Monday 27 September 2004

More on that video.

DumbJon seems broadly to agree with my post about the video of Eugene Armstrong's last moments. Laban has posted a thoughtful response to us both.

Although Jon may be right in thinking that the execution footage shown on prime time news might shock a few guardianistas out of their complacency, the people looking for this video are "FHM types who pore through the telephone sex line ads later. It's a completely different audience."

I agree: there is a significant difference between people who might have the video thrust in front of them over dinner and people who go actively trying to find it. I just don't think that the existence of deviants should be our prime motivator. The way I see it is that we know for a fact that there are people out there who think that putting Jews in concentration camps was a brilliant idea. Presumably, some of these people actually enjoy the footage of the camps. Just as that footage disgusts most of us, I have no doubt that it also serves as a valuable recruitment tool amongst Nazis — a lot of people are simply sadistic, and movements like Nazism have always been adept at recruiting on that basis. But I don't see that any of these facts are reasons to ban or suppress the footage.

I just want to reiterate some points I made in the comments of the last post. Firstly, I think that attitudes of the scum who are interested in the video for purely voyeuristic reasons will change dramatically when there's a major attack closer to home. It's harder to find a video of a gruesome murder enjoyable when the murderers are the same guys who killed your girlfriend. Puts it in a new light.

Secondly, all of these things could have been said about Isreali footage of the Intifada. The photos of the aftermath of bus bombs were utterly sickening: plenty in there to satisfy the prurient desires of those who like a bit of real-life gore. And the effect it had in Israel was to turn the Israeli Left against the path of appeasement and to galvanise support for military action against Arafat and the PA. Of course, it doesn't seem to have had the same effect on non-Israelis. That ties in with my first point: when the footage you're seeing involves people like you, the effect is different. Sooner or later, there will be a major atrocity on British soil. We should be preparing for that, and that means a willingness to look at what happens.

Thirdly, all the same points apply to the footage of 9/11, in which we see thousands of people, rather than just one, murdered. Should that footage be suppressed? I don't think so.

I have a point to make about the difference between this video and a snuff video, though I'm not entirely sure what bearing this distinction has on matters. With a snuff video, the video is the whole point: the victim has to be killed in order to make the video and hence make money; without the video, the victim would most likely not be killed. What the Islamists are creating here is of a different type: the death is the point. If they didn't have access to cameras, they'd kill the victim anyway. In fact, they do: the videos they release capture merely a fraction of their total murders.

I certainly do agree with Laban about this:

The Brit media - including the Sun, Mail and Telegraph are treating this as a massive human interest story with lots of thrilling political overtones. They aren't taking this war seriously.

Blanket media coverage is exactly what the bad guys want and exactly what we shouldn't give them. For the last week the issue and its spin-offs (Islamophobia again - and again and again, 'it's all Blair's fault' again and again) have dominated the papers and BBC. If there's any rationality among the kidnappers I can see the poor guy being kept alive for just as long as they can keep the front pages. On present form they could take a finger at a time and dominate the news till Christmas.

This is true. I was sickened by the press conference from Kenneth Bigley's poor mother. She is obviously being badly misled: some cynical bastard has told her that her son might be released in response to an emotional appeal; "If only they knew he had a family who love him, they would think twice about the consequences of their actions." What she should be told, hard as it may be, is that the people who have her son are certainly going to kill him and that it would be wise for her to start mourning now. Nobody on Earth has seen anything in the last three years to suggest that he stands any chance whatsoever of being released alive. The press conference was organised simply because it made such a great bit of footage for the TV news. I hope that whatever PR consultant thought that one up burns in hell.

Which is why I agree with DumbJon:

I would rather see [the beheading] on the news than the 'hostage pleading for his life' videos that the media show without any qualms.

Absolutely. But it doesn't look like the mainstream media are ever going to start covering this war properly. If they won't, someone else has to. There is more than one reason why that video's on the Net.

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