Beheading and the role of video…

David Vance links to a Mark Steyn piece on the killing of Ken Bigley. Regarding public taste and decency it’s right on the edge. It’s not in the least surprising the Daily Telegraph pulled its publication. In parts, it is every bit as offensive as the Billy Connelly quote, which provoked Eilis O’Hanlon’s ire last weekend.

But he argues that in the UK and Ireland that we’ve been missing the effects elsewhere of the fate of other hostages. And in particular how the gruesome videos have been used selectively for PR effect:

“…consider Fabrizio Quattrocchi, murdered in Iraq on April 14th. In the moment before his death, he yanked off his hood and cried defiantly,

  • maca

    Btw…if anyone is curious enough to seek out the videos I strongly advise you NOT to watch them. You’ll probably regret it.

  • smcgiff

    I take it you have, Maca. Unfortunately my imagination is only too graphic as it stands.

  • David Vance

    The idea that this is “offensive” baffles me and I feel that what this demonstrates is the failure of far too many (including the increasingly limp-wristed Daily Telegraph)to face the facts. The UK media DID indulge the kidnappers, they DID grant them the publicity and the opportunity to further weaken Blair that they sought – when Mark points out the obvious he is attacked. I can’t think why. As for the timing of the article, it’s called contemporary journalism.

  • North Antrim Realist

    It’s not all that often I agree with DV but he is correct on this occasion as is Mark Steyn. Why is Ken Bigley’s death more important than anyone else’s’ apparently because the media decided that that it wanted to publicise it.

    He went to Iraq I suppose for a salary that was much more than his normal worth because of the risks and now when he has paid the price for the unreasonable risks he deliberately took we should all feel sorry for him.

    It was his decision and his alone to place hinself in that position and the media frenzy was completely out of proportion to his importance. It is sad when anyone dies but when people deliberately put themselves in that position it is a little less sad than those who are completely innocent. The man who is killed because he was drinking and driving will get less sympathy than those he kills becasue of his actions, in this case Ken Bigley was behind the wheel of his own misfortune.

  • peteb

    It’s not that the main point of Mark Steyn’s article should be viewed as offensive. It’s the content. Just as an example, Paul Bigley isn’t just some ‘freelancer’ as Steyn dismissively refers to him, he’s the brother of a man who was brutally, and now publicly, murdered.

  • David Vance

    He’s a political freelancer – like it or not.

  • maca

    I’ve seen a couple S

  • peteb

    That’s a different argument, maca.

    If Steyn had intended the media to be the main focus of his article then he should have taken the opportunity, which appears to have been offered by the Telegraph editor, to rewrite the piece appropriately. As the article stands the Bigley family seem to be higher on his list.

  • Rebecca Black

    North Antrim Realist

    I take the points you are making but I have to say I have found the Ken Bigley stuff very affective, I think its impossible not to sympathise deeply with the Bigley family, equally with the two American families too whose sons/Husbands/brothers suffered an equally inhumane end. Bigley’s was worse however in that he was made to suffer and wait, and also forced to make those horrible videos.

    I think its now up to our Government to withdrew all British nationals from Iraq and therefore not allow what has happened to happen again. Its just far too dangerous to go out there.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Is beheading still a method of state punishment in Saudi Arabia?

  • Emily

    Last I heard Gonzo, yes, though I believe the Saudi government position is that it is only reserved for the worst of crimes. Who knows what this means in a theocracy. I’d check Amnesty International or HRW for more details.

  • maca

    There are worse ways to go if it’s done right. You can guarantee in Iraq it won’t be done right. Change the subject please 😉

  • David Christopher

    I fear Blair has too much personally staked in Iraq by now to pull the British troops out of there, even though much of the British government and military must realise by now they’re in a disastrous hole there, and digging deeper by the day.

    Despite his disastrous debate performance, I still think Bush has a better than 50-50 chance of winning re-election – and Bush has his everything staked in Iraq, I think he will just escalate and escalate in response to the growing insurgency. That, and carry on the theatre of his puppet-state, puppet prime-minister, fake elections and South Vietnamese (oops, I mean, Iraqi) army…

    Kerry on the other hand is all over the place on Iraq but, despite his warlike rhetoric, which he seems to think necessary in the present US political climate, he strikes me as an intelligent man. Faced with the growing insurgency, and falling public support for the war, Kerry may have the werewithal to pull out before more lives are lost.

  • Davros

    Can the USA pull out legally ? Having invaded and caused damage, under international law it has responsibilities.

  • smcgiff

    ‘Can the USA pull out legally ? Having invaded and caused damage, under international law it has responsibilities.’

    Well, they invaded illegally, so I don’t see that particular law causing them to loose any sleep!

  • mucky

    Steyn’s introduction to the piece is better than the piece itself and I’d broadly agree with his sentiments (not something that happens often). Unfortunately, he makes ultimately needless assumptions about Bigley and his family in the first half of the piece before he gets to the point in the second half. He also fails to point out the fact that Bigley tried to escape his captors which was just as brave a move as ‘wrecking the video’.

    I don’t think the article should have been pulled but it is interesting to note that Steyn makes his point pretty concisely when introducing the piece and then uses a lump hammer when writing it.

  • Michael Turley

    Apart from a couple of typically offensive Steynisms the article is worth reading. Certainly more thought provoking than Eilis O’Hanlons bland attack on Billy Connolly.

  • peteb

    I’d just point out that the Irish Examiner ran an opinion piece a week ago that contains a far better analysis of the manipulation of the modern mass media in regard to the Bigley case than Steyn managed. Blogged on Slugger here