Snuff Films: When Freedom of Speech Goes Too Far


ISIS has become infamous across the world for its ruthless killings of hostages and recording it all on video. In late Dec. 2014, Jordanian pilot First Lt Moaz al-Kasasbeh crashed in ISIS-controlled territory and became their next victim. When demands were not met by the Jordanian government, al-Kasasbeh faced an incredibly gruesome death: being set on fire while locked inside of a cage. This horrific act was captured in a 22-minute video and shared by the terrorist group. When U.S. news networks were notified of this execution and its video, they all chose not to share the gruesome footage.

Well, except for one of them: Fox News. On Fox News’ website, the video was made accessible with a warning that stated it was very graphic in nature. Fox’s Executive Editor John Moody stated, “We decided that giving readers of the option to see for themselves the barbarity of ISIS outweighed the legitimate concerns about the graphic nature of the video.” With its reputation of fear-mongering and sensationalizing the news, it is not very surprising that this was the network that chose to share the video.

When ISIS records these videos, they are hoping to reach as large of an audience as possible, so why would Fox play into this? One can believe that al-Kasasbeh was burned to death without sharing the gruesome images. It is important to report the news and use freedom of speech to speak out against injustice, but it is tasteless to share a video of a dignified man being murdered in such a despicable, undignified manner. This is very disrespectful to al-Kasasbeh and his loved ones.

It is true that video footage of murders can raise awareness and make people really get up and speak out, which is what the cell phone video capturing Eric Garner’s death did in New York last year. Millions of people saw what many police did not want them to see:  an excessive use of force that killed an innocent man. In the case of al-Kasasbeh, however, the video was shared by the culprits themselves to show that they are ruthless killers. This was their way of bragging that they are willing to do anything to take out the enemy.

By sharing this sadistic video, Fox News has effectively expanded the terror organization’s audience. Fox is also catering to sick individuals who take pleasure in snuff films and putting at risk many children who can easily gain access with just a few clicks. What if the video was of somebody being raped? Would that make its way to Fox News? Some events can be described in text, and we’ll still get the picture.