Giving in to Lurid Curiosity

beheading copy

Earlier this month Facebook came under fire for allowing users to share a graphic video of the beheading of a Mexican woman (a screen shot is shown above). After see-sawing back and forth on the decision whether they should allow such a thing, the website ultimately took down the video. According to The Telegraph, Facebook felt that it was not appropriate to allow viewers to access content that “[glorifies] violence.”

We could go on with discussing this decision in light of the First Amendment and the wild west nature of the wide open Internet, but this post isn’t about that. It’s about giving in to lurid curiosity and allowing hurtful, damaging content to find a home in our minds. One can only imagine that the video of the woman is shocking. But be honest: If given the chance, would you watch it? If anything, just out of curiosity? I’ll admit that I nearly watched it myself. But just as I was about to click the play button, I quickly stopped and closed my browser window. Why? At the last second I found myself thinking “You have no business watching this disgusting video—nothing good can come from it. Don’t signal your approval by watching it.”

I think Jenny McCartney of The Telegraph said it best: “Some videos should never be watched.” Indeed. Such content is available on the Internet if you look for it, and as McCartney points out, it’s likely that we will continue to be tempted. “The censors are retreating,” she writes, “but the test of character throughout history has not been how you behave when you are prevented from doing something questionable. It’s how you behave when you are allowed [to].”

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2 thoughts on “Giving in to Lurid Curiosity

  1. Brock Nanson says:

    The article penned by Jenny McCartney to which you refer also mentions the idea of ‘snuff films’ and mentions that nobody should be allowed to earn profits from such material. Given the amount of advertising on typical social media pages (or pretty much every web page these days), any content on those pages attracting viewers is also, by default, providing a revenue stream to the advertisers. With this financial reality in mind, it follows that this video clip fits the definition of a ‘snuff film’, if loosely applied. Somebody is profiting from it being posted…

  2. Jeffrey Maciejewski says:

    Great point, Brock. Profiting from these things is a whole other issue.

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