September 8, 2006

Who would watch the video of the stingray killing Steve Irwin?

Here's a serious discussion -- on BBC.com -- of whether the video should be shown. I think the answer is so obviously no that it seems lurid even to raise the subject. I realize that would make this post itself lurid, and I confess to trying to create a mental picture the incident I've read about. That picture is lurid.

Anyway, two medical ethicists examine the topic. Anna Smajdor concludes:
Irwin spent much of his life bringing to a wider public a vision of "nature red in tooth and claw", no fluffy bunnies or cute kittens here. His programmes were not for the squeamish, but portrayed wild animals capable of killing a man.

The footage of Irwin's death is his ultimate message to us of the ruthlessness and power that we admire and fear in nature.
Daniel Sokol disagrees, even though Irwin himself once said, "If I'm going to die, at least I want it filmed."
Should you, the viewer, watch the footage?

The answer depends on your motives. Are you a marine biologist or ethologist (someone who studies animal behaviour) eager to understand the defensive behaviour of a frightened stingray? Are you a cardiologist or toxicologist interested in aspects of the injury itself?

Before watching the footage, we should ask ourselves: why do I want to watch this? I suspect many people would answer "for entertainment" or "out of curiosity"

It may well harm the watcher, whose humanity and moral sensibility will suffer.
And remember, you can't unwatch it. Once the real image is in your head -- replacing the fuzzy visualization you have now -- it will always be there. Maybe you've yielded and watched some gruesome video on the web -- perhaps a beheading. I haven't, partly because I've never gotten over what I was raised to believe, that it is wrong to go looking out of curiosity, but also because I want to protect myself from the lingering image.

I should add that I've changed my view about averting your eyes from something you're seeing that you haven't sought out. I greatly admire people -- like doctors and nurses -- who have work to do and deal with what they need to see to do it. And I think squeamishness is a childish character flaw that should be overcome.

54 comments:

Adam said...

I was home from school the day the day that Philadelphia news stations showed, live, the state's treasurer pulling out a .357 magnum and killing himself on television. Wiki, noting "Due to a major snowstorm throughout Pennsylvania that day, many home-bound school-aged children witnessed the suicide on television." You tend to remember things like that.

There is no legitimate purpose to showing this video. It debases us all.

David said...

I would avert my eyes if given the choice. Voluntarily observing the traumatic death of someone takes away the dignity of the very private act.

Having witnessed far to many traumatic deaths in my time, I prefer to look up to the heavens until the deed is done. Otherwise, one is forever haunted by the last image!

quietnorth said...

Doesn't it depend on what we need to overcome? Most of us need to overcome the secret pleasure the reptilian part of our brains get when we watch gory accidents. On the other hand, we probably do need to overcome the fastidiousness we have about not seeing the actual violence and messiness we pay for, but don't see.... for example, we should all see animals being killed for food, and have to tour sewage treatment plants.

The Drill SGT said...

There is absolutely nothing but feeding prurient voyeurism in people.

That film has no redeeming social value.

What is next? Snuff films on pay per view?

Gladiators against animals (at least at first?)

stephenb said...

It may well harm the watcher, whose humanity and moral sensibility will suffer.

If there's anything I hate, it's being saved from myself.

I agree that the film shouldn't be made available to the public. A decent respect to Irwin's family requires it. What I don't agree with is a medical ethicist telling me I shouldn't watch it because my humanity will suffer.

StrangerInTheseParts said...

Seems to me Sokol frames it right: the issue is whether or not someone should CHOOSE to watch it.

Therefore, it should not be broadcast on TV as people may happen upon it inadvertantly or be forced unwittingly to see it.

It should be available on the web or for rent, etc.

George said...

Had poor Mr. Irwin hailed from Upper East Tennessee, worn overalls and a gimme cap, and spoke in a harsh Appalachian accent saying things like, "Got-dang, that thar's a mite' big rat'ler. I'm a fixin' to pick up that ol' boy..." most Americans, especially our intelligensia, would have regarded him as some sub-human Johnny Knoxville geek.

However, because he was from Australia, had a cute accent, wore cute khakis, and was never without a snappy remark, we watched.

We should all be "squeamish" about watching travesties of humanity. Good judgment, decency, morality, and common sense should deter us all from participating in and watching bear baiting, dog fighting, cock fighting, and, yes, poor telefamecrazed souls who get their jollies playing with dangerous animals.

