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Put A Red Cross PSA In Front Of the ISIS Beheading Video

samzenpus posted about a month ago | from the for-the-greater-good dept.

Censorship 300

Bennett Haselton writes After footage of James Foley's beheading by ISIS terrorists was posted online on Tuesday, Twitter and Youtube elected to remove any footage or links to the footage posted by users. Obviously this reduces the incentive for terrorist groups to post such content, by shrinking their audience, but it also reduces the public's access to information. Would it be ethical to make the content available, if it was preceded by an advertisement for a cause that runs counter to everything ISIS stands for? Read below to see what Bennett has to say.

This Slate article by Lily Hay Newman summarizes the pros and cons of Twitter's and Youtube's decision to remove the footage. (Interestingly, note that the quotes in favor of censoring the images all came from average users, while the arguments against censoring the content, were quotations from respected journalism experts.) In addition to agreeing more with the anti-censorship arguments, I've also felt that for a news organization to tell their readers, "We have elected not to publish the link," smacks of elitism -- because certainly they feel that they are entitled to view the video in the course of their research. If a group of journalists in a news office were working together to find the video online, and one of them announced to the room, "Well, I've found the link, but I've made a decision not to share it with the rest of you," they would rightly be fired. But when the same journalists announce they're not going to share the link with the rest of us, that's considered an ethics call.

But that's in a simple binary choice between publishing and not publishing the content. Suppose you had the option of posting the video, preceded by a (non-skippable) message exhorting users to donate to the Red Cross, or some other organization that was either fighting ISIS directly, or mitigating the damage they're doing? (And then if users post links to the video at any other source, then rather than suspending those users' accounts or removing the content outright, Twitter and Youtube could mandate that users link instead to the PSA-prepended version.)

If this sounds idiotic at first, I'm not suggesting just taking the average banal Red Cross PSA and splicing it in at the beginning, followed by the execution video. The Red Cross could (hastily) record an announcement specifically addressing the situation, reminding people of the similar brutalities that are being committed every day, and the need for support and help. Attempting to secure permission from the victim's family would be a good idea too. To avoid accusations that the Red Cross was attempting to "profit" from the tragedy, any funds raised via a direct prompt in the ad (such as as 5-digit number that you can text to make a donation) would have to go into an account earmarked strictly to be used only for aid to victims, not for Red Cross employees' salaries or for any other purpose whatsoever.

Of course, no matter how many times you emphasize that funds being raised are absolutely being used only to help victims, some viewers will react with disgust at the idea of the video pre-mercial being used for "fundraising". But while it would be very tricky to get the message right in practice, I don't think I would object in principle to a pre-pended message in front of the video, that either raised funds for humanitarian aid, or otherwise counteracted the goals of the terrorists.

So if Youtube allows the video to be posted along with a pre-pended PSA, this trivially achieves the goal of "making the information available to the public"; does it also prevent the dissemination of the video from helping ISIS, and does it reduce the incentive for terrorists to release similar videos in the future? Or to put it precisely, (1) does releasing the video this way, sufficiently undermine the goals of ISIS? and (2) would ISIS perceive that their goals are undermined if we release the video this way?

Unfortunately, when the goal of an organization is to spread terror, then humanitarian aid to their victims may not undermine their goal as much as we might hope, because the point of launching a newsworthy terror attack is usually not to harm the victims directly but to terrorize the rest of the population. If the original victims are rescued and nursed back to health after the cameras have stopped rolling, that doesn't neutralize the intimidating effect on everyone else.

But perhaps that just means that the Red Cross is not the right organization to benefit from a PSA posted at the beginning of the video. If we want to make sure ISIS is harmed every time someone watches the video -- and more importantly, that ISIS knows it is being harmed every time someone watches the video -- then maybe it should be pre-pended with a message exhorting people to sign up for training with the armed services, to help wipe ISIS off the face of the Earth.

Yes, that would elicit howls of protest from some people who might not have objected to the Red Cross PSA, but the goal should not be to favor some cuddly organization that is the least controversial to everybody. The goal should be to punish ISIS to the maximum extent with every additional viewing of the video, in order to reduce the chances that ISIS, or anyone else, would release a video like that again. What is the one thing that ISIS would least want people to see before watching their gruesome propaganda clip? If the answer is, "A message urging people to join the military and fight against ISIS," then that's what should be put in front of the video.

It all still sounds like quite a bizarre idea, to me as well, but the fact remains that if we're going to support making the video available at all, this seems like the way to do it that would harm ISIS instead of benefiting them. Perhaps someone else can think of a better way. (On the other hand, to people who think the video should be suppressed, it's all a moot point anyway.)

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This is only tangentially related to tech news (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47747987)

Why does this belong on Slashdot?

Re: This is only tangentially related to tech news (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748039)

How and if certain info is disseminated and the ethics/mechanisms are without a doubt tech news.

Re: This is only tangentially related to tech news (3, Funny)

bugnuts (94678) | about a month ago | (#47748243)

Agreed. It should have a PSA preceding it talking about the annoyances of tangentially related tech news on a tech news website.

This is only tangentially related to tech news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748287)

Because tech's care about what goes on around the world too. Yeah, it's marginally related, but you don't have to read it.

I forced myself to watch it (5, Insightful)

geek (5680) | about a month ago | (#47747995)

As far as I am concerned, no one should comment on it unless they've seen it. The arm chair quarterbacks who are removed from the issue and not exposed to it should shut the hell up.

