Category Archives: Truth-telling

Perspective needed: one death in many

 

On Friday 9 April 2021, a certain gentleman died. His full name/title was:

His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, Baron Greenwich, Royal Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Extra Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Member of the Order of Merit, Grand Master and First and Principal Knight Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Knight of the Order of Australia, Additional Member of the Order of New Zealand, Extra Companion of the Queen’s Service Order, Royal Chief of the Order of Logohu, Extraordinary Companion of the Order of Canada, Extraordinary Commander of the Order of Military Merit, Lord of Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council, Privy Councillor of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, Personal Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty, Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom.

That’s 133 words. In the time it takes you to read it, at least 100 people will have died somewhere in the world. For the average daily death toll around the globe is 150,000 people. How many of their names will we know? How many of them will attract the media feeding frenzy that the passing of certain 99-year-old gentleman did?

How much media or other scrutiny will fall on the 800+ women who died on that very same day from what the World Health Organization describes as “preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth”? How many pub conversations about that particular gentleman’s legacy will pause to consider that in high-income countries a woman’s lifetime risk of maternal death is one in 540; in low-income countries it is one in 45?

We don’t know exactly what the 99-year-old gentleman expired from, though old age is clearly a suspect. We do know he suffered heart problems. That puts him in strong company – nearly one third of the other 149,999 deaths on 9 April resulted from cardiovascular disease.

The gentleman’s family, especially his wife—a woman of some renown—will mourn him deeply. That is as unremarkable. Will their sorrow be any more heartfelt, any more profound, than that of all the other wives, husbands, children, mothers, fathers, siblings, friends, companions who lost a loved one on Friday 9 April 2021?

 

Scomo banks on denial

PM:     Did you do it?

MINISTER 1:     No I did not!

PM:     Atta boy, but there’s room for improvement. Let’s try again.

Do you do it?

MINISTER 1:     I definitely did not.

PM:     Only definitely? Can’t you do better than that?

MINISTER [taking a deep breath]:     I absolutely, categorically deny I had anything to do with it.

PM:     That’s more like it! Take a break and we’ll polish it later.

MINISTER 1:     Um, sorry PM, what was I denying?

PM:     Come on, I explained it all in Cabinet! I want blanket denials from every minister. We’re bound to need them so I’m stockpiling.

MINISTER [smiles broadly]:     You’re a thinker Scotty. That’s why we made you PM.

PM:     Send in the next one, will you?

MINSTER 1:     Sure thing.

PM:     Right. Did you do it?

MINISTER 2:     I am offended to the core that you could even ask that question. Never in a month of Sundays would I ever contemplate action so vile in spirit and horrendous in application that it would leave decent people everywhere shuddering with revulsion. If you persist with that malicious line of enquiry I will not hesitate to be very upset to the point that I might cry.

PM [laughs]:     You’ve been practicing! Great work, though you might need to look at the word count. A bit long for a 30 second grab.

Send in the next one will you?

MINISTER 2:     You got it, El Scotto Supremo.

PM:     Okay, you know the drill. I explained it before.

MINISTER 3:    Did you now?

PM:     Yes, I did. Oh, bugger, you got me. I answered in the affirmative.

MINISTER 3:     I didn’t mean to embarrass you PM, just to show that we can all slip up.

PM:     I know, I know, a good lesson too. Forgot my own rule: always deny until it’s certain the media are all at the pub.

MINISTER 3:    Or move to hypotheticals. “You have just asked me if I assaulted that woman. I have never responded to hypotheticals and don’t intend to start now.”

PM:     Yeah, that’s a great line. We can thank Christian for that one. He’s the gold standard.

MINISTER 3:    Just one thing though. What will we do about Julie Bishop?

PM:      That flirtatious sow. You saw what she said? That we should actually know the substance of allegations before we deny them. Outrageous, pedantic nonsense. It’ll undermine our whole system of open government.

MINISTER 3:     That’s what happens when you get the wrong lawyers in Parliament.

PM:     Or the wrong women.