Being "squeamish" is part of what makes us civilized.

SteveR said...

I'll admit to a somewhat childish "Three Stooges type" fascination with people doing stupid things like trying to skateboard on a wall and falling off. This does not appeal to me in any way. As with the beheading videos, if available, I won't watch.

Doyle said...

I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to see the video footage.

I think it's different from a snuff film in significant ways.

How can you be so awed by the barb-removal and not want to see it firsthand?

Dave said...

I think Smajdor makes an interesting point. There is a perhaps-apocryphal story about a bunch of kids from New York City who go to a farm and come upon a group of feral pigs.

One of the kids, thinking the pigs look like dogs or some other domesticated animal kicks at the pigs, whereupon the kid's foot is bitten off.

As I say, probably apocryphal. But its larger point--we have become largely inured to the caprice and danger of nature and its beings--is a salient one.

The Drill SGT said...

Quietnorth said...
On the other hand, we probably do need to overcome the fastidiousness we have about not seeing the actual violence and messiness we pay for, but don't see.... for example, we should all see animals being killed for food, and have to tour sewage treatment plants.


at the risk of inciting moonbats, that also goes for Congressmen and Presidents who need to visit Walter Reed and an occasional funeral. (not all of them, or with network news making it a humility event), but for the simple personal education. Same for the politico's with State or Defense appt's. Maybe judges need to go to a few cop funerals. I'll give a pass to generals and senior FBI types, I know they have been to plenty of funerals in their 20+ years.

actions have consequences.

That doesn't mean I like pictures of caskets at Dover out on the www. That is either prurient or political.

Joseph Hovsep said...

I remember when the video of the Berg beheading was floating around the internet with snippets played on TV for weeks. I thought about why people would want to watch it, whether I wanted to watch it, and how the image would affect me later if I did watch it. The inability to "unwatch" it was ultimately the most powerful reason for me not to watch it. I'm glad I didn't. The grewsome details I read about the video still linger with me in a way that makes me want to be able to "unread" them and I can't imagine having the actual images accompanying those details in my memory.

Two things occur to me.

First, I don't want to watch Steve Irwin's death any more than Nick Berg's or anyone else's violent death. But Irwin is a very different case from the perspective of whether it could be appropriate to show since Irwin's popularity and career were basically built on tempting and provoking dangerous wild animals.

Second, how different is the desire to watch these kinds of images from the desire to watch the World Trade Center attacks? In the weeks (months?) after 9/11 I discovered a morbid curiousity in myself watching and rewatching that horror, both voluntarily and involuntarily, and I think a lot of people did the same thing. The WTC attack caused a lot more death and suffering. Is it worse to watch an individual death? It seems to me that the two curiosities stem from a similar place and, however natural they are, I don't like either of them.

The Drill SGT said...

Joseph Hovsep said...

Second, how different is the desire to watch these kinds of images from the desire to watch the World Trade Center attacks?


For me watching the WTC atrocity is different. I don't want to forget. I think we all need to remember what happened that day, who did it and what they stand for.

I respect those that don't want to see those images, but I try not to let them forget that happened.

Goesh said...

-crocs would for having their tails pulled by him and for sitting on them and taunting them with food and refusing to hand over that plump infant held so close to their jaws but never given over for a delicious snack....

Pogo said...

Re: " What I don't agree with is a medical ethicist telling me I shouldn't watch it because my humanity will suffer."

How about recommendations by religious types against engaging in or watching material that is of merely prurient interest (and therefore debasing)? Is it the proscription or the proscriber you denounce?

I have to ask: is there no level of decency below which one should not sink? Do you find any behavior so degrading enough in itself that you would advise your family or friends against it?

If so, what is your basis for so doing? If not, how can you expect any moral standards at all? What would prohibit necrophilia, pederasty, bestiality, snuff films, murder, theft, and the like, except for reasons of 'personal taste'?

Does any behavior -passive or active- make one's humanity suffer?

Jack Wayne said...

Most of these comments are revelatory of the feminization of the world.

SWBarns said...

Call me Jimmy Stewart in a Jack Wayne world but there is nothing 'manly' about tolerance to watching people die.

Ryan Hatch said...

Call me morbid, but I would watch it in a heartbeat, excuse the pun.

Christy said...