The video is horrifying and Youtube and other services removing it is an injustice to humanity. People should see this and remember it. Just as people should see the horrors of the holocaust and remember. All removing the content does is ensure people are ignorant to the truth. Look how well banning Nazi memorabilia has worked out in France where they now have a HUGE uptick in the amount of anti-semitism.

Hiding the unpleasantness in life does not make it go away.

Re:I forced myself to watch it (4, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about a month ago | (#47748057)

But I can tell from your attitude, you'll be outraged the moment trolls start posting the video with humorous audio editing.

And if you allow the video, that's exactly what will happen. Respect for the dead starts with not spreading their demise to every curious onlooker.

Re:I forced myself to watch it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748143)

That's right, we should stop wasting time and just turn that sandbox into glass..

Problem solved.

Re:I forced myself to watch it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748179)

What's wrong with recognising that Stuff needs Context? A toilet is a necessary part of the human experience. A funeral is an important part of closure. Installing a toilet atop the corpse of the deceased during the funeral is not appropriate.

As for "respect for the dead", that is meaningless: the dead don't exist any more. We should endeavour to respect the living (you and me included) and consider what they gain or do not gain from the response.

Re:I forced myself to watch it (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about a month ago | (#47748655)

While I agree that the dead don't really feel anything anymore, their relatives and friends do. How'd you feel if your mom's execution by a bunch of lunatics was repeated over and over again at prime time to show how horrific it is?

Re:I forced myself to watch it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748751)

Well, a family member died in very much unnatural circumstances a few weeks ago and there was local coverage and headlines everywhere outside local news agents for a fortnight. This DID cause some hurt to some members of my family, but the "suppress reporting of something which actually happened because it might bother some members of the family" approach would have been more harmful to the public interest (and therefore also to us, in the long run).

The key, as always, is responsible and sensitive dissemination of information, which is something mostly self-regulating in a society which has developed civilised values. It is possible for information to be abused to cause harm, and that can be covered by criminal provisions to outlaw harassment, regardless of methods used to harass.

Re:I forced myself to watch it (2)

penix1 (722987) | about a month ago | (#47748919)

This DID cause some hurt to some members of my family, but the "suppress reporting of something which actually happened because it might bother some members of the family" approach would have been more harmful to the public interest (and therefore also to us, in the long run).

Reporting on it != viewing the entire episode from grim start to grisly end. There is a huge difference. Add to that the propaganda factor this incident has (for both sides) and it does nothing but damage to the family. Again, I will ask you in the terms of your experience, how would it affect the family had those "unnatural circumstances" been recorded, uploaded to YouTube and used for political purposes?

Re:I forced myself to watch it (3, Insightful)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about a month ago | (#47748185)

you simply can't stop information on the internet. You can try but you will fail. If the trolls want to do such things, it says more about them than it does about anything else.

I'm all in favor of requiring an active action to view the video. Rather than Twitter taking down links, just modify them to require a click before it plays so people who don't want to see it aren't forced to experience it. But blocking it? simply won't work.

Re:I forced myself to watch it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748281)

And this is why i have a GIF controller extension installed in Firefox. If you find various animations funny, sure. But i for one prefer my browsing experience static until opted otherwise.

Re:I forced myself to watch it (1, Flamebait)

geek (5680) | about a month ago | (#47748195)

But I can tell from your attitude, you'll be outraged the moment trolls start posting the video with humorous audio editing.

I don't actually give two fucks what someone edits. As long as the original is out there. So fuck you for trying to stereotype me. You can go fuck yourself now.

Re:I forced myself to watch it (1, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | about a month ago | (#47748723)

How'd you feel if your mom hit a wall with her car and died, someone taped it and dubbed over with some Bugs Bunny sound effects for comic effect?

Re:I forced myself to watch it (5, Interesting)

Njorthbiatr (3776975) | about a month ago | (#47748197)

The dead are dead, the respect is for the living who believe in the ridiculous notion of respect for the dead. Censorship is wrong, and more important in this case, completely ineffective. So ISIS is going to stop beheading people because they can't upload it to youtube? Please, please don't make me laugh. The only thing that's sickening are people who are crying to censor it. Censor whatever you want, it doesn't stop atrocities from happening. It's disgusting that some people are in so much denial they feel the need to force it upon other people. You don't stop this by running away like a coward and being all hushed. Freakin' ridiculous.

Re:I forced myself to watch it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748677)

So ISIL are going to stop beheading people because they CAN upload it? I really don't follow your logic on this one.....

Re:I forced myself to watch it (1)

Ravaldy (2621787) | about a month ago | (#47748699)

I agree with your statement that censorship is wrong BUT I must inject that allowing them to show the horrible things they do does nothing to further any causes other than their own. Did I see the video? Yes I did. Did I need to see it to understand how horrible things are there? No.

In the current state of internet I agree with censorship but as the internets anonymous nature dissolves and accountability becomes possible again, I will agree far more with your statement.

Re:I forced myself to watch it (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a month ago | (#47748367)

There is a balance to be struck. Western media tends to heavily sanitize war and it disconnects people from the consequences of the actions taken on their behalf. On the other hand, even in death those who were killed have a right to some dignity.

Re:I forced myself to watch it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748591)

You're an idiot, the dead are dead and don't care about our respect. Respect is only for the living.

