Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Humanity Burned At The Stake

Last night I did something that in the past I have always refused to do, I watched the latest ISIS video. Since this organization of psychopaths burst onto the scene they have been rather fond of executing hostages from a variety of countries in increasingly barbaric ways, then distributing video evidence for the world to see. These videos are dumped on the Internet and immediately go viral, winning them admiration from other psychopaths the world over, and serving as a recruiting tool. It has primarily been for this reason that I have never viewed one, not wanting to become part of the problem by participating in something so dehumanizing. But mostly I haven't watched one of these snuff videos because this isn't Hollywood, these are very real heads being chopped off of living breathing people. No thanks.

But there I was last night reading the story of the Jordanian pilot being burned alive. Something came over me, a dark curiosity mixed with disbelief that it could possibly be true. My finger hesitated over the play button for several seconds. Why was I so curious? Was it all just an overblown hoax fanned by the "let's fight another Middle East war" crowd? I pressed play.

A smartly dressed soldier in what looked like an actual military uniform, face covered in a tan mask, held a torch in his hand, then slowly lowered it to the ground where a narrow line of flame began to dance along the ground, all the while music blared in the background. As the camera pans out we see the bars of a cage, then a man in an orange jumpsuit standing bravely at attention as the fire races toward him. When the flames reach him he lifts his hands to his face and begins to jog in place. At this point it looks no different than a thousand scenes from movies of people on fire. But soon the horrifying reality hits you with a knockout punch as you hear the man screaming. At this point the video-makers go for production value as they pan in with multiple cameras, the music getting louder.
Suddenly there's a closeup of the man's face as he drops to his knees, layers of skin peeling off and
falling to the ground. His face then begins to melt as his now stiff body rocks onto his back, cameras deftly catching the event from several angles. I stopped the video before it ended, having seen way too much.

Yes, practically every civilization on earth has at some point burned people alive as punishment. Joan of Arc perhaps the most famous example. But it's worth noting that Joan of Arc was burned at the stake 600 years ago. Generally speaking, the civilized world doesn't do this sort of thing anymore. An argument can be made that modern man does other equally barbaric things to each other. Killing someone via drone strike from 30,000 feet is no less lethal than being burned alive I suppose. But to actually see such a thing, to hear the triumphant music playing, to watch the celebratory posturing of the ISIS thugs, the raging bloodlust, is to be reminded of mankind's talent for cruelty.