I read an earlier version of this article and later this evening one of the local radio talk show types was discussing the situation. A little boy from Webster accidentally hanged himself. Another boy in Pakistan apparently did the same thing. Both boys had seen news reports which included video footage of Saddam Hussein’s hanging.
I heard several different arguments concerning blame, the media, and publicly showing executions. I’d like to take them one by one, but I don’t think I truly be able to address all of the aspects.
First, the radio talk show host and several of his callers blamed the children’s parents for not properly supervising their children. Family of the local boy questioned why the video had to be shown on television. Police called it an accident. A clinical psycholigist quoted in the article points out that there have been other incidents of children acting out things they had seen on television. In my view these were terrible accidents. And yes, parents should be aware of and filter what their children see on television. But personally, I can think of absolutely no reason whatsoever to have shown that video footage at all, much less the numerous times and at various times of day that was by all of the networks. Even if none of the stations showed the actual hanging, no legitimate purpose was served by showing any of it.
That point brings me to another argument I heard tonight and have heard for the past few days — that showing the video — especially all of it — would serve as a deterant to other tyrants around the world, and that having public executions in general would deter criminals in general. Neither one of these arguments makes any sense to me. Were there any logic to them, we would be living in a perfect world now. Public hangings, executions, and mutilations were common in human history and none of those acts stopped people on this planet from committing crimes or becoming tyrants. I would actually argue that the availability of war porn on the Internet has turned formally fairly normal people into either bloodthirsty *kill them all* types or bed-wetters or both.
One other explanation I heard tonight was that the two boys must have committed suicide. Given the children’s ages and the other information, this appears to be the least likely possibility.
The family of the local boy is trying to collect money to send his body back to Guatemala for burial. Crespo Funeral Home (713-644-3831) is handling the arrangements.