Re:I forced myself to watch it (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about a month ago | (#47748871)

What interests me is the fact that someone thinks the Red Cross is antithetical to ISIS. They are I am sure not aligned. But the Red Cross would send in food and medicine to help ISIS if they allowed it.

Antithetical would be some pro Jewish or pro Christian org.

Re:I forced myself to watch it (5, Interesting)

sycodon (149926) | about a month ago | (#47748103)

Could it be the HUGE uptick in the amount of anti-semitism is the result of the immigration of a HUGE number Islamic radicals?

Re:I forced myself to watch it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748221)

I've seen it. It looks fake.

Re:I forced myself to watch it (2)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | about a month ago | (#47748235)

I know that someone was beheaded. It is clear that this is an horrible and cruel act, that nobody and nobody's family should experience. What information does it add to watch the video? You can convey the relevant information in text.

Re:I forced myself to watch it (0)

geek (5680) | about a month ago | (#47748435)

I know that someone was beheaded. It is clear that this is an horrible and cruel act, that nobody and nobody's family should experience. What information does it add to watch the video? You can convey the relevant information in text.

No, you can't. The fact you think so is the entire problem. You're just talking out of your ass.

Re:I forced myself to watch it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748345)

My guess is you are a shill paid to whip up sentiment. If you are not, don't sweat it because it is an obvious fake,.Another false flag operation by the us government to justify an attack on ISIS/Syria.

Re:I forced myself to watch it (2)

Dutch Gun (899105) | about a month ago | (#47748457)

It's a bit ironic that you feel the need to attempt to silence opposition by claiming some sort of moral superiority in having watched that video. Isn't that a form of censorship as well? Why are you opposed to a debate of the merits of such a decision?

I'm perfectly aware that the video is horrifying, and have no wish to subject myself to it. Why would I have to do so to recognize the face of evil? I learned all I need to know about the topic by searching for some online articles. For a man to cut off another's head and laugh about it later, even when that person had done him no harm... yeah, there are horrible people in the world. I already knew that.

YouTube and Twitter are private companies and not in the journalist trade, even if their services are used for such purposes on occasion. They should have no qualms about removing videos that obviously violate their terms of use. The summary's idea for a Red Cross or other PSA is also downright bizarre. It seems like such a video would be the last thing anyone would want to be associated with.

Re:I forced myself to watch it (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a month ago | (#47748469)

Look how well banning Nazi memorabilia has worked out in France where they now have a HUGE uptick in the amount of anti-semitism.

The world wide uptick in antisemitism (and antizionism) is a direct response to Israel's treatment of Palestine.

In Europe, that's on top of xenophobia that has been exacerbated by the protracted recovery from the great recession.

Re:I forced myself to watch it (3, Interesting)

Krojack (575051) | about a month ago | (#47748505)

I saw the nick berg beheading years ago and I'm still horrified to this day. I will not watch this one because of that.

This IMO, is a special case and I personally think Youtube, Twitter and all other media should do what the family members would like.

Re:I forced myself to watch it (2)

janoc (699997) | about a month ago | (#47748519)

While I agree with your statement about removal of the video, the part on antisemitism in France is BS.

The recent uptick of antisemitism in France has nothing whatsoever to do with the ban on sale of nazi memorabilia (which is, btw, banned in Germany and many other countries as well), but with the war in Gaza. The people who attacked the Jewish stores and places of worship in the recent riots are mostly young Arabs (and there are plenty of them here in France due to the French involvement in Northern Africa, Lebanon, etc in the past) and various militant pro-Palestine groups.

I suggest that you practice your own advice - if you are not exposed to it (or too ignorant to actually know when to check the facts), shut the hell up.

We should publish US military horrors as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748531)

I agree people need to see the full horror of what has happened in order that we might remember it.

In that light, I also believe video evidence of US military atrocities against innocent civilians should be published as well.

We can start with the unpublished videos from Abu Ghraib.

Re:I forced myself to watch it (2)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a month ago | (#47748533)

This whole attitude of "until you've seen what I've seen, you have no right to comment on it" notion is pure lunacy.

Yes, having seen something will change one's perspective, and yes, a person may be more capable of making a well-reasoned judgment after having seen that something, but the idea that they shouldn't be allowed to comment until they've seen it is a form of the very censorship that you're trying to stop. Surely you can appreciate the irony in your very own statements. I agree with you that people should be exposed to items and images that convey the horrors of war, be it images, memorials, or graveyards that stretch to the horizon, but once they truly understand that war is a horrible thing, I see very little reason to scar and desensitize them through further exposure. The idea that a prerequisite for being declared fit to comment on a topic is that they be just as scarred as we are is plain silly.

Without having seen it and without having any desire to see it, I agree with you that the video probably should be available, but that doesn't mean that places like YouTube or Twitter should be forced to provide it, any more than they should be forced to provide other content that they might find objectionable. Neither of those services are the appropriate venue for such a thing. There are other places where people can get that sort of content.

Maybe. I'm pretty sure I know how this film ends. (2)

raymorris (2726007) | about a month ago | (#47748569)

I agree with the general concept you're espousing, twice over in fact. Certainly, one should be wary of commenting about issues they know nothing about, and some things you can't really understand based on a bit of reading. I'm pretty sure I can understand what happened in that video without actually seeing it, though. I'm reminded of the axiom "what has been seen cannot be unseen".

