Terrorizing the First Amendment

Here's a fascinating example of people who just don't get it:

The first time she felt numb. The second time she cried. Lillian Glass, a Beverly Hills psychologist, was stunned at the barbarity of terrorists beheading their hostages, right there on her computer screen. Equally surprising was how easily she found the video online.

"You can't imagine anything worse," she says. "Right now, they're coming into your home. It's like they're using technology as a vehicle for war."

Ritual beheading is as primitive as war gets. But 21st century technology is making the grisly details of such killings visible to millions around the world.

In what has become a war of images, the slayings of businessman Nicholas Berg, engineer Paul M. Johnson Jr. and South Korean interpreter Kim Sun Il have been publicized through both conventional media channels and the raw, unfiltered chambers of the Internet.

It is impossible to say how many people have watched the videos over the Internet. But "Nick Berg" was the second most popular search request on Google in May, following "American Idol (news - web sites)." Last week, the most popular search was for "Paul Johnson."

FBI Supervisory Special Agent Kenneth McGuire, who oversees the cyber-crime squad in Los Angeles, says that disseminating video of such violent acts over the Internet is a new form of cyber-terrorism one proving difficult to contain.

Some Internet services have tried to shut down sites that host such videos, but the images continue to flow. Over the weekend there were new kidnappings and threats of beheading, and with them, the possibility of more videos to come.


First of all, considering the war over phraseology, shouldn't I be called a "cyber extremist" and not a "cyber terrorist"? More seriously, I think that if Special Agent McGuire can't distinguish between terrorists and an outraged citizen showing the terrorists' handiwork to others, then something is very wrong with him, and the FBI. He seems unable to understand that there are people in this country who are living in such a state of denial about terrorism that they believe Americans are the real terrorists. They've been inundated with images of abu Ghraib, and have lost perspective.

Obviously, there are squeamish people who should not watch beheading videos. Nor, obviously, should they watch the video of abu Ghraib atrocities under Saddam Hussein. So why on earth would they do so? And why would they blame the medium which made the videos available? For them to say that they have been "terrorized" when they've Googled a web site, downloaded a video and then watched it is preposterous. And I submit that if they feel terrorized, they ought to blame the terrorists who did the things depicted in the film. If they come here, they ought to bear in mind that I only did what they did; I found the video and downloaded it. I made it (and others) available for the reasons I have set forth here, here, here, here, and here.

And here's some dean of journalism, trotted out to echo the control freaks who want to censor the Internet:

Not everyone buys the explanation, posted by one website, that it aims to "discourage" terrorists by showing how evil they are. Tom Kunkel, president of American Journalism Review, called the justification a "fig leaf."

"Any news outlet or any private individual, for that matter who makes available footage of the actual beheadings is, to my mind, an accessory to the crime itself," says Kunkel, dean of journalism at the University of Maryland. "Those are the individuals who are essentially finishing the work of the terrorists, by delivering their grisly 'message.' "

Accessory to the crime by showing videos of the crime? I guess that means the Americans were accessories to Nazi war crimes by showing all the concentration camp footage all these years (including gruesome films of experiments on live prisoners made by the Nazis themselves).

Does the History Channel know about this?

As to the "explanation, posted by one website, that it aims to 'discourage' terrorists by showing how evil they are," I can't speak for others, but Kunkel completely misses the point (although curiously, and unlike most journalists, he uses the word "terrorist" instead of the de rigueur "extremist"). While it is true that the beheading videos show how evil the terrorists are, only a fool would claim that this would "discourage" them.

The only way to discourage terrorists is to kill them, Mr. Kunkel! And if seeing that video helps fuel the warrior spirit which is required, then that's reason enough to help make it available.

I can't speak for other blogs or web sites, but reading through the comments people have left shows that people are overwhelmingly outraged, horrified, and angry at the terrorists. Which they should be -- and this sense of outrage I don't think they'd get from watching the evening news or reading the daily paper.

If that's what's being done to Americans, why shouldn't they be allowed to see it?

And maybe -- just maybe -- if enough people are outraged and sickened, the cash won't flow as easily into terrorist coffers. There's evidence that even some of their supporters are sickened: according to Jim Dunnigan,

The terrorists have learned that the beheading routine is counterproductive and even offends many of their own supporters. (Link.)
How do you suppose the terrorist supporters became offended? If Special Agent McGuire and Dean Kunkel had their way, no one (except, I suppose, "the authorities") would have seen the videos. Just reports of heads being cut off.

