The Nurse, The Hoax, And The Suicide

December 7th, 2012 | Categories: Uncategorized

When it comes to stereotypes, class stereotypes are often the most subtle of all. Recently, the news is reporting about a nurse who committed suicide after being fooled in a phone call hoax by Australian radio personalities. The nurse, perceiving the call to be from the Queen of England and Prince Charles actually allowed the call through to Kate Middleton. The conclusion reached by the media is that there is a causal relationship between these two events. Because of the hoax, the nurse committed suicide.

The CNN correspondent, aligning himself with similar other reports in the media by using the words “we” and “us,” explained they were basing their conclusions on the available information they had been told from the police and the hospital. When queried about this claim, he further explained that the police say they are not looking at other responsible persons. As additional evidence he announced that the hospital is not distancing themselves from the connection between the two events (suicide and hoax). Therefore, he conclude, there must be a causal relationship.

I draw a different conclusion.

When CNN discussed this story today (over and over and over and over again), no mention was made about the nurse’s personal life and barely any reference other than “nurse” and “hospital” was made to her professional life. The conclusion to be made was simple. The nurse took her life to make atonement for the offense and ensuing embarrassment of falling for the prank. Her duty to her Queen, it seems from the report, was more important than her life.

The class stereotype communicated by the media in this story is that the 99% want to be in the 1%. The 99% are obsessed with the rich, admire them, and want to be like them. This stereotype makes the 1% out to be the entire focus of the 99%. The entire personal and professional life of this nurse is reduced through this stereotype to her feelings of obsessive responsibility to the aristocracy. This one-dimensional stereotypical view of her takes away her right to be an individual. She is reduced to her class. She is portrayed as someone with no right to have problems or legitimate concerns but who instead frivolously sacrifices her life for the royalty of her country.

Does that make any sense?

No. It doesn’t. Instead, by communicating stereotypes about class, the media reinforces their own iconic and untouchable view of themselves as part of the 1%. By framing the nurse story to suggest a causal link between the suicide and the hoax without reference to other possible causes, the media demonstrate that the 1% is actually obsessed with the 99%. In instances like this, the 1% send the message that the 99% need them for their very existence. But what the 1% don’t realize is that the 99% have too many other things to worry about.

Consider:
The teen I saw this morning staring longingly outside of a clothes store clearly desiring a $20 shirt he didn’t have the money for.

The family of four using credit cards to buy gifts for their kids for the holidays since they can’t afford anything the children have on their Christmas list.

The bachelor with holes in his socks and a broken refrigerator.

The mother working two full time jobs as a janitor to pay for her three children to be able to go to college.

The retiree on social security working odd jobs to make extra money to keep up with her living expenses.

The family displaced by Hurricane Sandy with no home for the holidays and no expectation of one any time soon.

The employee willing to do anything to avoid rocking the boat so she can keep her job.

The Occupy Wall Street folks still camped in front of Trinity Church despite the increasingly colder weather.

The stories I don’t know about from the 99% – because I live in the comfort of my own middle upper class existence – are no doubt much much worse.

So you tell me, did this nurse, commit suicide because some radio personalities played a hoax on her?

After working so many years in the medical industrial complex dealing not only with hysterical, rude, bloody, and tragic patients but also dealing with incompetent, chauvinistic, bureaucratic doctors and administrators, was she really that thin skinned?

After establishing herself in her profession as a nurse and living in the community over time did she really have nothing else going on in her personal life- no partner, no friends, no loved ones, no health issues, no other concerns or problems in her entire personal life- that might have had some impact on why she might have committed suicide?

How convenient for the 1% that the nurse committed suicide after the hoax because this reinforces the importance of the 1%. But that is all it is. Convenience, not causality.

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