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The Blame Game: The Royal Phone Prank

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We live in an increasingly pathetic society full of blamers who refuse to shoulder the responsibility of their own actions. In order to actively distract others from scrutinizing our own culpability, we point the finger, shaking it with outrage, at others guilty of well... anything at all. It's a natural reaction to self-induced discomfort.

The age of political correctness and litigation has been dry tinder to this funeral pyre of human frailty and it seems to be getting out of control.

It has become our cultural habit to insist that someone else pay for any misfortune that might befall us, accident or otherwise. But this is not something new. We have begun to slip back into prehistory; a time when a thunder-storm 'had' to have been caused by an angry god. A malformed child 'must' have been punishment for some human crime. Somebody or something was always to blame and when there was no guilty party available, we would create one. That's how religion came about in the first place. We needed someone to take the blame for the whole world and all our actions. It couldn't have been random because we couldn't seek revenge or turn our back on random when things didn't go our way. The concept of original sin was just another loophole so that we didn't have to shoulder the blame for our own human imperfections and terrible choices in life. It was all Adam and Eve's fault.

I read recently of a paedophile priest who, I kid you not, blamed God for making him that way!

This whole Royal Prank scandal is yet another case of the public and other media scrambling to find a scapegoat. The D.J's, the radio management, the hospital....the media at large. But, although unpopular an observation to make, only one person was ultimately responsible, it would seem, for the 'prank-victim's' death, and that was herself. There may have been many factors contributing to her decision to take her life. To decide what her mindset and motivations were in absentia is quite disrespectful to all involved. To attribute blame to anyone else in particular is appalling.

Hundreds of prank calls and skits take place around the globe every day. How a person chooses to handle being the butt of a practical joke is really up to them. If Jacintha Saldanha chose to commit suicide and leave behind her children because of the public humiliation of making a fairly minor mistake in the grand scheme of things, then that was an extreme choice but it was the one she made. But we don't really know all the contributing factors. All we do know is that she chose to kill herself.

When that other most famous of Royals, Diana Spencer, the former Princess of Wales, was killed in a car accident, the conspiracy theories were prolific. It couldn't have simply been a case of a drunk driver speeding away from cameras and two passengers who had chosen not to wear seatbelts losing their lives largely because they overlooked that simple act of buckling up. Minor mistakes can cost lives. Those left hurting feel uncomfortable about directing their anger and confusion at the deceased and need to find someone else to be the smoking gun.

Blame is an element of anger that this modern society is addicted to and it is becoming most dangerously rife in the media. Oh how they burn with indignant self-righteousness.

The British paparazzi are notorious for their blatant disregard for common decency in seeking out a sensational story and are now salivating over their Antipodean comrades embroiled in this mess. When they point a finger, there are three pointed back at themselves.

Michael Jackson's death had to be attributed to someone other than the demanding, drug-addled star himself. After Michael Hutchence was found dead, the media began hounding Sir Bob Geldof who had argued with the singer on the night of his death, as if the act of arguing with someone in a delicate frame of mind, might be tantamount to murder or manslaughter.

The media, and in particular comedy shows, both on radio and television, rely on a certain amount of playful mockery to entertain. Ricky Gervais is merciless with Susan Boyle. Billy Connolly, Chris Rock and Dylan Moran sling mud like frenzied bulls in quicksand. They do it because we like it.

In the initial radio/royal prank, a short phone call, who was really hurt? No-one. Was Kate hurt? The Queen hurt? The nurses hurt? No-one was actually injured or sacked. The Royals took it in good humour. How people later chose to define the situation didn't change the fact that no measurable damage was done initially. Some benign information about a woman with excessive nausea and vomiting was leaked.

People make mistakes at work every day. Had Jacintha Saldanha not made an error of judgment, the first of two, the prank would never have seen the light of day. It was the media at large that amplified those mistakes into something huge and raw. They took a silly prank call and ran with
it. Ultimately the forty-six year old woman may have decided it was so big as to be the defining point of her existence. If so, that was her tragic miscalculation.

Because the real tragedy is that two weeks later it would likely have all been forgotten. The greater tragedy is, that in the media it probably still will be.

Perhaps pranking is wrong. Perhaps putting honour and pride before family is wrong. Perhaps the radio station should have gotten clearance. Perhaps the hospital should have had tighter privacy rules. But the bottom line is that the most heinous crime against decency that has occurred, is that
people who don't know the D'J's and don't know the bereaved family or the deceased, have decreed who is responsible for a suicide. What arrogance.

To blame anyone for a suicide is to accuse someone of murder and without any concrete justification that is libellous and cruel to all parties involved. The media did not champion Jacintha in life - they should not be so righteous and hypocritical to do so now!!