i don't laugh at such pranks, at racist or sexist jokes, and jokes that are made at other people's expense, it's not my sense of humour that's lacking -- that's actually quite well developed, and delights especially in puns, weird allusions, and lateral thinking. it's the joker's sense of ethics, zir empathy, and zir respect for the other person's humanity that's lacking.

If you want to use someone else, you have to ask first. It's not a hard concept. indeed. your fun does not trump another person's dignity. this should be in the code of ethics for every radio station. time to grow up.


(quotes are from reuters.)

on 2012-12-09 20:10 (UTC)
necturus: 2016-12-30 (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] necturus
How do we know that the nurse's suicide had anything to do with the phone call?

In the United States, it's not legal to call someone and put him or her on the radio without his or her consent. Some stations do it anyway, figuring that a few thousand dollars in fines is just part of the cost of doing business. More often, though, it's faked, and everyone but the audience is in on the joke. You can get in trouble even for that, especially if your prank causes lots of people to call the police.

on 2012-12-09 21:39 (UTC)
xiphias: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] xiphias
How do we know that the nurse's suicide had anything to do with the phone call?

We don't KNOW. But it can't possibly have helped. She was involved in (although not primarily responsible for) a horrific breach of privacy -- giving out private medical information that was then broadcast on the radio. The primary victim of this "prank" was the Duchess of Cambridge, but everyone else dragged into it was also a victim.

She was tricked into doing a thing which is directly against everything a medical professional stands for. That CAN'T be good for someone's state of mind.

on 2012-12-09 21:37 (UTC)
submarine_bells: jellyfish from "Aquaria" game (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] submarine_bells
Prank calls have been part of the repertoire of some Australian radio stations for as long as I can remember. I've loathed them for at least that long, for much the reasons you describe. If they finally vanish under mass opprobium, it won't be a moment too soon.

on 2012-12-10 13:06 (UTC)
frith: Yellow pony with yellow mane, suspicious look (FIM Applejack)
Posted by [personal profile] frith
I put less emphasis on consent and a lot more emphasis on that these radio prank calls are unethical and cruel. Yes, explicit consent must be obtained prior to broadcasting, but cruelty should not be hip or cool.

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