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Friday, 25 January 2008

Video removed by YouTube and Live Leak

The video I linked to below has been removed. This does not surprise me - the footage was horrendous. It showed a young Iraqi woman being stoned to death last April in Mosul.

I have since discovered this isn't the first time somebody has tried to post this video.

The argument about how and when to publish death and suffering has a long history and there are no easy answers. Here's a few points:

Against
  • The video represents an appalling invasion of privacy on behalf of the dead girl and her family. Would they want her death to be published in this way?
  • There is a danger that the video might incite revenge attacks
  • Some people might argue this is a form of perverse voyeuristic entertainment - why do we need to see what happens to her? Surely to imagine is more than enough.
    • 'To stand and stare, to expose the person who suffers to the public gaze is refined cruelty'. Karen Sanders, Ethics and Journalism, pp. 94-5
  • Showing graphic images does not necessarily move people to compassion. (See Susan Moeller in Compassion Fatigue, p320)
  • The video could be accessed by children who might the video excpetionally disturbing (Though Youtube does restrict access to graphic videos and could have done this)
For
  • The argument that media audiences should be informed about suffering and death in an accurate, truthful, and perhaps even, in a shocking, disturbing and upsetting manner is compelling.
  • The danger of sanitising coverage of death and suffering is that we ignore the plight of our fellow human beings. Sometimes we need to be shocked in order to understand the full reality of a situation.
    • 'We can’t believe in a make believe world where no-one cries. Bad things happen. People suffer.' Karen Sanders, Ethics and Journalism, p. 103.
  • We can become immune to death and suffering that is conveyed only in words. Casualties in Iraq are often presented as numbers with no human face.
    • Mike Hudson and John Stainer quoted in Richard Keeble, Ethics For Journalists: '...could the carnage on the Somme, Passchendale or Verdun [World War One battlefields] possibly have continued if it had been witnessed nightly in millions of European sitting rooms?' p103

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