One more time…

One of the Australian DJ’s who played a prank on a British nurse who later took her own life, has resigned from the radio station, 2Day FM (Sydney).
The reader may recall the incident. Mel Greig and her co-presenter, Michael Christian, made a prank call to the King Edward VII hospital last year and got through to a ward where the Duchess of Cambridge was being treated. Nurse Jacintha Saldana, who put the call through, took her own life shortly after.
The DJ, Mel Greig, has apparently been in dispute with Southern Cross Austereo (SCA), the company responsible for the radio station programme on which Greig and Christian worked. She had filed a claim alleging that the company had “failed to maintain a safe workplace”.
Greig wanted it “made clear” that she was not responsible for the decision to broadcast the call, and that before it was aired she had suggested changes. SCA said the company had “at all times taken complete responsibility for the hoax call and the company maintained its view that the recording and broadcasting of the call was not unlawful”.
Greig is to give a statement to the UK coroner’s inquest into Saldanha’s death. SCA added it would also be cooperating with the inquiry.
So, the DJ that had perpetuated the hoax does not take responsibility for broadcasting it. So, morally it was OK! SCA takes responsibility for broadcasting the hoax but not for its perpetration and believes it was not unlawful. So, legally it was OK!  It is further reported that Greig and SCA had “amicably resolved all aspects of the dispute”. So, everything’s alright, then!
 Meanwhile, the coroner’s inquest into the nurse’s suicide as a consequence of the hoax goes on.


The following is heavily dependent on an article that, under the title “Every child should be born equal” and written by Zachary Adam Barker, appeared recently in the
“Surely the birth of the third person in line to the throne can only be a good thing?” asked the BBC Radio Bristol presenter. The question was presented as though it was a self-evident truth. The truth is that the birth of anyone is a good thing. The emergence of new persons into the world presents endless possibilities. What personalities will they display? Will they have a family? What will they become? What will be their contribution to human growth and development?
To a varying extent, most of these questions have already been settled even before the royal baby emerged. The baby’s being, warts and all, will be heavily filtered through the ruthless efficiency of the palace’s PR machine. Eventually the person that baby becomes will be required to have a family in order to ensure the continuity of the British monarchy and, again in due course, will become Head of State – whether desired or deserved.
All of this puts a hefty burden on the child that has just come into the world. It also automatically grades any other British child as unworthy of taking on, or volunteering to take on, that burden when they come of age.
What might be judged to be the most objectionable aspect of the question was what it implied about the state of British democracy. Are we so disillusioned with our democracy, and those who we elect to represent us, that we are ready to walk away from the ballot boxes and sell ourselves to an idea that stands against rule by the people. The idea of monarchy presents a contradictory picture of human nature, it implies that those elected can be nothing more than vile human beings, while those appointed noble and virtuous. It suggest that we can aspire to be only the second-class subjects of a monarch rather than the first-class citizens of a nation-state.
The monarchy is supposed to be an example to us all. Implicit in their royal role performance is that they model what is expected of the citizens of the nation. A great deal of emphasis is placed on duty. Whether we speak of the “big society” or simple citizenship, it seems that the ordinary people of the nation are expected to do their duty out of the personal satisfaction apparently gained by doing so with, perhaps, the incentive of a royal honour. Yet this idealism is offset by the fact that the roles and duties of the royals seem to be defined and transacted against a background of wealth and privilege.
What is most concerning about all of this is that it paves the way for the promotion of democratic discontent. The existence of the British monarchy tells us that our hard fought democracy and its values are simply not worth fighting for. We must retain a dependence on those whom history has privileged, either by accident or design. We tend to forget that we have a choice in the matter.
MPs are suspect individuals by nature, yet heirs to the throne – with suspect tax arrangements and a history of lobbying, are assumed to not be so. Expenses for MPs are pounced on, while private royal flights paid by the taxpayer are shrugged at. This system speaks ill of human possibility. People are corruptible – elected and unelected. But freedom is worth fighting for. As a great man once said “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance”
Is every child born equal? Or, are there some more equal than others? If so, then why? Surely, it remains true and self-evident, that all human beings are born equal and should be treated as such.

About stewculbard

I am a retired secondary school teacher of Humanities, having spent a major portion of my working life as a Minister of Religion with the Baptist denomination. I would now describe myself as a secular humanist and a socialist. I am married to Vicky and we have three children - two sons and a married daughter - all of whom are in their thirties. Formerly of Melbourne, Australia, we are all now living in England. My academic studies have been undertaken in Australia, the UK and the USA. I have a doctorate in religious studies from the San Francisco Theological Seminary. In retirement I enjoy reading, listening to classical music and writing. I am a member of Republic, Sea of Faith, Dignity in Dying Campaign and the National Secular Society. As well, I have a subscription to a number of cultural and political associations, including Amnesty International and, as a committed European, The Federal Trust.
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