Richard Moore: Spare me the hand wringing over DJs

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What a pack of sanctimonious perfect specimens there are out in the world.

And haven't they wormed out of the woodwork in the wake of the tragic suicide of a nurse in the aftermath of a prank radio show joke phone call that went horribly wrong?

Almost everyone's hearts must go out to the family of Jacintha Saldanha - a nurse who worked at the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was confined due to extreme morning sickness - who apparently killed herself after putting through the Australian DJs behind the prank.

The DJs had called the London hospital, pretending to be Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles. They were put through to the ward and got sensitive information given to them.

What they did was neither wrong nor particularly serious and yet they have been taken off air, are under tight security from people wishing to harm them, and are having counselling over the tragedy. And they probably need it, because they would be feeling so terrible after such an incident. But let's look at it in the cold hard light of day.

It was a prank that even had Prince Charles laughing, before the tragedy. As a stunt, it was nowhere near as serious as other far more shocking "pranks" that involved people falsely claiming to have had affairs to upset their spouses live on air to win prizes, or a segment in which a 14-year-old girl revealed that she had been raped.

The chairman of King Edward VII's Hospital, Lord Glenarthur, has written a letter to the Sydney radio station, slamming it and the DJs, and UK police are wanting New South Wales coppers to investigate. However, nothing illegal was done. It was a tragedy but is it all down to that put-through phone call?

Knowing medical bureaucracies as I do, I initially suspected the hospital management would have put Saldanha and the other nurse through a grilling. My thoughts were that hospitals like royal patronage and the managers would have gone feral over the incident. However, Lord Glenarthur has stated the nurses were not being disciplined and we must take him at his word.

So what else?

How about the royal security people? They are not exactly subtle when it comes to such stuff. Let's not even begin with the UK tabloid media who often bring shame to journalism. Or was it just that the lady was unable to deal with what she misguidedly perceived as an unforgivable error? It's too easy to blame young, unthinking DJs but, really, who would have thought of such an outcome from a stunt that would have been laughed off 999 times out of 1000?


***

What is the point to having road rules? Let's face it, almost none, if a judge's decision in Christchurch is anything to go by.

The judge was hearing a case where a young driver overtook on double yellow lines, mowed down two pedestrians - killing one - and fled the scene.

According to reports, the judge became visibly emotional when she was recounting the events and fought back tears as she read a victim impact statement by the dead man's twin brother. But that didn't stop her slapping the defendant with a wet bus ticket - 10 months' home detention along with 250 hours of community work, and disqualified him from driving for two-and-a-half years.

She ordered him to make two emotional harm repayments - one of $10,000 to the victim's parents and $5000 to the other victim, who is still on crutches and unable to return to work.

How can any young hoon take the law seriously after that? Or any of us, for that matter ...

***

What do you call something that lives when it has had its heart cut out? How about an immigration officer?

For NZ's immigration department has produced an act of bastardry that rivals the most uncaring use of red tape I have heard for some time.

A British couple are being expelled from this country after seven years here because the father and husband has developed a brain tumour.

They don't have permanent residence, having come in on a work visa, that changed to a business visa, that changed to a one-way ticket out of here.

And, despite paying taxes for seven years and working hard in this country, they don't even get benefits.

According to Immigration NZ, their application for residence was rejected because Paul Crystal was no longer actively in business and was "likely to impose significant cost or demands on New Zealand's health services".

He's not working because he's got a potentially fatal condition, you dimwits.


richard@richardmoore.com

- Bay of Plenty Times

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