Stuff like that you can read in history books, or certain religious books.

But seeing is believing.

And context is everything. The beheading videos are unedited, and show the cruelty and the demonic nature of our enemy, lest we forget.

No shots of an American president playing golf are spliced in.

UPDATE: Here's an example of the warrior spirit these beheadings engender:

From: AABufalo@aol.com
Date: Mon, 28 Jun 2004 08:37:43 EDT
Subject: Letter to the Terrorists in Iraq
To: AABufalo@aol.com

This letter is for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, ''Islamic Response,'' and the rest of the so-called "insurgents" in Iraq. I obviously do not have an e-mail address for these vermin, so I am forwarding this letter to my entire address book in the hope you good people will forward it to as many people as possible, and that eventually through the miracle of the internet it somehow ends up in the hands of the intended recipients. Thank you all for your assistance.

To the terrorists currently operating in Iraq,

I see that you have captured a U. S. Marine, and that you plan to cut off his head if your demands are not met. Big mistake. Before you carry out your threat I suggest you read up on Marine Corps history. The Japanese tried the same thing on Makin Island and in a few other places during World War Two, and came to regret it. Go ahead and read about what then happened to the mighty Imperial Army on Tarawa, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. They paid full price for what they did, and you will too.

You look at America and you see a soft target, and to a large extent you are right. Our country is filled with a lot of spoiled people who drive BMWs, sip decaf lattes and watch ridiculous reality TV shows. They are for the most part decent, hard working citizens, but they are soft. When you cut off Nick Berg's head those people gasped, and you got the media coverage you sought, and then those people went back to their lives. This time it is different. We also have a warrior culture in this country, and they are called Marines. It is a brotherhood forged in the fire of many wars, and the bond between us is stronger than blood. While it is true that this country has produced nitwits like Michael Moore, Howard Dean and Jane Fonda who can be easily manipulated by your gruesome tactics, we have also produced men like Jason Dunham, Brian Chontosh and Joseph Perez. If you don't recognize those names you should. They are all Marines who distinguished themselves fightin! g to liberate Iraq, and there will be many more just like them coming for you.

Before the current politically correct climate enveloped our culture one of the recruiting slogans of our band of brothers was "The Marine Corps Builds Men." You will soon find out just how true that is. You, on the other hand, are nothing but a bunch of women. If you were men you would show your faces, and take us on in a fair fight. Instead, you are cowards who hide behind masks and decapitate helpless victims. If you truly represented the interest of the Iraqi people you would not be ambushing those who come to your country to repair your power plants, or sabotage the oil pipelines which fuel the Iraqi economy. Your agenda is hate, plain and simple.

When you raise that sword over your head I want you to remember one thing. Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun is not alone as he kneels before you. Every Marine who has ever worn the uniform is there with him, and when you strike him you are striking all of us. If you think the Marines were tough on you when they were cleaning out Fallujah a few weeks ago you haven't seen anything yet. If you want to know what it feels like to have the Wrath of God called down upon you then go ahead and do it. We are not Turkish truck drivers, or Pakistani laborers, or independent contractors hoping to find work in your country. We are the United States Marines, and we will be coming for you.

Andy Bufalo
MSgt USMC (Ret)

While I think it's true that there are people who went back to their lives, there are others who won't forget. They may not all be Marines, but the more the better. In my view, those who don't want Americans to see the graphic evidence of the terrorists' handiwork are trying to thwart this warrior spirit. As to their reasons, it's a matter of speculation....

posted by Eric on 06.30.04 at 05:19 PM


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Terrorizing the First Amendment:

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Tracked on July 1, 2004 9:47 AM


Indeed. Some people have to see it to believe it. Even then, some won't believe. But you can still try...

They are not "extremists", they are terrorists, murderers, thugs. You and I are extremists -- in defense of liberty and in pursuit of justice. Keep up the good work.

Well said.

Any member of the FBI who thinks letting people see this barbarism for themselves is terrorism should be fired.

David   ·  July 1, 2004 10:44 PM

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