Torture Videos For All to See?

February 6, 2015
Susan Kweskin

Is it okay for the media to show terrorist-sponsored torture videos? Are there no psychological effects of this kind of “show”?

In a world of relentless horror stories from around the globe, surely the news this week about the burning of a caged prisoner being held by ISIS stands out as an act of breathtaking brutality. I guess "novelty" is the point. The world must be getting used to beheadings. I was nauseated when I heard this particular news.

And when I looked online to find out the details behind the headlines, I was stunned – perhaps naively – to find that the video of this act is posted on at least one major US network-- and it’s also easy to find on social media.

Who in their right mind would want to watch a terrified person burning to death while gleeful captors sing or chant? I don’t-- and I didn’t. I clicked off.

But comments on Twitter suggest that lots of people found this particular video too tempting to ignore. How many young social media devotees will find it inadvertently? How likely is it that an “EXTREMELY GRAPHIC VIDEO” warning will discourage kids from watching?

An organization dedicated to the suppression of free speech and freedom of the press uses our media as propaganda to spread its own message of terror? News from journalists is one thing, but easily accessed terrorist-sponsored videos of a vile act on our networks? That’s a whole other ball game.

Is it okay for the media to post torture videos or even photos where all can see? Are there no psychological effects of this kind of “show”?

Please tell me?