Editorial: Cold cash for worthy causes

Last updated 08:00 11/07/2014

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OPINION: Some icy plunges are more purposeful than others. Or at least more urgent.

Justifiable praise has been heaped on Navy diver Simon Wasley of HMNZS Otago for swimming through giant seas to rescue rudderless yachties in conditions that made it too risky to bring a liferaft alongside. The resulting kudos appear to have bee a bit embarrassing as far as he's concerned, but it was an act no less brave for being one that called on professional judgments and capabilities.

Whereas ... well, we should acknowledge straight away the good intentions if less-than-heroic methodology behind the ice water challenge that has become a Facebook craze. It dares people to be filmed plunging into freezing water, or having it poured over them, then donate to their chosen charity and challenge others to do likewise. Should they decline, they are asked to increase their own donation from $20 to $100.

So it's another case of just-slightly-sanctified silliness. It's certainly preferable to some of the inglorious binge-drinking challenges that have previously captured attention.

Charities like the Cancer Society, which has been finding itself a significant beneficiary of this new tomfoolery, must be counting their blessings. They will surely understand that the prospects of this becoming a long-lived phenomenon aren't great.

Behind the larrikin appeal of simultaneously having some fun, and doing some good, there's the requirement that internet challenges be, somehow, mortifying enough to pass muster as public entertainment.

At a stretch you could argue that this thinking extended to the likes of planking, in which the only danger initially appeared to be to the participants' dignity. Then, in some cases, it was taken to dangerous extremes.

Some concern has arisen about the Jackass hazardry behind the ice challenge, through the potential risk from the shock of cold. That's something for individuals to consider, though it could be seen as a variant of the midwinter plunge in which so many of us have rejoiced - sort of - through the years.

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- The Southland Times

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