Certainly, one should be wary of commenting about issues they know nothing about. "Gun control" regulation in the US is an example of how that ends up. Something like 40% of the country supported the 1994 ban on "assault weapons", and 95% of those supporters have absolutely no idea whatsoever what "assault weapon" means. You ask them "what IS an 'assault weapon' anyway?" and they have no response at all. So we ended up with a ban on scary LOOKING rifles. The people wanting a ban were happy when they saw pictures of all the scary looking guns that were banned, while the people who own and understand guns weren't TOO bothered - functionally similar items were still legal, they just looked slightly different.

Sometimes, seeing an event really deepens understanding. For a lot of people, virtually watching the torture and murder of Jesus of Nazareth in The Passion of the Christ changed their understanding in a fundamental way. So much so that it pierced through the conscious cognitive layer to the subconscious psychological layer, and even below that, to the layer beneath the psychological (what some call the spiritual layer). Of course, some of those people probably just didn't know what scourging was until they saw it. Reading a detailed textual description may have given a similar understanding.

You mentioned the holocaust (1 point for Godwin). I've spoken one-on-one with two holocaust survivors at school and read another's book, partially written while in a concentration camp. I think I understand it as much as I will. I don't think watching a video of it would further my understanding. Certainly, experiencing something similar myself would deepen my understanding, but I don't think anything on youtube would help.

Re:I forced myself to watch it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748593)

As far as I am concerned, no one should comment on it unless they've seen it

I chose not to watch it, but hope to GOD they all die a horrible death. What morbid curiosity does it compel to not watch it? Its more compelling.

Re:I forced myself to watch it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748619)

As far as I am concerned, no one should comment on it unless they've seen it. The arm chair quarterbacks who are removed from the issue and not exposed to it should shut the hell up.

No one should comment because they don't want to expose themselves to gruesome and incendiary propaganda that the only point of watching would be to desensitize and exhort the desire for more violence? Watching it is neither honorable, enlightened or courageous and the act itself is certainly not educational.

Re:I forced myself to watch it (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about a month ago | (#47748633)

You ARE aware that this is the internet? And aside of "everything can be turned into porn", the second rule of the internet is "everything can be ridiculed". The more horrifying, the more likely. How long do you think 'til we get the videos with new audio comments? How about something along the lines of a sports comment with a heartfelt "it's good!" the moment the head drops?

There is a reason executions are not even televised in the US, the country that makes a spectacle out of everything. Because even the worst offender against any kind of legal system is allowed a last bit of dignity: To not make his death a spectacle.

Re:I forced myself to watch it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748663)

Youtube or Google are private enterprises and they can do whatever the f*ck they want to. Their not democracies, neither is this piece of shit blog...

Re:I forced myself to watch it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748667)

"Look how well banning Nazi memorabilia has worked out in France where they now have a HUGE uptick in the amount of anti-semitism."

The uptick in anti-semitism is due to uncontrolled immigration of Muslims into the country.

Go ahead and downvote this. It's the truth.

Re:I forced myself to watch it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748729)

So what are you saying? Prohibiting nazi memorabilia makes people want to prescribe to racialism? No makey sense here!!!! There is simply no correlation between the two. All you sick fucks who want to watch a beheading video can always get their hands on "the source" if you're willing to look for it. Or are you somehow sad you won't be able to get neither your porn nor your beheading vids on YT anymore? Anybody got a spin on this one that makes sense here? Read a f*cking book lately? Read a newspaper article about the vid or the people behind it of late? Or are you someone who thinks they will only ever get the "truth" directly from the source, i.e. this vid. Argh, go f*ck yourselves!!!

Re:I forced myself to watch it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748753)

Why should we show ISIS propaganda at their whim? On a far less level, streakers during NFL games are blocked, so that behavior is limited... why should we allow terrorists and rogue nations to have their violent, grisly images? It just accomplishes their aim... fulfilling the terror part of terrorist.

Instead, people need to take a stand and not show their violence. Either that, or actively take a stand and campaign against them, which is unlikely. (Europe doesn't care whatsoever, for example.)

Re:I forced myself to watch it (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | about a month ago | (#47748849)

You are no expert and you have no right telling anyone they don't have a right to free speech because that's what you just demanded. You should be marked as a anti free speech troll. Viewing a beheading makes you an expert and gives just YOU the right to comment on why it should or shouldn't be shown? Public executions stopped in the USA many many years ago for a reason. This poor mans murder isn't an educational video moron. and how about the Family what about their rights? Oh wait the ones who didn't watch it don't have right to comment. According to you.

Re:I forced myself to watch it (3, Insightful)

CptPicard (680154) | about a month ago | (#47748969)

How about child pornography? It's perverted stuff, and the underage participants are duly protected from having their pictures from being posted online for "informative" purposes. Just see how well your defense of "I forced myself to watch it because I want to remind myself of how vile it is" would work if caught with the material.

As far as decapitations go, I can well imagine it's gruesome stuff. I don't need to see someone lose his life like that just out of sick curiosity.

This is War (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47747999)

We don't even recognize ISIS as a legitimate power but they have declared war on the US. Whatever we do with their content is fair game.

Bennett Haselton (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748007)

I have no opinion on the video, but these posts of Bennett's are too heinous to be redeemed by support of any good cause.

