It usually goes like this:
“YO dude! Here’s that video everyone’s talking about. You know, the beheading video? It’s so awful! I just saw it, and I feel soooo bad now!”
“Here’s the link!”
When I first heard of what happened, and read articles describing Nick Berg’s murder, I felt sick, as if I had been punched in the gut. The first day, I thought about it up to the time I went to bed, and it was back in my mind when I woke up in the morning. I walked around for days wishing that awful feeling of dread would go away. And I decided that I wouldn’t be seeing that video. Not a chance.
Now, a week later, it still seems like every idiot with a screen name is sending me links to the video, as if they think the problem is that the rest of us just don’t know where to find it. Even at work, my boss had it up on his screen, beckoning me to come over and watch.
(Even worse than the gawkers are the ones who feel we all needto see the video, hoping that we’ll add our outrage to the echo chamber in their favor. People on both sides of the political spectrum are showing the video to schoolchildren, with one saying “This is the enemy we’re up against” and the other saying “That’s why we shouldn’t be at war.” Others, still, are just engaging in mindless and meaningless chest-thumpingwith no discernible point to make. But anyway, back to my coworkers, friends and AIM buddies.)
I live in West Chester, Pennsylvania, Nick Berg’s hometown. He was 26, and I’m 25. I’ve been here for eight years. The Bergs’ house is two minutes away. And as I saw the pictures of anguished family members clinging to each other on the front lawn, I couldn’t help but wonder how many times I’d crossed paths with their son while walking downtown, or stood next to him in line at ACME, or cut him off in traffic to beat that light at High Street and Gay.
Even in suburbia, where the neighbors never really talk to each other unless there’s a fire or an accident scene, I feel touched by this tragedy more than any other event that occurred in Iraq over the past year and a half.
This probably won’t make one whit of a difference to the thoughtless sheep who feel like everyone should see what they saw, but I’ll say it anyway: If you want to see someone murdered, screaming as their head is cut off, then fine. But don’t make the mistake of assuming the rest of us want to share in your voyeuristic depravity.