An ordinary death made extraordinary

My mother died suddenly one night. It wasn’t altogether unexpected; she had a known problem with her heart valves. She had gone to the bathroom just before going to bed and when she hadn’t returned to the bedroom, my father went off in search of her. He found her on the floor and called the ambulance service. The paramedics arrived within minutes and confirmed that she had died.

After the ambulance crew left, my father called me. This was an unusual event but then, it was an unusual night. I reached my parents’ house within the hour by which time, it was about midnight. I was rather surprised to find two police officers in the house, interviewing my father. After I’d been there for 10 minutes or so, I began to grow angry at the tomfool nature of their questions, their intrusiveness so soon after my mother’s death and – most of all – the fact that they had cheerfully admitted that they constituted one third of the police officers on duty that night to cover an area of about 100 square miles: shouldn’t they have been doing something more important?

My father – an ex-police officer himself – sensed my tension and quietly indicated that he was OK with the situation. After another half an hour, they concluded their questions and their note-taking and took their leave. “They were only doing their job” my father said as the door shut behind them. To this day, I remain unconvinced.

There was nothing particularly extraordinary about my mother’s life. She was unfortunate enough to have an especially sickly child which meant that she was unable to continue her pre-marriage career until she was in her 40s. So, inevitably, money was tight – particularly as my father was in the habit of frittering it away. But we rarely heard her complain and, thanks to her, we never went without. We loved her; to us she was beautiful and the mother that all children deserve. But to the wider world, she meant little.

So far, so ordinary. And unless you’re the child of somebody in the public eye, you might well have had the same experience: you’re born, your parents bring you up, one of your parents dies but the world carries on almost completely unawares. You certainly don’t get Reuters and the international press reporting your parent’s passing.


Last Saturday, an unamed man in his 60’s reported for his first day in a new job. After working for about 50 minutes, he collapsed and died. The cause of his death is unknown.

What makes him so special? Here’s the headline from this morning’s Independent:

Third worker dies at Fukushima nuclear plant

The man, whom we presume to have been hitherto unremarkable to all but his family, has become remarkable in death as a propaganda tool. According to the article, he was exposed to 0.17 millisieverts of radiation, considerably less than the 250 millisieverts considered to be acceptable and so it seems likely -to any reasonable person – that his death was most likely natural or, possibly, the result of an industrial accident; the stuff of millions of unremarked deaths. But because he died at Fukushima, the anti-nuclear lobby, courtesy of a stupid and compliant media, decided to use his death as another excuse to whip up hysteria and scaremonger about nuclear power.

Oh, and lest we forget, the first two workers to die at Fukushima were swept away by the tsunami. The media sought to exploit that for the benefit of the anti-nukes lobby as well. They are either lazy or despicable. My money is on both.

Update The Washington Post has just confirmed that no radiation was found on the man’s body. His exposure was no greater than that given during a normal chest x-ray.

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8 Responses to An ordinary death made extraordinary

  1. Let’s not forget that real people actually died as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion last year here in the states, yet the media was worried about all the dcks and crabs. I was concerned for them, too, but was disturbed by zero interest in the dozen or so men who died. Naturally, our president was too busy to even acknowledge that human lives were lost.

    Speaking of energy production-related deathx, I’m waiting for the following headline: “Last known American Whooping Crane pureed by avian Cuisinart, also known as environmentally-friendly windmill.”

    That would be a headline…

  2. “ducks” not “dcks.”

    • Indeed. There was an impression that the rig workers deserved to die for assaulting mother Gaia.

      Save the dcks!

      • There’s an interesting dichotomy on the left – there often is – when it comes to the relationship of a worker to the larger employer. Last year a guy (don’t remember his name) flew his personal aircraft into a building that housed IRS workers. Many said it was unfair to blame IRS workers for tax laws, since they didn’t pass the laws and merely implement them. Thus, IRS workers don’t “attack” taxpayers.

        Contrast that to the response to the private sector rig workers. They didn’t create demand for oil or fund the rig, yet they are blamed by some for “attacking” mother earth.

        Rather inconsistent, eh?

  3. Funnily enough, I was thinking much the same thing in relation to your earlier comment about the bird-shredders.

    For years, the environmentalists have fought doughty battles to preserve the countryside from industrial desecration but now the very same people appear to delight in placing windfarms at beauty spots.

    And possibly the most bizarre of all, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds – a charity which has previously worked hard to maintain and/or reintroduce populations of birds that are disappearing or have disappeared altogether – has thrown its weight behind windfarms despite evidence of them killing a disproportionate number of raptors, amongst our rarest birds!

  4. thanks for this thoughtful story about your mum. it’s pretty shameless the way they’ll distort a title on any article to do with nukes just to score points with the folks who don’t read past the title.

  5. Pingback: Reader links and comments. | World's Only Rational Man

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