Video sparks debate and media coverage

    The prospect of screening the much publicized Nicholas Berg beheading in public UCSD spaces has pulled students, administrators and members of the media into a debate over free speech and the political weight of the footage.

    Thurgood Marshall College sophomore Ariel Mor’s plans to air the video repeatedly on Library Walk on May 25 drew enough media coverage to prompt him to cancel the event, and on May 26 Earl Warren College administrators told Warren junior Daniel Watts that showing the footage on Warren College Television would violate WCTV policy.

    The video, which major American news outlets refused to broadcast, shows the beheading of Berg, an American civilian, by masked men identified as al-Qaeda members.

    As shocking as the video is, the fact that the murder depicted was the actual death of a real human and not a Hollywood reenactment makes it a powerful political testimony to the state of affairs in Iraq.

    In this respect, the Berg video is a legitimate piece of information that Americans should be able to view in order to make their own decisions about larger themes of war, violence and free speech. Both Mor and Watts should be able to show the video in whatever legal venue they deem appropriate, especially on such a beacon of free expression as a university campus.

    However, much attention should be paid to their intentions. Mor’s screening was to be a self-proclaimed “pro-American” event, intended to rally the campus in support of U.S. soldiers in a fit of disgust and thirst for vengeance toward Berg’s murderers. It would have been cheap propaganda, attempting to generalize the conflict in Iraq.

    Watts, who now plans on airing his footage on Student Run Television on May 27, should use the video only as a means to promote open debate among students who choose to view it.

    The video contains brutal images, but ones worthy of discussion on a university campus.

    [Ed. note: Daniel Watts did not contribute to this editorial.]

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