What’s appropriate, where’s the empathy?

If you’ve been at a 21st or wedding recently you might have been subjected to speeches with content you’d prefer not to have heard and that many would regard as inappropriate for the occasion and audience.

After one such speech, discussion on it ended with the observation – if people don’t know what’s appropriate at social occasions,  how do they behave at work?

The answer for 2Day FM, the radio station which recorded, mulled upon and then broadcast the phone conversation with a nurse about the Duchess of Cambridge’s health, is that they don’t know what’s appropriate there either.

The DJs who made the call couldn’t possibly have anticipated the nurse who first answered the phone would later commit suicide.

Nor could any of those who listened to it and okayed the broadcast.

However, during the vetting process someone should have questioned whether it was appropriate to phone a hospital to ask after the health of a patient, regardless of who she was, then broadcast the conversation with the nurse who gave the information.

Had that question been asked, the answer should have been no.

There’s nothing new about prank calls and they can be funny.

What’s funny is very much a matter of opinion, so too is what’s appropriate.

At Sciblogs, Michael Edmonds has some rules to judge  if a prank 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.

Anyone with a reasonable degree of empathy would have realised that the call to the hospital wouldn’t have passed the first three tests.

The question to be asked is not just what’s appropriate, but also where’s the empathy?

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