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Thursday, September 23, 2004
Beheading, Morbid Curiousity and Psychobabble

By Steven Taylor @ 7:45 am

(Note: I realized that I did not post the complete version of the post last night, so here it is-I have deleted the one I posted last night):

After noting the OTB traffic issue, I noticed this story on Google News: 1 million Web users click to see beheading / 50,000 an hour visit site to see U.S. captive’s slaughter

Dan Klinker operates a Web site carrying Monday’s video of a hooded man cutting off the head of U.S. contract worker Eugene “Jack” Armstrong. More than 1 million users had clicked those images into their personal computers, he said.

Six Internet servers, according to Klinker, are “barely able to handle the traffic” of 50,000 visitors per hour who are angling for a peek at the grisly death of Armstrong.

Two things strike me here: 1) like the Nick Berg video, this situation underscroes how information will get out in the internet age, and 2) there are a remarkable number of persons who wish to see this stuff.

From Berg forward, I have had no need to see the videos and have only viewed a limited number of still photos. I am sufficiently satisfied of the evil of these individuals that I don’t need to have it reinforced. However, as I wrote at the time, I do agree that the facts of these events ought to be disseminated so that we are continually aware of who the enemy is, and what they are capable of. It would seem that the beheadings of Hensely and Armstrong has sparked interest of what had almost become background events. Unfortunately I am afraid that the gory video is more the reason for the interest than the actual news itself.

On a side note, there is a serious amount of psychobabble in the piece linked above:

“Everyone wants to look. It is a universal human reaction to tragedy,'’ said Levy. “There is both relief - ‘Thank God it wasn’t me’ - and identification with the victim - ‘What must it have been like?’ ‘’

Similar emotions may lie behind the phenomenal box office success of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” which depicted in excruciating detail the torture and execution of Jesus. The film reportedly has grossed more than $600 million worldwide, and 4.1 million copies of the DVD were sold on the first day it was released.

In the movie world, the relentless technological improvements in special effects have made the violence depicted on screen ever more realistic, and more believable. But there is a fundamental difference between the movie magic that made Arnold Schwarzenegger a multimillionaire, and the crude sadism of Armstrong’s killing.

“Schwarzenegger’s films are so popular,” Levy said, “because they are realistic and believable-but are only a game.”

Somehow I think that the success of the Passion is somewhat different from the reason people look at the beheading videos. And there is yet another reason why Schwarzenegger films are popular. No doubt there is a small segment of the audience for each of the three that overlaps, but my guess is that the overlap is far smaller than Levy suggests.

Filed under: Iraq: War on Terror
  • Outside The Beltway linked with Beheading Videos Top Sellers in Iraq

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  1. I agree Steven. Having watched one of the Faces of Death way back in college, I was revolted enough (and probably scared too) not to need to see another beheading or another live death.

    But if watching something like that, Nick Berg as you mention, or the carnage from the towers compels us to talk and act to better our world so that these things don’t happen again, perhaps its for the best.

    Even if we quibble over the details of how.

    Comment by Eric — Thursday, September 23, 2004 @ 11:11 am

  2. I refer to the videos everytime someone asks: why we are in iraq, why are we fighting Islamic terrorists, and why is it important to establish a viable government in Iraq. I also refer to the 911 videos which show Americans jumping from WTC towers and brave police, firefighters sacrificing themselves.

    Comment by K. Kiger — Thursday, September 23, 2004 @ 1:59 pm

  3. At the same time one has to show the carnage of the people in Iraq at the same time. Because americans aren’t the only ones dying.

    Comment by Eric — Thursday, September 23, 2004 @ 8:13 pm

  4. I take the point. However, we aren’t randomly grabbing innocent Iraqis, terrorizing them, and then gruesomely killing them for the evening news.

    The point about these beheadings is about terrorism. And please don’t try to tell me that Zarqawi and his crew are freedom fighters simply trying to free the Iraqis from occupation. Zarqawi is a Jordanian-born terrorist who is opportunistically using this situation. He no more cares for the Iraqi people than he does for the little green men on Mars.

    Comment by Steven Taylor — Thursday, September 23, 2004 @ 8:29 pm

  5. I viewed both the Nick Berg beheading and the Eugene Armstrong beheading. Why? I wanted to see if it were digitally created, or real. If real, I wanted a blunt understanding as to the viciousness of these people. As an ex-Marine I’ve seen much over the years as I am now 58. The Nick Berg tape totally shocked me. However, it appeared “created” due to the gaps. I found Mr. Armstrong’s excution to be even more violent. He lived and suffered through the entire ordeal. May God take them both to His side immediately.

    Although very gruesome, morbid and extremely horrendous these murders should be required viewing for every adult in America. I feel it would make US citizens wake up and have a better understanding of our enemies. These are very dedicated people, though we view them as vicious.
    They are commited to removing all Christians and Jews from the face of the earth. This is a religious war to them. They are as, or more, dedicated to their beliefs as the Cong. We know the results of that “war".

    The Isrealies have found that a terrorist war cannot be “won” as they have been fighting one for many years. A free society cannot fight this type of war. However, they, as we, must stay the course. I’m afraid that this is just the beginning. 9-11 and Iraq are just the start and this will continue for years and become much more difficult for the US.

    Pray for Nick and Eugene as well as we here in
    the US. It also wouldn’t hurt to add a prayer for the those innocent citizens in Iraq whom just want to raise their families and don’t care at all about the political implecation of the war. Unfortunately, they are simply caught in the middle of all this just as we.

    God bless!

    Comment by Jim Byrne — Sunday, September 26, 2004 @ 12:23 am

  6. No matter what kind of war you see it as, inocent lives from all over the globe are being lost. Its not just American and British, its Iraqis also. They dont want to lose sons and doughters any more than you or I. But yes, they are traped in the middle of world superpowers. We use tanks, planes, and thousands of troups to chase men through the desert who cary $13 rifles and behead inocent people to prove a point. Think about it though….what would you do as an imerging nation with a multi-billion dollar monster on YOUR ass? Probably the same thing if you could barely defend your self. And lest we forget there is still a war going on in Afganistan as we speak. No mater where you are from or what language you speak, inocent lives are a sad thing to lose.

    Comment by Scott B. — Sunday, September 26, 2004 @ 9:38 am

  7. All true-but you are presupposing that the beheaders and terrorists are simply trying to oust the imperialists. This isn’t the case. Further, the US is going around painting targets on innocents and using them as examples to teach the Iraqisa lesson.

    And again: Zarqawi is Jordanian, not Iraqi.

    Comment by Steven Taylor — Sunday, September 26, 2004 @ 2:17 pm

  8. What the terrorists are doing is all that is left for them to do. Women and children are not even off limits anymore, these people have no code. I just wish Bush would find these terrorists so we can make examples of them. Obviously the war is not going to be stepped up till after the elections, which is BS. We have been to undecisive in fighting this war and have given the enemy time to regroup in certain situations (like Al Sadr). Another thing, isn’t it diffrent that after WW2 we occupied Japan and we did’nt have terrorists are insurgents attacking our soldiers.

    Comment by Todd — Tuesday, September 28, 2004 @ 3:30 am

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