Jon Katz (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about a month ago | (#47748321)

Is Bennett really any worse than Jon Katz was when he wrote a column for Slashdot?

Re:Jon Katz (2)

JWW (79176) | about a month ago | (#47748587)

You know, sometimes I miss Jon Katz on /.

Then I get over it.

There is no public benefit (5, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about a month ago | (#47748009)

Snuff films don't educate. We're all becoming a bit more desensitized to this kind of thing thanks to the internet, but there isn't actually anything to be learned from watching a man die.

It's against youtube's TOS(because they run a content censored site) and so they take it down. I don't tend to endorse censorship, but classes of censorship that the distributor is reasonably upfront about, and has a reasonable basis, I just can't muster that righteous anger the summary is exhorting.

Re:There is no public benefit (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a month ago | (#47748027)

Oh, and just to reinforce the fact that I did read the summary, the presence or absence of an attached PSA for a charitable organization makes no real difference.

Islamist snuff films indeed educate. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748249)

They display Islamist "justice" without filtration. IS are making a statement, and censorship allows the PC brigades to hide from it.

Re:There is no public benefit (5, Informative)

Joe Gillian (3683399) | about a month ago | (#47748261)

First off, I think we should put PSAs over Bennett's stories. It might give people a reason to click them, especially if Dice donated some small amount of money to whatever charity group has the PSA out.

That said, "snuff" videos do educate people. One of the most famous (which was circulating as "Faces of Death: Senator Suicide" on Kazaa back when I was in middle school and was the talk of all of the kids on the bus) is Budd Dwyer's suicide by self-inflicted gunshot, which was recorded by a bunch of TV news crews who had come expecting him to resign from his position as a state senator after he was charged with corruption. Instead, they watched as this guy read a statement and then pulled a gun out of a manila envelope. If you watch the tapes - the unedited ones - you can hear people in the background pleading with him to drop the gun, because at the time they thought he was going to shoot at them. Then, he turns the gun on himself, while TV cameras are capturing the entire event.

The professor of one of my first college classes (I was a journalism major and don't regret it even though I can't find a job) started his class off with that video - and I think I was the only person in the room other than him who knew what was going to happen. The footage is horrifying, but it proves a point in that you can never go into a story expecting anything, and what happens if something like this occurs. Many of the media outlets that recorded Dwyer's suicide refused to show any of the footage at all, even before he pulled the gun out. Others showed it right up until the gun came out - I think one went so far as to show the manila envelope that had the gun in it but not the gun itself.

I learned two valuable things that day - the first that you can never take a story for granted. No one who was there that day thought it was going to be anything more than a minor politician reading off a prepared statement, and were only there to get perhaps 5 seconds of footage - Dwyer saying that he would be stepping down as a state senator. Instead, they wound up with a national-level story on their hands and one of the most well-known ethical dilemmas of journalism. The second was never to trust a manila envelope. Those things are nothing but trouble.

Re:There is no public benefit (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a month ago | (#47748731)

First off, I think we should put PSAs over Bennett's stories.

Yes, and it should link to this [amazon.com] , this [amazon.com] , and this [amazon.com] .

That last one was used as an ESL textbook at my university, but Bennet could truly benefit from it. (it's actually a really good book, 90% of the internet could use it).

Re:There is no public benefit (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a month ago | (#47748343)

We're all becoming a bit more desensitized to this kind of thing thanks to the internet...

Are you one of those people who want to sanitize war and make look all glorious and stuff? You know what's fucked up? People complaining about publishing nasty videos and pictures and not the people who actually produce the content. It's like those complaining about Snowden instead of the crimes he exposed. You all need to shift your target.

Re:There is no public benefit (1)

Kjella (173770) | about a month ago | (#47748509)

I think you vastly underestimate the difference between knowing that "people" in the abstract, far away sense are tortured and killed compared to people you can put a name and face on. If you had to see a third world slum kid over webcam for 10 seconds each day, look him in the eyes and tell him you're not donating anything today I think most would crumble very, very rapidly even if we were relatively short on cash themselves. Yes, their goal is to spread fear and terror. The flip side of that is also to spread righteous anger and determination that such evil must be scourged from the world. If you could gather the IS warriors all in one place and aim a nuke at them, I'd push the button. And if you knew me, that's way out of character. Shit like this is what drives me to such extremes, if I didn't see it (not that I've actually watched this particular beheading) I wouldn't have felt so strongly about it.

lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748025)

ABP, idiot.

Hell naw. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748035)

The moment that PSA comes up people's eyes will glaze over. Instead, show some footage of us taking out ISIS to the tune of Kenny Loggin's Danger Zone. Maybe add a link to send one of those free bottles of Coke to the troops at the end or something.

Marketing does not work that way (1)

mrex (25183) | about a month ago | (#47748051)

I kind of doubt that the Red Cross wants their brand slapped on a video that is going to be associated with feelings of rage and extreme negativity by every single viewer. No matter how it was spun, "Act now to prevent..." would come off as a thousand times worse than the very worst of those "show you pictures of starving kids in Africa before hitting you up for a donation" Sally Struthers commercials.

Re: Marketing does not work that way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748073)

That's a great idea! We can send Sally Struthers over to eat ISIS!

What info is censored? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748055)

What info is being censored? We know he was brutally beheaded- do we need to see the technique used? The type of knife? What exactly are we losing by not seeing the video, other than some sick depraved entertainment value?

