Several weeks ago now, it was all over the news that ISIS had burned a captured Jordanian pilot alive. Fox News was supposedly the only outlet to air the entire, unedited video online.
They took a lot of flack for that, with professionals in Washington griping about how doing so just aided the terrorists by spreading terror. To a degree, I see their point.
On the other hand, I was surprised by the level of vitriol spouted in their direction. It was clearly marked as graphic and violent, and you couldn't stumble on it by accident - you had to intentionally search to find the video, and it'd be darn hard not to recognize what you were about to see before you clicked on it.
Was it a horrific event that no sane person should ever hope to witness? Absolutely. But that doesn't make it any less real.
It happened, and in the face of apologist politicians, the gags of politically correct speech, and the wave of young people from democratic western nations abandoning their lives to go join militant Islamic causes in misguided perceptions of glorious holy wars, it seems like there may very well be a legitimate place for such appalling realities in our media and news coverage.
Would those young people still perceive ISIS and its ilk in a positive light if they were confronted with this kind of carnage in all its too-real horror instead of the sanitized, "professional" summaries and carefully selected stills that populate most news reports? Would our politicians still talk about peace and compromise if they had to watch the video and imagine their sons and brothers in that pilot's place?
This war may not be happening on our own turf right now, but that doesn't mean it doesn't affect us. We have men and women in harm's way too, and they could be subject to this kind of horror just as easily. Burying our heads in the sand by suppressing these kinds of videos puts us at a disadvantage. It allows us to pretend or ignore or mitigate cold, harsh realities, and leaves us unprepared when they come crashing into our world. (9/11 anyone?)
The world can be a rough place, and I've no desire to make it any tougher on people by subjecting them to daily onslaughts of all that is dark and evil in the world. But trying to hide it and pretend that such things don't exist by simply refusing en masse to publish the evidence is a foolish and self-handicapping approach to dealing with the challenges we face. We can do better, and we should.
What do you think? Where is the line between facing reality and unnecessarily spreading terror?