I opened my newspaper this morning to graphic images from a filmed stoning to death of a couple accused of adultery. The film has been making the rounds of the major news outlets, perhaps because, as the Toronto Star notes, the stoning is “the first to be documented on film since the Taliban were ousted from power.” A warning is in order before you click the link; the video is unsparing in its detail, and very difficult to watch. I opted for a news outlet that at least keeps the video paused unless the viewer clicks to launch it. Some news sites (such as the Telegraph) immediately launch the video upon arrival.
I hesitate to even post this. The sight of these images tears at the soul. But as it happens, today was my annual class in which I explained to students that I was providing a non-required screening of a documentary on torture for their viewing, because I didn’t want our discussion of torture as a moral issue to be an entirely abstract or hypothetical discussion. We should employ our abstractions and hypotheticals, yes, but I was adamant that we must also attend to the fact that torture happens to embodied individuals.
Perhaps I’ve seen too much cruelty today. Perhaps I’m completely wrong that one must at least look. Perhaps I’m just tired. Readers are welcome to criticize (as constructively as you can, please) my decision to post this. I felt all day that in a way I wish I had never seen the still photos in the paper. Then I went and gave that presentation to my kids. Am I full of it?