The ISIS terrorists want this video spread to increase fear of them- we do not need to be helping them. While the video should not be made illegal, it is completely valid for any website to choose not to show it to not support terrorists, and out of having some respect for the unfortunate person murdered and their family.

Re:What info is censored? (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about a month ago | (#47748225)

It's not like You-tube is the only place to obtain it anyway.

Disclaimer: I have not watched it though I have seen similar or worse elsewhere. I'm sure it's grisly enough.

Red Cross is non-political (5, Insightful)

Njovich (553857) | about a month ago | (#47748091)

The Red Cross is non-political for a reason.

If they pick a side they will endanger countless of workers from the Red Cross. The goal of the Red Cross is to provide humanitarian aid and emergency relief.

ISIS may be a bunch of evil maniacs, but let the judging be done by other organisations that don't have to help civilians in the frontlines.

Re:Red Cross is non-political (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748499)

And by not picking a side and pretending that being apolitical will magically protect them from kidnapping and executions, they're already helping the "evil maniacs".

Re:Red Cross is non-political (2)

Kjella (173770) | about a month ago | (#47748713)

And by not picking a side and pretending that being apolitical will magically protect them from kidnapping and executions, they're already helping the "evil maniacs".

You want to pull a "Either you're with us or you're with the terrorists." on the fricking Red Cross? I didn't know Bush was trolling /. but hey if you''ve got another George running for President could you please get Iraq right the third time?

Another idea (1)

ebrandsberg (75344) | about a month ago | (#47748105)

How about post a PSA in it's place, and just not include the snuff films?

The Title. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a month ago | (#47748111)

I was thinking from the title it would be more about how Journalists who get killed gets so much more attention and call to action from both sides of the political spectrum, then say a Red Cross worker or the countless other civilian groups who are facing danger on a daily bases from these people.

If it were a religious (Say a Christian charity) group who had one of its members kills the right will be all angry about it, but the left would be mediocre. However if it was an organized non-religious not for profit group then the Left would raise the flag, while the right would just let it slide.

However when it is a Journalist, the side that no one really wants to piss off, then we get a strong call to action. It is really sad that there is so much disparity between people trying to do the right thing, and how much value they are to the public.

If by "decreeses" you mean "increases", then yes (4, Insightful)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about a month ago | (#47748151)

"but it also reduces the public's access to information"

A) What information does it supposedly reduce? I'm pretty sure you can tell me that something happened without showing me a video. Did you know that there was a 3 car pileup on route 3? Why no I don't because I haven't seen a video of it!

B) Removing the video caused the information to proliferate more due to the Streisand Effect. I literally hadn't heard about the incident until all the fuss was raised about the removal of the video.

Re:If by "decreeses" you mean "increases", then ye (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | about a month ago | (#47748691)

You are unfairly forcing others to operate by the same faith in information sources that you have.

Re:If by "decreeses" you mean "increases", then ye (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about a month ago | (#47748917)

It's hard to take seriously any idiot who argues for his right to watch a gruesome beheading, and more specifically, that a company has an obligation to host said video.

Re:If by "decreeses" you mean "increases", then ye (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748701)

A) Don't even pretend that your response to seeing a beheading, and just hearing about it would be anywhere near the same. As the phrase goes, a picture's worth a thousand words, and this is a video.

B) You are clearly one of the few then, because it's been all over the news before the removal was mentioned.

Re:If by "decreeses" you mean "increases", then ye (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about a month ago | (#47748937)

"You are clearly one of the few then, because it's been all over the news before the removal was mentioned."

That's impossible! Haven't you heard? Nobody knows about it. They have been denied that information!

Re:If by "decreeses" you mean "increases", then ye (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a month ago | (#47748821)

Maybe you should start following some proper news outlets, including some run by traditional news organisations, you know, the ones that search for news and publish it. Go out of your basement and buy a newspaper or so. Or if that's too much, try the online BBC news [bbc.com] .

If you only found out about this by reading about the removal of the video, you're really looking in the wrong places for your news.

Human Dignity Matters (5, Insightful)

jaeztheangel (2644535) | about a month ago | (#47748157)

There are plenty of angry young idiots who will exult in it - let's not give them the pleasure.

I don't wanna see what Bennett has to say. (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a month ago | (#47748159)

We just need a way to make the internet indelible. Censorship is always evil. And I will continue to use the word "censorship" because I don't care who does it.

Re:I don't wanna see what Bennett has to say. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748361)

I wish you to post postive information about your favorite hated topic on your website otherwise its censorship since your argument is that no contentprovider is free to say no to any content.

banning it is stupid (1)

jsepeta (412566) | about a month ago | (#47748189)

of course they should show it. banning events from your service just means that the people who want to see it will seek it out elsewhere.

I myself have no desire to watch it or Faces of Death or the snuffing of human life in 40's WWII newsreels. Man is a terrible creature.

Re:banning it is stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748395)

Outlawing it is stupid. But showing it is exactly what the terrorists want (they want you to see the horrible act, not just know it happened) and the governments love the war on terror too. There is no denied speech (you can discuss the event all you want, even refer to details of the video if you have seen it) or rights taken from anyone. Let people seek it elsewhere, The issue is not that some will see it or that it exists.

But it's ok to view videos of drone/air strikes (1)

X.25 (255792) | about a month ago | (#47748253)

Or videos of disasters that affected hundreds if not thousands of people.

