Hashtag: Violence Sells

Yesterday, Australia awoke to the news that a British soldier had been hacked to death on the streets of London.

It was a horrific act in itself, but what was just as disturbing was the footage that later emerged.

In the video, one of the suspects holds a knife and a machete. His hands are slicked with blood.

Seemingly calm and coherent, he shouts: “You people will never be safe. Remove your government. They don’t care about you!”

Local news website news.com.au was quick to tweet:

The major British television stations had already aired the footage.

Editors in newsrooms everywhere didn’t really have much of a choice but to keep up-to-date with their competitors.

But even so, it probably wasn’t wise to send out a tweet that said “Disturbing video … Watch it here”.

It’s kind of like saying: “This is really gross and unacceptable but we want you to watch it anyway because we care more about click-bait than basic human decency.”

Not surprisingly, many people slammed news.com.au and other outlets for putting the footage into the public


What was also interesting was the way in which some media outlets called the act “terrorism” sooner than others.

What exactly is terrorism?

Many people would say that an act of terrorism is any act of violence used to for political purposes. (But that would mean we would possibly have to apply the term to the American presence in Afghanistan, yes?)

This piece in The Guardian explores these ideas further.

For now, the papers have turned from front-page splashes of gore to giant headlines proclaiming “hero”.

In the wake of a very real tragedy, it all seems a bit hollow to me.

Broede Carmody


Photograph copyright ABC 2013

Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

Sign up for Catalyst Magazine

Get the latest on what's happening
* = required field