Monday, December 10, 2012

the death of Jacintha Saldanha - updated

Jacintha Saldanha's death was 'unforeseeable' claims the boss of the Australian radio station that hoaxed her into taking a call. Perhaps the specific tragedy could not have been predicted, but that doesn't mean that those involved are without blame. 

To begin with, their actions were immoral ab initio. They knew it would certainly upset a sick young woman and her husband. They called a hospital looking for private medical information to which they were not entitled. They lied about who they were. They proudly broadcast, rebroadcast, tweeted, & facebooked the private information once they had it. In another era the husband of young woman would have received no disapprobation if he had given the male party to this action a punch on the nose. 

They claim they thought the call would be rejected. But they recorded it, had their lawyers pronounce judgement as to whether their was a risk they might be prosecuted or sued, and then they used it. But they took no time to consider what the 'collateral damage' of their actions were going to be, how this was going to impact on the hospital staff that they had hoaxed. Given that this 'prank' involved the Royal Family - & particularly since it involved Kate Middleton - it was entirely predictable that this action was going to attract international media attention & arouse public anger.  Attention and anger that the staff neither sought nor were prepared for. It was entirely foreseeable that they were going to be traumatised by the hoax. 

Do the hoxers have blood on their hands? That might be a step too far. Suicide is a complex area. Too complex to simplistically say that one thing was the cause. But they behaved immorally and with callous disregard for others in pursuit of their own interests. 

All they cared about was that for one brief, shining moment they thought they had made a move that would prosper their career. Then it blew up in their faces and their careers might well be over. I wonder are they pondering whether that might have been predictable? Or if their bosses are wondering if the damage done to their business was foreseeable? Ironically, if they had seen it coming they would certainly acted differently. It is a pity that morality, common decency, or concern for the lives & feelings of others did not prompt them to do so. 

And of course there are others involved. Us. Wider society. I wonder if those who provide a market for this kind of intrusion of privacy are pondering at this moment? Do they wonder if there is blood on their hands in any way? Or are those who cheerfully lapped this stuff up now the ones who are calling for the heads of hoaxers?

Because part of the problem here is what we allow to go on in society. Pray about that. Pray for the belatedly sorrowful hoaxers. And please keep Jacintha and her family in your prayers. 

Update: apparently under Australia's broadcasting guidelines, the radio station should have had Jacintha Saldanha's permission in advance before broadcasting her voice (or the voice of the other nurse). They did not have it. They claim to have sought it. But knowing that they were supposed to have the consent of these individuals before they used the recording, they went ahead without it anyway. The only justification for breaching these guidelines would be to claim it was in the public interest. Not an argument that is sustainable in this case. They broke the rules & someone got hurt. As they took legal advice on this, I wonder will they blame their lawyer? But maybe he/she/they will say they didn't see this coming either.

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