Internet exposes Iraq war

By Jason Radka
October 27, 2006

Videos containing attacks on American soldiers in Iraq have been spreading beyond the battle field and into the homes of people world wide. The internet is the medium in which uncensored war material can be accessed by people that can get on the web. Popular websites such as YouTube and Google Video grant freedom to the common person in regards to the content they wish to upload. This growing issue is beginning to test the ethics of what should be seen and not seen over the internet.

In 2005, chief executive officer Charlie Hurley at YouTube addresses in ease the material that is uploaded to the internet according to YouTube.

“The explosion in consumer devices with video and in broadband connections is giving users control over the videos they watch and share, and YouTube is dedicated to making their experience as easy and relevant as possible.” YouTube covers Hurley’s statement in their terms of use page on their website.

With regards to the ethical views on violence in Iraq on the internet, Harvey Lape, professor of philosophy at Cabrini has different view that some students might not have thought about.

“The main moral point is the issue of respect for the victims of violence,” Lape said. “That is, we normally try to avoid presenting images of people actually being shot or stabbed or those that show them dying. So the media can be faulted for that- not respecting victims of violence. The victims that are now U.S. soldiers doesn’t make it morally worse, only sadder for their families and for of us who sent them to Iraq,” Lape said.

Some college students respect the integrity and non-censorship that YouTube and Google Video live by. Footage of Americans getting sniped or bombed by Iraq insurgents can be found in excess with typing “Iraq” in YouTube’s search engine. Angela Peso, senior political science and philosophy major stands tall with media sharing. “I think material should absolutely be allowed on this websites,” Peso said. “First of all, that right is protected under the first amendment of the constitution. There are not any laws nor will there ever be any law protecting people from something because it might hurt their feelings.” In regards to having choice of viewing the material, “If they can see it in a video game or in Hollywood, they should have access to the real thing. Simply, if you don’t want to watch it, don’t watch it,” Peso said.

Although some people support the media coverage on popular websites, many people do not. “Do I think it’s right? No. But there’s always something done to control it,” Charles Grugan, senior graphics design major said. “I think the information age has its drawbacks, and I think there are some things that just don’t need to be seen by everyone,” Grugan said.

In addition to YouTube, Google video is becoming a popular form of media entertainment, including war footage. In Google video terms of use, “Google and its licensors expressly disclaim to the fullest extent permitted by all law express, implied and statutory warranties including without limitation.” YouTube also has a similar disclaimer about their website and what can or can not be uploaded. Although each website controls what is uploaded, YouTube and Google clearly state that they can do nothing to the material because there is no law(s) that have a have been violated.

Some students fear that the relative ease of viewing horrific scenes of gore on the internet could raise problems by belittling other significances in the world. “As with most forms of media, I think that the material put on this website should be censored,” Jillian Milam, senior English and communication major said. “By enabling the public to view war and death, we are running a high risk of desensitizing society to significant issues, such as the economy and taxes,” Milam said.

YouTube and Google Video express their videos “as-is,” and people take whatever angle they wish on what they say. Some people take an American getting shot or blown up as entertainment. Megan Farrell, senior English communication major is disgusted with what is shown on the internet. “It’s a shame people find that amusing and want to speak it all over the internet,” Farrell said. “I just do not think it’s ethical.”

It is up in the air about what is ethical and not ethical in the showing of American soldiers in Iraq. Students feel it is meant to be seen and some feel it should not be. However, YouTube and Google do not express opinions on the matter. However, they stand by the integrity to the website. Hurley recapped in his 2005 press speech, “YouTube is a community motivated to watch and share videos because they can experience real life through the eyes of people like themselves, not only through the lens of traditional television.”

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Jason Radka

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