Don’t give terrorists a stage

September 6, 2014

Captured by the talented Kim Tackett and used with permission.

When newscaster Walter Cronkite brought the sound and fury of the Vietnam War into our living rooms it marked the evolution of the news and mass media, confirmation that we had become, in fact, a global village. Since then we’ve had a ringside seat to events we can never un-see. Events so horrific they are now seared indelibly–branded– into our eyeballs.

I can’t say I ever thought there would come a day when I could go to a website or turn on the television and see evil men behead other men in living color, up close and personal.

No. I can’t say I ever considered that before it happened.

I can’t say I ever considered that evil could appear in my living space. That I could sit in the comfort of my home drinking a cup of dark coffee — or something stronger– and observe it.

Some religious people believe in the devil. Me? I know evil exists. No tail and pitchfork needed. No religion needed, either.

So what if we knew for a fact that these barbarians count on a world stage, medium, outlet for their vile acts and if the media didn’t publicize them, they would stop?

That without a bully pulpit there would be no impact and no reason to slice men’s heads off?  What if we knew that for a fact?

Would we forgo our much-vaunted right to know everything? Would the media hold back in recognition that freedom of the press is working in favor of evil?

Probably not.

We have some screwy priorities.

Current events ARE making me tense. Upset and tense.

Evil has always existed, even in modern times. I mean, six million Jews were executed in the 20th century. Genocide runs rampant in Africa. Young female children are raped and killed in India.  I could go on.  Evil exists.

But when we give political evil a stage, it seems to get worse. 

Since the internet and instant video give evil immediate access to an audience, terrorists get a quick payoff.  Cut off a head and it’s all over the Web. Serious-toned newscasters and pundits gravely discuss or emotionally debate. The President is criticized.  Fox News stamps its feet. Parents cry and plead for the lives of those still breathing. It is a dance and we are all complicit. We have our roles, our steps and we play them like automatons.

Although I don’t take my own ringside seat to the atrocities, I can’t see that our society will give its seats up. Our institutions, like the press, won’t forgo their shocking headlines and selling their shaving cream and potato chips for the possibility of saving lives.

Will not happen.

We must have our electronic colosseum and there must be blood.

As for me, well, I can’t consume this horrific stuff and I don’t.  For someone like me who believes there is a plan, a purpose a lesson, well, my beliefs are being tested to their limit. Someone like me, who believes only God has the right to take a life, can be tempted to join in the crowd calling for the death of these savages.  It is hard to stand fast for my what I know is right in the face of such depravity.

Like so many others, I can only cry out into the darkness:

Oh, my God, my God, what has the world come to?


Don’t give terrorists a stage.



10 comments on “Don’t give terrorists a stage
  1. kim tackett says:

    I don’t have the stomach for violence, towards anything (seriously, I am the only person who can’t watch Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones), so it’s pretty easy for me to turn away from violent images on screen. When an online news outlet continues to highlight a horrific image, I just don’t go there. But I also feel a responsibility to NOT look away, and pay attention to the people who have suffered and given their lives. So often I am struck (and stuck) between not wanting to give evil a platform, but also honoring those who lost their lives by spending time with the story. Then of course, I have to antidote by spending time on stories of love, hope and good. What a world, eh? And you’re welcome for the image. Bolinas, CA…where good, love an hope live.

  2. Nora says:

    This requires some thought. I think freedom of the press is one of the most important rights we have in the U.S for it can hep stem tyrants and wrong doing. On the other hand, I am certain that every time the news give full tilt coverage to horrific events, the “enemy” dances with joy since the press has fueled their goals. I think such acts need to be covered, but I’d love to see a way where it doesn’t feed into the hands of the perpetrators or, as in the case of school shootings, etc., give others ideas of horrible things they can do.

    Carol, I thick you’ve opened up a great discussion area and would love to read what others think.

  3. Truly, truly, AMEN to this. I cannot watch such horrific events. And it turns my stomach that some of my “friends” post and repost.

  4. Lisa Froman says:

    Powerfully expressed. I don’t know what to add other than to say that I think balance is needed in this upside down world. Freedom of the press is important so we can be educated; however, when it becomes an excuse for showcasing violence or improving ratings….well, that sucks. (How’s that for eloquence?) I agree the news should be covered responsibly and it is up to us to take in what we can discern and then guard our loins against the rest. I wouldn’t watch the videos of the beheadings nor would I look at the pictures of a naked Jennifer Lawerence after she was hacked because I don’t want to support evildoers or let them touch my spirit. I guess we all have to find a balance about being educated–which is our responsibility–and being manipulated. Well-done piece.

  5. I get so dizzy going back and forth with what the right answer is here. I agree that giving them a stage empowers them but on the other hand if we don’t see the terror do we really believe it is happening?
    The horrific images affect my life, it makes my PTSD hard to manage but with a national media that is more interested in entertaining than it is in facts, I fear we would never know of the horrific human rights violations.
    I think we should show images of the terrorists and their families, their neighborhoods etc… Really expose them. Maybe that would take some of their power away. Maybe their families and neighbors would be more likely to turn them in.
    So confusing.

  6. Donna Hanton says:

    After the Sandy Hook shootings, I couldn’t, and didn’t, watch or listen to the news for months. I read the headlines online so I still knew what was going on in the world. I do watch the evening news again now, but will not watch the graphic images. As you point out, we cannot unsee what’s been seen. Freedom of the press is vital to ensure against ignorance. I’m not sure though that sensationalizing atrocities is necessary to that end. The state of the world seems desperate at the moment, and agree that this upsetting. To counteract this, I try to remember that, in its bias to report the bad and evil, the press under-reports the good that still exists. Some days that helps!

  7. Mark Fine says:

    I’ve lost faith in the virtue of the press. The moment was when Tim Russert died in 2008. Prior to that bleak moment I respected the Editorial perspective of a network or newspaper (no matter which way it leaned) knowing that objective reportage would populate the body of work. It was up to the National Enquirer to provide gratuitous sensationalism.

    Alas, the Enquirer is now quaintly moderate (if still a bit tawdry) and the, for lack of a better label, main stream media is solely in the business of sensationalism—blood and gore sells, and bloodier the better. Alas taste, restraint, evenhandedness, wisdom, balanced debate, and pure unadulterated information has vanished.

    In part, trying to keep up with the relentless churn of the net is to blame….but surely when it comes down to basic human decency, such as the barbaric beheading of our own, some decorum would and should have manifested itself. No such luck…

    I wonder what Walter Cronkite, Margaret Bourke-White, Ben Bradlee, Katharine Graham, and Edward R. Murrow would have done faced with your very important question…is media the oxygen that further ignites the flame…??

  8. Lana says:

    I cannot watch any of it. Our media has lost their way; it’s all about ratings now, rather than objectively reporting the news and happenings in our world. Unfortunately, even without the media, there are so many ways for these terrorists to be “heard”. I don’t know what the answer is.

  9. Pat says:

    Well said, Carol. “Don’t give terrorists a stage” should be everyone’s mantra.

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