Everyone has watched and cheered as Irwin behaved in irresponsible ways around dangerous animals. I think it right and fitting that the rest of the story be broadcast. Sure it was a freak accident, but he placed himself in a situation where accidents do happen. Consequences. Try as we like, we cannot avoid them.

I speak with the frustration of someone whose brother thinks he's a cowboy and has been known to regularly wrestle with a wild wolf trying to tame him, has been concussed by a kick from an elk, tried to herd buffalo, and ridden an ostrich which resulted in a nasty bite.

I won't watch, but, yes, I do think it should be broadcast.

The Drill SGT said...

I've watched my friends die.
I've watched people I've shot die.

Neither is pleasant.

sometimes you need to see ugly things, but it's not enjoyable, just necessary.

I'm with SWbarns on the manliness of it. This particular film doesn't have redeeming value for me.

MadisonMan said...

at the risk of inciting moonbats, that also goes for Congressmen and Presidents who need to visit Walter Reed and an occasional funeral.

Yes. We all need to emulate Jack Murtha. (Does this make me a moonbat?)

When I volunteered in the ER at Methodist Hospital way back when here in Madison, one night a man died (cardiac arrest) and after the medical staff left the room, I was in there to pick things up. I felt like an incredible intruder just being in the same room as the dead man lying on the gurney. I'd feel the same way watching Steve Irwin's death.

altoids1306 said...

I think given the nature of digital information, almost all information will eventually leak out - as to the question of should you watch it, I personally don't see a problem.

Maybe because I'm a desensitized child of the 90's, there is almost nothing on TV that has any emotional impact to me. I'd even say that because it was real, that there is more value in watching it. I don't think there is anything wrong with coming to grips with the ugly nature of reality (the ugly reality of nature?).

There are plenty of good reasons not to show it on TV (kids and such), but there's no reason to shield adults from reality. Maybe this is a happy byproduct of a nation which has experienced no war on the mainland in a century, but being afraid to watch someone die from a stingray attack is a little absurd. Perhaps this is why civil defence in the US is so dismal - people are too afraid to even think of what to do in a hurricane, earthquake, or nuclear explosion. "I'll be dead" isn't a solution: what if you survive? And you probably will, at least for a few days.

Anyways, I haven't watched it yet, because, well, I don't care enough to spend the energy to find and click on it - but if I do come across it, I'll probably watch it.

The Drill SGT said...

MadisonMan said...

Yes. We all need to emulate Jack Murtha. (Does this make me a moonbat?)


with some caveats, no, that statement is not moonbatish. I was thinking about Murtha's WR visits when I wrote that. I think he's very wrong on Iraq now and very wrong to make statements about those Marines, but his visits to WR are the right stuff. I expect that if Pelosi went, she'd make sure that there was a press release in advance.

Murtha just goes and walks the halls. regularly. good Job!

SWBarns said...

Thanks SGT, Ann’s squeamishness looks a lot like innocence to me. Kurosawa’s "If you shut your eyes to a frightening sight, you end up being frightened" may be a reasonable position after an earthquake or during wartime but seeking out a “frightening sight” for purience just seems ghoulish to me.

I have no interest in watching someone beheaded or hitting the street after a 100 storey fall, the fortitude shown by doctors, nurses and drill sargents isn’t gained by watching a video tape.

Pogo said...

Re: "Maybe because I'm a desensitized child of the 90's, there is almost nothing on TV that has any emotional impact to me."

The absence of empathy isn't a praiseworthy goal.

Jeremy said...

The inability to unwatch things is precisely the same reason that I can't watch pornos or slasher flicks. No redeeming value and a lingering image that I can't wash away.

One question, for those that say this shouldn't be shown. Fundamentally, what's the relevant difference between this and say, Saw or Hostel or any other gross-out gore movie? One's real, the other's not. Is that even relevant?

Icepick said...

Joseph Hovsep wrote: Second, how different is the desire to watch these kinds of images from the desire to watch the World Trade Center attacks?

Consider the recorded images of the Hindenberg going down in flames. Thirty-six people died in that accident, but the footage gets shown over and over again, sometimes as part of a joke.

Or consider any of numerous images from WWII, especially images of Japanese Kamikazee attacking Allied ships. Every impact represents at least one death, and frequently many more, yet these get shown over and over again.

One thing that sets these examples apart from the footage of Irwin's death is that these images don't show an individual dying up close. Distance removes itimacy from the subject.

