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Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

Thursday 23rd February 2012

There’s something wrong with the reporting of Lorraine Kelly’s horse-riding accident. The TV presenter was training for a charity fund-raising event when she fell off her horse. The fall itself was minor but, unfortunately, the horse then stood on her thigh causing a laceration with, apparently, quite serious blood loss.

She was taken to hospital where surgery under general anaesthetic was required to repair the damage. As is the way in the modern world, there was no need to wait for official hospital bulletins about her condition because Ms Kelly was very soon tweeting about the event, her treatment and the prognosis.

Ms Kelly has a very warm personality and is well-loved by the public and the media, so her accident received quite wide coverage all very similar in tone. Here’s a selection of headlines;

The Daily Telegraph
‘Lorraine Kelly in hospital after falling from horse’

This is London
‘Lorraine Kelly Hospitalised after horse riding accident’

Scottish TV
 ‘Lorraine Kelly recovering in hospital after horse riding accident’

‘Lorraine Kelly rushed to hospital after falling from horse’

The Daily Mail
‘Lorraine Kelly undergoes emergency surgery after horse tramples her thigh in jumping accident’
‘Lorraine Kelly Hospitalised After Nasty Horse Stamp’

I can't help noticing that the Daily Mail is the only publication to call this a 'jumping' accident rather than a 'horse-riding' accident. I don't know whether that is an attempt to make the story more dramatic or another example of the supposedly prudish Daily Mail's willingness to embrace a bit of 'phwoar' and 'fnarr fnarr'.

There is, though, something missing from all of these accounts. Where is the hysterical condemnation? Where the opinion pieces calling for tighter regulation, if not outright prohibition? Where the hand-wringing over the effects on Ms Kelly’s 17-year old daughter?

It is, of course, ludicrous to suggest that Ms Kelly should be criticised for ignoring the well-known risks involved in horse-riding or to complain of the costs incurred by the NHS as a result of her ill-considered activity. (Those costs are, probably, recoverable from her insurers but such detail tends to be ignored by the media.)

However, if Ms Kelly had come to harm, not as a result of experimenting with equasy,  but, rather, as a result of engaging with ecstasy, then the press reports would have been very different.

Ms Kelly’s unfortunate accident was just that. There is no question that she was being properly trained and that all reasonable precautions had been taken to prevent her coming to harm. But, human activity always contains some element of risk. That level of risk is, however, enhanced when it comes from substances supplied by criminals with no interest in quality control or standardisation of dose.

In its pure form, all the evidence points to ecstasy being far less harmful than equasy. In the form of illegally produced tabs containing who knows what fillers and alternative chemicals, it is harder to justify that conclusion.