Putting it into perspective

Maria Nann

Technology proponents fight the idea that video games or television shows increase children’s perception that violence in real life is OK. But what about the Internet?

A recent Fox News Report showed that Google, owner of the colossal, multinational Web site YouTube, has been under fire lately for airing what many are calling “terror videos.” The videos in question show American troops being fired at, tortured and killed by militant groups in combat in the Middle East. They are graphic. They are gruesome, and they are believed to have been posted by terrorists and anti-American groups in the Middle East, seeing as the logos on the videos trace back to al-Qaida media arms.

And Google is removing them from the Web site. Your browser may not support display of this image.

Well, almost.

After taking some heat from Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman, Google removed 80 videos but refused to remove any more. In the Fox News Report, Lieberman called this a “good start” but said it’s “not enough.”

Google is defending its position by saying the site promotes free speech and that by removing these videos it would be in direct polarity with its views.

Google posted its response to the matter on its Public Policy Blog: “We believe that YouTube is a richer and more relevant platform for users precisely because it hosts a diverse range of views, and rather than stifle debate we allow our users to view all acceptable content and make up their own minds.”

I have to ask: When did terrorist organizations become beneficiaries of free speech?

With all of the anti-war sentiments clinging in the air, it’s easy to understand people’s frustration with the United States’ current foreign policy. And with so many circumstances casting a shadow of negativity over our country, it isn’t difficult to see people fighting the forceful, invisible hand of the government to keep as many freedoms (and as much control over their own lives) as possible.

But when graphic executions and assassinations are just a click away, shouldn’t someone step up and – at the very least – ask, “What?”

It is at this point that these videos dangerously tread murky waters between freedom of speech and inappropriate indoctrination. Al-Qaida uses videos startlingly similar to the ones readily available on YouTube as means of recruitment and, horrifying as it is, training for followers and members. Your browser may not support display of this image.

Regardless of differing stances on the war on terror, Americans should be infuriated not only with these videos, but with the fact that they remain available online. They are unnecessary instigations of violence – blatant, outspoken acts against our military and our country.

These are men and women who daily lay their lives on the line for the safety and security of America and the rest of the world, whether we agree that they should be in the position to do so. It’s sad that there is such outspoken resentment (or a lack of passionate support) for them.

I wonder if Google CEO Eric Schmidt were to have a family member die in the war, would he have reacted to Lieberman’s protests any differently?

Maria Nann is a sophomore newspaper journalism major and a columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].