There has been some discussion after the most recent beheading of an American journalist that displaying the images is counterproductive. I considered the argument credible enough to address it and wanted to speak on the subject and welcome the debate.
Yesterday after the news broke that journalist Steven Sotloff had been murdered in the same gruesome fashion that James Foley had been murdered, I posted the news together with an image of Sotloff next to an ISIS terrorist seemingly moments before his murder. There are those who feel that displaying such images gives ISIS exactly what they are looking for, notoriety, attention, and a lot of frightened people. I will be honest. I’m on the fence regarding this issue. With that said it is easy for me to make both sides of the argument.
ISIS, or ISIL, appears to be in some ways as literal as any terrorist group we’ve ever seen. What I mean by that is that their number one weapon of choice is fear. They are literally focused on pushing their agenda by generating as much fear and terror as they possibly can. More than likely it explains how they blitzed across Northern Iraq to a crumbling Iraqi army. They want to terrorize every American watching and want to instill fear into every civilized person on the planet. The videos and photos they release are designed to create that effect, and it can be argued that displaying them plays right into their hands.
The other side of the argument is that the display of the images and videos changes nothing other than awareness. Awareness may manifest itself in horror, but we must ask ourselves this question. Is it better to be horrified and aware of an impending danger or peacefully ignorant to its existence? Granted there is a middle ground. We can be aware without being terrified. But fear is an emotion we can control. If we actually see those images and or videos and rather than being afraid we become angry and determined, an argument can be made that the displays actually backfired on the terrorists.
I’m not really sure what is correct. I clearly lean towards the second option as evidenced in the photograph I displayed yesterday, but I am so uncertain and respectful of the other opinion that I have chosen a different picture today. It’s a fluid situation as I expect my feelings on the subject will be as well.
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