Or videos of killings in civil (and other) wars.

Or videos of plane crashes.

And list goes on and on and on.

But hey - make sure noone sees the video of beheading done by very same people US government has been supporting.

Because that could make US government look more bad (as if it's even possible anymore).

No (5, Interesting)

jmhysong (1560115) | about a month ago | (#47748295)

I don't want to see it, I wouldn't want any kid of mine to see it, and the thought of gore groupies getting a kick out of it sickens me. Also, if it was a family member of mine who was beheaded, I'd be furious at anyone who posted the video.

I know what the word beheaded means, I don't need to see it.

Re: No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748371)

Was it more outrageous to you that CNN covered the indiscriminate bombing of Baghdad at the beginninning of the OIL (Operation Iraqi Liberation) or that its coverage was sanitized in the US for 'proper' domesticate consumption?

What if the victim had not been American? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748335)

What would have happened (within the Twitter and Youtube organizations, as well as in the arena of public opinion) if the victim of that beheading video had been French? Or Swedish? Or Bulgarian? Or Peruvian? Or Congolese? Or Cambodian? Or Tahitian? Don't mean to sound like an anti-Yank bigot, but from what I know, apparently ISIS has published video recordings of more gruesome atrocities every once in a while, mostly perpetrated against locals.

hrm.. (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a month ago | (#47748337)

I suspect Youtube and Twitters removal of the material had less to do with politics, terrorism or anything else you mentioned and had more to do with the video being about the most disgusting thing you could possibly imagine being hosted on their site. This is a breach of their terms of service, plain and simple. The political and social ramifications aside, there is no way either site would ever allow this sort of thing on their site. The first time some soccer mom stumbles across this youtubes getting banned in her house and they sure as heck dont want that.

Re:hrm.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748605)

a beheading is *THE* most disgusting thing you can possibly imagine? you must not have a very good imagination

Imagine beheading this man, and than passing the head around to 20 guys while they take turns fucking the severed head. or picture someone tied to a table while someone cuts holes in their body, again to fuck said wounds

no (1)

CosaNostra Pizza Inc (1299163) | about a month ago | (#47748341)

"Would it be ethical to make the content available, if it was preceded by an advertisement for a cause that runs counter to everything ISIS stands for?" NO

Another option (3, Insightful)

kanweg (771128) | about a month ago | (#47748383)

Put a text label next to the guy on the left reading "hero". Explain why: A man facing his death like Foley did; I don't think I could have handled it like that.
Put a text label to the guy on the right reading "nutcase who believes in nonsense, I'll explain why now".
- Explain that the sun is 150 million kilometers from the sun, and that the sun doesn't sink in a mud pool.
- Explain that the earth rotates about the sun, how this causes the sun to rise at some place on earth at any time. So, there is no deity that tells the sun when to rise.

Point out the surahs in the koran where the two stupid assertions are made.
Then point out that the guy who wrote surahs in the koran wasn't aware of this knowledge, so the koran is not the word of god (and no, it is not misinterpretation. The koran itself says it is clear and unambiguous).

I don't think IS would like to see Foley labeled as hero and explained why the anonymous coward (why hide your face if you believe you're doing something noble?) is nuts in an easy to understand and verify manner.

Bert
As a bonus, you could point out that the knife did what you expect from a knife handled that way. Personally I'd be impressed if he'd prayed him to death. They don't try that. Doesn't work. The deity doesn't exist.

No simple solution (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748783)

[..]Point out the surahs in the koran where the two stupid assertions are made.
Then point out that the guy who wrote surahs in the koran wasn't aware of this knowledge, so the koran is not the word of god

So you just need to point out flaws in the Koran and all the Islamic militants will give up their faith? Why did nobody think of this before?

Properganda Warfare (3, Interesting)

James McGuigan (852772) | about a month ago | (#47748407)

"The internet treats censorship as damage and routes around it"

On a technical level, the video is now out there on the internet and once out you can't put the genie back in the bottle.

Islamic State is a new "empire" currently conducting a war of expansion, much like many of the Western European powers did during the last millennium. The Geneva conventions are in essence a gentleman's agreement between the members of the "nation-state" club as to how to conduct war in a "civilized" manner. Islamic State rejects the fundamental notion that it needs to be bound by the rules and traditions of "western civilization".

In essence what they have done is to publicly execute a hostage for non-payment of ransom, a common practice several centuries ago.

The more political issue is censorship and properganda warfare, who gets to control which information we see. Censorship or adding a non-skippable PSA is all about attempting to control the message, that the little people must not be allowed to think the wrong things, doubly so in a democracy. The war against communism followed a similar pattern of attempting to censor "subversive" ideas, such that Western Civilization isn't the only way to run things.

Re:Properganda Warfare (1)

bigpat (158134) | about a month ago | (#47748759)

On the Western Values issue. I don't think the problem is that we are imposing our values on others. I think the problem is that we aren't even adequately promoting those values here at home. We end up calling for Democracy and Freedom in the rest of the world and then sending arms to whichever dictator and despot is the most willing to brutally suppress any groups that might threaten our foreign policy. Even when those groups are moderate groups simply looking for a more equitable system of government in their own country. And our foreign policy is based not on the spread of freedom and democracy around the world, but based on securing foreign trade and foreign resources for very short term and short sighted economic purposes. If we truly believe that more representative systems of government and more freedom and liberty should be the goal for a more prosperous, equitable and free world, then we should act accordingly. I believe the ideas of liberty and democracy are ideas worth spreading and supporting.

