You know when pranks are the most fun? When you’re a stupid kid at sleepaway camp and someone short sheets your bed, or sticks your fingers in a bowl of water, or puts toothpaste on your face, and when you find out, you’re allowed to give the requisite three punches to the arm. Yes, this is when pranks are basically just goofy little things most kids go through in the process of bonding and finding camaraderie with their fellow kid maniac friends.
Know when pranks aren’t fun? Well, when we’re not talking about multi-millionaires like George Clooney and Matt Damon, natch. When you’re an adult and someone can literally get hurt in the process of suffering through a prank; whether it’s unabashed humiliation or worse the loss of one’s reputation, job, valuables, or even life. Yes, this is when pranks can be dangerous; made all the worse if the prank has collateral damage affecting not just the target but anyone who comes in contact with said target. And this is what happened a couple days ago when two Australian DJs posed as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles in order to gain information about the well-being of the Duchess of Cambridge as she was hospitalized for severe morning sickness. You can justifiably say that the palace and Scotland Yard are primed enough to be able to deal with the run-of-the-mill overzealous radio jerk, but a regular citizen going about their work day at a hospital? Not likely. Tragically we learned this morning the nurse who took the call has committed suicide in the aftermath of the prank. From all appearances the prank which made international news and which may or may not have resulted in some unknown ramification for the prankee can be listed as an attributing factor in this woman’s death.
At this point, it’s unknown if the woman suffered from any other mental ailments, but we can just imagine the burden she must have carried as a health practitioner to have been fooled by imposters into unknowingly breaking the Hippocratic Oath and being the catalyst for the divulgence of sensitive and private information involving the monarchy of England.
The point of this post isn’t to so much argue the dichotomy of suicide as it pertains to right and wrong, or to get into a whole debate about whether the cause justifies the action, but to say rather that there are reactions for every action. And when something is done without regard to how it will impact those on the periphery there is always a risk that the outcome will be more horrible and significant than originally imagined — which is why there are some very thin lines between pranking and bullying that can be drawn. It’s not always so easy to just write the action off as just “goofing around” until someone gets hurt. And this was one of those things that appeared to have one of the more base opportunistic motivations involved, including the thrill of the chase and the gloating in success, all maximized for entertainment value.
We get the impression that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge despite their stature would probably enjoy some semblance of normalcy in their lives. After all, Kate was admitted to a hospital instead of being frittered with in some secluded part of Buckingham Palace where they surely could’ve had a team of doctors deployed to her service amid swirling secrecy and closing ranks. And it seems it was this possible yearn for wanting to be like other expectant, but concerned, parents that left the door open for someone banking on reduced security to attempt to pounce on regular citizens.
As it stands now the Twitter accounts of the DJs has been deleted and the pranksters themselves are unable to be reached for comment giving rise to speculation that they’ve been fired, especially since the prank recording was not cleared by the radio station’s lawyers. However, a statement from the radio station is reportedly forthcoming.
For their part, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said in a statement they were “deeply saddened” by the death of the nurse, named Jacintha Saldanha.