But still, there's more to it than that. I can think of three images from the Twentieth Century that capture the immediacy and intimacy of the moment of an individual's death, and one that captures an almost equally horrific moment. All three images have been widely shown, years after they lost relevancy to current events.

But we all know the images of Federico Borrell's death in combat even if we don't know his name. I don't even need to provide a link for Zapruder's film, since even those of us born years after the event have seen it repeatedly. The image of Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Viet Cong captain named Bay Lop changed the fate of nations, even though the context wasn't known at the time. And Phan Thị Kim Phúc has been seen naked, and terrified, by hundreds of millions of people, I suspect.

So why are these images acceptable, but Irwin's death scene would damage our humanity and moral sensibility? Perhaps if we just wait 34, or 38, or 43, or 70 years we can watch Irwin die without damaging our souls too much.

Goesh said...

If the House can vote to ban the killing of horses for human consumption, surely they can vote to ban the video of a jackass being killed by a stingray.
Macho Man Goesh

tiggeril said...

I thought people quit being squeamish after they had kids, what with the... material spewing from both ends of the critters.

lucas m. said...

I remember that I was working in the ED one day, with a younger nurse (Or maybe a student, I can't remember) and a call came in over 'the patch' (which is the radio that EMS uses to call the ED before they arrive) Apparantly Phoenix Fire was in bound with a full code (Life support in progress, Patient in full cardiopulmonary arrest). The Patient was a 16 year old female with a self inflicted gunshotwound to the head.
My student was really interested in going into the Trauma Room and seeing it, but I cautioned against it. She asked me why, to which I replied, "Somethings just don't leave your head, ever. you don't want to expose yourself to that if you don't need to. I won't stop you, but I strongly reccomend that you don't go in on it." She grumbled, but complied. When the patient arrived, we were at the end of a long hall and saw her wheeled into the trauma room. From our distance, all we could see were the paramedics doing CPR and venilating her.
While death is a part of my job a is critical care nurse, it is not something that one is exposed to without consequences. I am only 25, but I see enough in my line of work to not to need to see it anywhere else.
I like the image of Irwin in my head saying "Crikey! Look at im, 'E's a big one"...I want that to be my last image of Irwin, and therefore, I personbally will not watch it even if it becomes avalible.

Mark said...

I think the distinction to be made between videos of deaths that are worth watching and those that are not is whether or not important emotional information is conveyed or not. What qualifies as "important" will depend on a person's point of view I suppose.

For instance, in the film "Grizzly Man", Timothy Treadwell gets eaten by a bear. We never hear the audio tape of him and his girlfriend being eaten. Personally I felt that was important information left out of the film that would have given a real emotional counterbalance to all the scenes of Treadwell coexisting peacefully with the animals. In my opinion, it is important that we viscerally understand the dangers of wild animals, including the danger of being eaten alive by grizzlies or stabbed in the heart by stingrays.

Some argued that it was important to watch at least one of the Islamic beheading videos because it exposed the danger posed by these people in a vividly real way that simply isn't possible with words alone.

On the other hand, there's no virtue in deadening your emotional responses by watching gore for the sake of gore. I think watching these kind of violent acts is only appropriate when there is a need to arouse ourselves to a vivid awareness of the dangers or realities of a situation. Sure, Treadwell and Irwin always told people not to try what they were doing themselves. But those were just words, while the visual images, with their much greater emotional impact, suggested it was possible to safely get up close and personal with wild animals. It seems appropriate that their violent deaths by wild animals also be widely viewed so that the dangerous reality of close encounters with wild animals is understood.

knoxgirl said...

Some argued that it was important to watch at least one of the Islamic beheading videos because it exposed the danger posed by these people in a vividly real way that simply isn't possible with words alone.

I agree with this to some extent. I haven't watched the beheading because I am already quite alarmed at the threat we face from such people, and don't need the video to convince me. But I do think it might be instructive for people who take a more, say, breezy viewpoint of the terrorists: "Bush is the enemy" "It's a law-enforcement issue" etc.

Jeremy said...

Mark-
With Irwin's death, do you think it would change the calculation if he had been eaten by a crocodile? As it is, death by sting ray is a complete freak accident. That is to say, is Treadwell's death is a message of "Don't feed the bears" but Irwin's is "Don't play with sting rays, even though they're actually pretty harmless"?

monkeyboy said...