Propaganda all around, blood of innocents on all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748419)

I don't know about blocking videos, but there is the blood of the innocents on all sides. The Islamic State is trying to justify bloodshed against innocents because they are not converting to Islam or whatever. Assad is justifying his attacks on innocents because they won't accept his own personal rule over them. And the rest of us are justifying the killing of innocents committed by our forces as collateral damage even when those deaths are in the hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands. Just stop justifying what never should be.

Really? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748429)

No, no, hell no. There's nothing ethical about using the beheading of a person as a fund raising tool. What the hell is wrong with you...

Screw media memes ... butcher-out the Muzzi-wogs (1)

noshellswill (598066) | about a month ago | (#47748455)

Do you think this JiHadist beheading is a SNL snippet? Feckin-A screw the media ... start large-scale butchering out of Sunni Muzzi-wogs ... make it 1000/1  vengeance:  vaporize men/women/children  in those mideast desert shitewholes and don't stop till noone breathes except in scorpion-infested caves.  Allah Akbar baby.

i think it is important that we remember (3, Interesting)

Chrisq (894406) | about a month ago | (#47748773)

i think it is important that we remember that this is what Islam stands for. Not extremist Islam or a fringe, but exactly what the warlord Muhammad taught. read the Qur'an and you will see many explicit instructions to behead "enemies of Islam" and take women as sex slaves. All Muslims are instructed to subdue non muslims, and give them the choice of living as second class citizens and paying a punitive tax, converting to islam, or being killed.

Dead is dead; Why do we care about this one (1)

cellocgw (617879) | about a month ago | (#47748799)

Murder is a bad thing (let's at least agree on that). So why is the beheading of one person so drastically more awful than the deliberate killing (usually with a gun) of thousands of people whose only crime was not practising the exact same brand of Islam as ISIS? Does nobody here, or at YouFaceTubeBook, care that ISIS is deliberately killing whole villages?
Would it have been OK to kill a kidnapped journalist with a Kevorkian cocktail?

Thinking outside the box (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748801)

I don't know if this is a good idea or not. What I do know, is that it's the kind of thinking we need if we're going to defeat threats such as this. The reasons these groups grow to such levels is usually because we were busy looking at more traditional threats. The bureaucracy that is in charge of protecting us (I'm American, but this could be any country) needs trusted advisers who can think the way this person has.

Video Beheading (1)

khr (708262) | about a month ago | (#47748825)

But if there was some PSA at the beginning of the video, wouldn't people simply edit it to chop that off, then redistribute it?

Then it would accomplish little.

Why do they want us to see it anyway? (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about a month ago | (#47748839)

That's what puzzles me to no end. Why would they want to show us how they behead someone?

To make use hate them? Our media accomplish that easily already, but thanks for the aid.
To make us fear them? Why should I fear a bunch of religious lunatics somewhere off in lalaland? Hell, I'm more afraid of the religious loonies in the Bible belt!
To show us they can do it? Any idiot can kill someone who can't defend himself, no big deal about that.

So, what should that accomplish? I'm sitting here, puzzled, shrugging my shoulders with a "meh".

No. (2)

LWATCDR (28044) | about a month ago | (#47748853)

No you are not helping by watching this at all.
And how are you restricting information from the public? You know that the journalist was beheaded so what information is restricted?
Also you can find the video if you want, believe it or not Twitter and Youtube are not the only websites on the internet.
Censorship is when you are forbidden from transmitting information by any means.
Editorial control is when a channel decides that information is not appropriate for that channel for example you do not see restaurant reviews often on Slashdot.
Civilisation is society judging you for what you say, act, write, advocate, or do.

Maybe an ad for Air Force or Navy recuriting? (0)

LWATCDR (28044) | about a month ago | (#47748883)

The Red Cross.... They will not do a thing to stop ISIS.
Hey we are not fighting a war with ISIS at least that is what the president said.

Terrorist Merchandise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47748891)

So essentially with how most of this discussion is going I guess to most people's minds the right thing to do would be to have the terrorists freely publish their hate filled propaganda, replete with beheading videos and OTOH prevent the NSA from trampling on the poor terrorists rights by scooping off some metadata. I think someone's "True Evil" detector seems to need adjustment....

What's with all the talk about censorship? (1)

mpthompson (457482) | about a month ago | (#47748897)

Can we stop with the screaming of censorship every time a website run by private individuals decides what is or is not appropriate for their website? YouTube and Twitter run their own networks and are free to implement whatever policies they want regarding what videos or other media is served from their site. Of course, they may suffer in the marketplace based on their policy decisions, but sometimes even the right decision has negative consequences.

Personally, if I ran YouTube or Twitter I would have made the exact same decision. However, even I disagreed with their decision in this instance, I would still defend their right to implement whatever policies they desire. Banning the video on their own service is not censorship, it's their right.

Oh please (4, Insightful)

sunking2 (521698) | about a month ago | (#47748899)

The real question is why do we live in a society that thinks they need actually see this as opposed to reading. I didn't need to to go search out the video to understand the significance of what happened. I think the fact we live in a society that seems to "need" to see such is very telling. Whether you've seen it or not changes none of the facts, and in no way should influence how you feel about such matters.
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