BBC -- European news broadcasts won't show the beheading of Paul Johnson because the scenes violate standards of public decency. Those standards don't apply to bloggers who opt to link to the online video and image files. I wonder if they understand how their simple act of linking enhances the vile act itself?
Rewind to October 1984 in Jeddah, Saudia Arabia. You would find me there, guest of an American compound. We spent more than a week, enjoying the lazy sunshine inside the walls and working on a broken aircraft engine on a remote part of the international airport parking ramp. We spent most of the time inside the compound's three foot thick walls. I remember many things vividly from that goldfish bowl experience because it seemed that I was part of a show.
- Public sentence for adultery. A large dump truck backed up and discharged its load of stones on top of a woman buried up to her head in the sand. She had committed adultery.
- A policeman's right thumb and forefinger were cut off because he had been caught shoplifting.
- The American Embassy staff came looking for one of my aircrew because his shoes had a unique tread that appeared to put the word "Allah" in the sand as he walked. In the Arab world, it is impolite to walk on Allah. You can lose your feet for that indiscretion.
- Our taxi cab was stopped by the religious police because a woman was seated in the rear seat between two men, neither her husband.
- Young men would simply walk away from their high-powered Mercedes and BMW cars when they ran out of petrol.
- Large monuments were placed prominently in roundabouts, such as the first water pump from a community or the first fire engine used by a town. They stood out like circus ornaments, percariously perched on their noses for viewing.
Back then, the Saudis wanted me to see the zeal with which they meted out justice. Today, the executioners of Paul Johnson revel in the same hope, counting on the horrific images of the contractor's death being pushed around the Interent by those more motivated by snuff than by news.
Western standards of newscasting exist as much to protect public values as they do to facilitate the public need to know. The public needs to know there was an execution. The public does not need to see the act or hear the screams. If this was an acceptable practise, there would be a premium service offered by an American newsfeed on the occasion of every capital punishment in the States. For good reason, that's not happening. For the same good reason, the beheading of Paul Johnson should remain out of the public view as well.
Posted by Bernie Goldbach, who has walked the sand of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, knowing it's difficult not to carry your own precepts in stride. x_ref125mc
China View -- "Islamist website shows photos of beheaded Johnson"
BBC -- "Video threat to US Hostage in Saudi"
Google had 10,200 references to "islamist website johnson" two days after the execution and 12,100 a day later.