I think that the comments about not being able to "unwatch" the event are critical. I've many a sight in my memory that I wish were not there, and many that I experienced specificaly so I wouldn't forget them.

I prefer to remember Steve Irwin in life rather than in death. a man who risked his life to preserve unpopular animals form death out of love, and did so much more for his environment than all those small people who snipe from the sidelines in safety.

No I won't watch it.

monkeyboy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
altoids1306 said...

Re: Pogo:

It's not about empathy, it's about being suseptable to media manipulation. I've got plenty of empathy for what I see with my own eyes, and for what doesn't involve voiceovers or dramatic soundtracks.

Should there be a moral difference between witnessing something and watching the video? Logically, no. But between the TV commercials for restless-leg-syndrome and the context-sensitive Amazon ads, the mind erects barriers of unreality.

This is not to say I'm amoral (and I feel no need to defend my morality). I just don't think "I feel your pain" has any value to televised subject who is unaware of your existence.

Perhaps it's not praiseworthy, but I'll say it again - there is almost nothing on TV (or any video image) that has any emotional impact on me. And I don't think I'm a special case either.

Tibore said...

Oddly enough, if I had the opportunity I'd watch it. But not for stupid kicks ("Hey! Let's see this guy kick the bucket!"); that'd be stupid, horrendous even. It'd be turning the event into nonsexual death porn.

I'd want to watch because, as a guy who's experience with wildlife isn't that broad, and mostly limited to inland animals, I'd want to see what a stingray can do, and observe it acting in defense. Knowledge, especially in relation to danger and life-and-death is not wasted. No, I don't see myself diving with the stingrays anytime soon; what I'm trying to say is that observing wildlife taking care of itself in general is useful information. Especially to those of us who don't get a whole lot of experience with it. We're all so disconnected from how wild animals react that we don't know how to behave when in close proximity to them.

And I may not be planning to dive with stingrays anytime at all, but you never know. Last spring, I didn't expect to go snorkling around a reef near Surigao del Sur in the Philippines - it was a last minute, "Hey! Since we're here, we should do this!" thing - but I went, totally not expecting to do anything of the sort.

So, I'd want to watch that video of Irwin, personally. But I'd hope that there'd be a difference between watching for kicks, as if we're watching one of those stupid college-girl webcam things we always get spammed about, or watching it respectfully. What you bring to the act of watching is what makes the difference between making that act a decent or depraved one.

I do admit, I'm completely willing to subside my desire to watch it to protect the privacy and sensibilities of Irwin's family. If they want to keep it out of the public, that's not a problem at all. It's completely their call. I'd only feel comfortable about watching it if the family gave their blessing. Otherwise, no.

Pogo said...

Re: "I've got plenty of empathy for what I see with my own eyes..."

So you say. I disagree. Anyone that can become inured to video violence enough to say "there is almost nothing on TV (or any video image) that has any emotional impact on me" can become inured to actual violence in front of them.

It just takes a little practice. Just ask the folks who ran the gulag how well densitization worked. I've seen enough violence in the ER knife & gun club and in movies to make that somewhat true in me. And I strongly suspect the proxy version (by video) is not going to prove edifying for the human race.

"And I don't think I'm a special case either."
That's my fear.
Empathy's a fragile thing, and increasingly rare, I think.

Pogo said...

"desensitzation"

Jennifer said...

I wouldn't watch this or any of the other videos mentioned, out of respect for the people involved. It bothers me greatly to think that if I suffered a public death, people would watch it and be titillated.

What else would you watch? Would you watch a video of a rape? Would you watch a video of a child being abused? You know, just to prove you're a man. Or to overcome your fastidiousness. Or to learn some lesson.

BTW, anyone who has watched the episode (or the video available online) of Steve Irwin bawling over Mary the crocodile who he "loved like he loved his own wife" would have trouble with these ridiculous statements about why he did what he did for a living and how he treated animals.

Jim said...

Ann, if you can't stand gruesome, then you certainly wouldn't have attended the crucifixion of Jesus, even to give him water, I suppose. He must be turning in his grave over the thought of such abandonment.

What sets lawyers apart from scientists, besides brilliance, is curiosity. Ann, curiosity is good! It is the basis of much discovery.

You would make a Leonardo da Vinci who draws anatomy from imagination.

Folks who don't like looking at things like dead bodies, slaughterhouses, circumcisions, anal sex, childbirth, decapitations, crucifixions and the like might try just turning their heads, leaving the rest of us alone to participate in life!

altoids1306 said...

