Pranks and Human Frailty

By Michael Edmonds 10/12/2012

The tragic circumstances surrounding the prank call made by Australian DJs to the hospital where Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge was recuperating have led to a media frenzy. It has led to knee jerk criticisms and a baying for blood by some that truly reveals the darker side of humanity. It is quite frightening to see some of the vicious attacks on the DJs involved. We have already seen how public humiliation can result in suicide, would recreating such conditions for the DJs really appropriate (the scary thing is that I know there will be some people who would consider such an outcome, rough justice – it is not).

Don’t get me wrong, I think the prank was in extremely poor taste and poorly conceived, and something needs to be done to make sure this does not happen again, but it needs cooler heads than some who are currently strutting their dark views in the media.

The problem with pranks is there is a fine line between funny and offensive. I grew up with a father who enjoyed pranks but who knew where to draw the line. I also enjoy the occasional prank myself but have a set of rules to define what is acceptable.

1) The prank must not do any damage, physical or otherwise. If it creates a mess you get to clean it up

2) The person being “pranked” should find it funny (i.e. it must be someone you know and can anticipate a humorous reaction from)

3) The prank must not humiliate the person in any way

4) You must be okay with being pranked in return. If you can’t handle it, you shouldn’t dish it out.

Consequently many of the pranks I have seen, particularly on American TV shows, I don’t like at all. And the DJs’ prank was terribly thought out, as the consequences reveal. When tempers have cooled down hopefully sensible measures will be put in place to prevent this happening again.


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