Re: Pogo:

Certainly, I could become desensitized to actual violence. But since I could possibly do or become...basically anything, that's not much of an argument.

The difference between TV and real life is that violence in real life occurs with far lower frequency. People in gulags get desensitized, because of - guess what - higher frequency of violence!

And, in case the point was lost earlier, does "TV empathy" have value? If empathy is to reassure the subject that his/her feelings are understood, does it matter at all if I empathize with a televised subject who cannot possibly know whether I am watching him/her, much less empathising with him/her?

I haven't seen much, but I have seen death and blood (once). There is a big difference between seeing an image created by glowing phosphors and an actual human. Between sound created by paper cones and vocal cords. The sickly warm slickness of blood. In an age of digitized simulation, physical reality becomes more precious. Without desensitization to TV, how could I have enough energy to empathize with reality? (And I don't even watch much TV - ESPN and Food Network, mostly.)

Pogo said...

Re: "But since I could possibly do or become...basically anything, that's not much of an argument."

So you argue. I beg to differ.

I suggest that text and images can be very effective in changing minds. Perhaps you are different than most people in being immune to the recognized efficacy of propaganda.

There are studies to the effect that young people are becoming inured to violence, but I don't think that will sway you.

El Mas Chingón said...

I'm already exposed to the risk of seeing something gruesome every time I watch an auto race live on television. I don't look for things like that to happen, but I accept the fact that it can happen at anytime. That's the nature of the sport.

A good example is the Ayrton Senna accident at Imola in 1994. At the time, he was my favorite driver. I saw the accident on TV and although I knew what the final outcome was going to be, I couldn't turn away.

But would I go out of my way to see the Irwin death video? No.

Ann Althouse said...

Jim said..."Jesus... must be turning in his grave over the thought of such abandonment."

Jesus, in his grave?

Well, you read everything else wrong, so I'm not surprised at this.

Revenant said...

Who would watch the video of the stingray killing Steve Irwin?

I wouldn't. But since Irwin himself was fine with his death being filmed and shown, I don't have any moral or ethical problem with it being done.

But I don't want to watch the man die. I liked him, and his death is a sad thing for me.

amba said...

Another take on this. I never wanted to see a beheading, either. And yet I could not stop imagining the last moments of Nicole Simpson -- with the white dog howling -- and could not understand how, even months later, people could sit calmly in a courtroom and discuss it. The end of a life! It's an enormous thing.

Joseph Hovsep said...

Jim, I'm inclined to think you are somehow trying to be sarcastic, but I don't get it.

amba said...

Jack Wayne, you're full of s**t (unless you're kidding). Feminized the world may be, but "real men don't flinch from gore" is a caricature of the solution.

amba said...

tiggeril: not to mention watching them get born. Talk about the feminization of the world, remember the debate about whether men ought to compelled to witness childbirth? I read about it right here. (God, I love Google.)

illc0mm said...

I think squeamishness is a childish character flaw that should be overcome.

Ann, I agree with your comment about squeamishness, however I think the family should have the ultimate decision of whether or not that footage should be released.

Deep down I think that Steve would want it to be shown, however who knows to what extent or venue. I don't think that it should be something accessible to children, meaning not to show on normal TV. Perhaps in a DVD highlighting his life, a tribute if you will.

altoids1306 said...

Re: So you say. I disagree.

Re: So you argue. I beg to differ.

Re: There are studies to the effect that young people are becoming inured to violence, but I don't think that will sway you.

I could write a third post, but since you refuse to engage my arguments in any meaningful way, I don't think any additional words will sway you.

Revenant said...

There are studies to the effect that young people are becoming inured to violence, but I don't think that will sway you.

There are psychological studies showing anything you'd care to claim; most psychologists are pseudoscientists, after all.

But the fact that we've yet to see any noticeable effect on either violent crime rates or public acceptance of violent acts, despite the last few decades being chock full of allegedly "desensitizing" violent stimuli, indicates that, studies notwithstanding, real-world children aren't getting desensitized to real-world violence.

Steve H. said...

Steve Irwin was the Atlas Shrugs of naturalists. He made his living with sensational video featuring foolish risk-taking and brushes with death. Running the video of his death would be silly and crass, but it would also be completely consistent with his longstanding policy of buying viewers with cheap thrills.