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What's The Harm? (Kenyan Edition) PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Brandon K. Thorp   

(Editor's Warning: The video linked to below is extremely graphic, violent, and disturbing. Do not view if you don't want your day ruined. You need not view it to understand the accompanying article.)

Posted below is a video of a "witch" burning in the Kisii district of western Kenya, in a village called Nyamatoro. It is a two-minute excerpt from a 45-minute piece of footage, apparently shot by a Kenyan freelance journalist named Johnny. If you like, you may visit Johnny's webpage here, though it won't provide any fresh insight into the horrors captured by his camera. In his brief discussion of the video, Johnny's language is studiedly neutral. This is understandable. As you shall see, Johnny has temperamental neighbors.

On his website, Johnny writes mostly about his wish to receive journalistic commissions from news agencies abroad. That, too, is understandable. Any man who witnesses five acquaintances beaten and burned to death by sixty or so of his other acquaintances has every right to a little wanderlust, at the very least.

Perhaps to alert the world to sub-Saharan Africa's latest outbreak of stone-age barbarism, or perhaps to further his career, Johnny is selling the full 45-minute version of his video to any news outlet that will have it. As far as I can tell, no one's buying. Not the BBC, not Fox, not NBC, not CNN. The closest Africa's new witch craze has come to serious media exposure was in November of last year, when The New York Times ran a story about that unlucky continent's "witch children" -- toddlers, tykes, and ‘tweens who are beaten and kicked out of their homes for practicing sorcery. The story found a bit of traction in a few other outlets, but not much. When such items did appear, they were usually accompanied by pictures of the children taken long after the fact, smiling in new group homes set up by friendly foreign NGOs, or at the very worst looking cutely solemn as they pondered their new lives of ostracism and fear. There was something unavoidably distant about it; something very "We Are The World."

There is nothing distant about this.

 

 

burning

 

(Editor's Note:

One last warning.

This is a graphic video

of people being forcibly burned alive.)

 

 

 

Kind of resists commentary, doesn't it?

Perhaps that's why Africa's new witch craze has been so poorly covered by the western media. In a rare moment of trend-bucking, Breitbart ran an in-depth story about another Kenyan "witch" burning that took place in May of this year and took the lives of 15 human beings, all women. (This episode also garnered a few moments on ABC and the Beeb, but neither organization thought the matter warranted fresh reportage.) Breitbart's dispatch reads like news from another world. How does one make sense of a sentence like this one, from pastor Enoch Obiero: "I can't believe my wife of many years would be killed so brutally by people who cannot prove their case even before God." Or this, from Emily Monari: "My mother has always been a role model to the entire village and why the mob had to kill her will remain a mystery to me forever." How reasonable they sound in the wake of such an unreasonable event, and how poorly suited is ordinary English to express the truth of it. Perhaps Rachel Maddow and Wolf Blitzer have remained silent because they don't know what to say.

I certainly don't, and neither does anyone else at the JREF. We sat on this video for months before deciding to publish it. We do so now in answer to a South African newspaper called The Sunday News, the courageous staff of which has decided that they, at least, are done with silence. They have decided to speak out against the African "witchcraft" outrage, and last week they did so. Here are some excerpts from their report, written by a minister named Paul Damasane. Pardon the poor English.

The main reason one would hazard to explain could be the background of our Western missionary upbringing. It is important to begin there because my angle will of necessity be to disabuse our minds of the fact that this is a purely African mysticism that is shrouded in mystery and so-called superstition. Let me not leave you guessing for now whether witchcraft exists or not. The answer is in the affirmative WITCHCRAFT IS FOR REAL, WITCHES ARE AS REAL AS THE BACK OF YOUR HAND. Be not fooled that I have just realised this, no I have known it all my short life [...]

[...] I write not because of mere speculation but because I have met and spoken to people who have been victims of wizardry. A long distance truck driver assured his wife of his fidelity and demanded the same of his wife. They had then shared some portion as a protective measure. The wife because of hunger defaulted and all hell broke loose. Not with the woman but with the intruding male. When he got back to his spouse and tried to lie with her a snake would just appear from under the bed and molest him. Sadly the snake was only visibly to the man. In some place I was shown a man who had abused and raped a woman after the use of certain medicines by the woman the man was found bleeding at his private parts after he had cut them off himself. He lives to bear testimony that rape is evil. [...]

[...] Let me close by assuring you that in as much as this is part of our culture it is that part that we would like to destroy and not promote. That is why we as Christians exorcise these spirits and of late many of these spirits have been threatening the lives of little children and women giving birth - this is an attempt by evil forces at aborting the eternal plan of God in making mankind overcome and have dominion over the earth. We will continue next week as we look at some spiritual principles and views from different religious backgrounds on the subject of witchcraft. Do send in your views on the same. Stay far from the influence of this evil in the coming week - Jesus protect you!

Rev. Damasane's point of view is shared by many, including those whose own grim histories should teach them better.

Can they be blamed? Perhaps they can, perhaps they can't. I find it more difficult to be angry with Rev. Damasane than with the newspaper staff that puts up with him, and with the public that, even if it protests in private, will tacitly accept -- and thereby give credence to -- ideas that are murderously wrong.

The persecution of witches across Africa, from Kenya to Johannesburg, is the terminus of irrationality. From the relative safety of a desk in the semi-sane West, it is too easy to forget that -- to believe that "critical thinking" is a game of intellectual one-upmanship, and that the "enemy" really is Sylvia Browne or John Edward or Peter Popoff. But they are not our enemies. They are merely promoters of an attitude. They tell us that the impossible is possible, and it would be asking far too much to expect them to imagine that, a world away, the same proposition has the power to make the intolerable tolerable; to turn famine to fate, a still-birth to a curse, and kin to kindling.

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written by cthulhu_4_president, October 29, 2009
I'm a long time lurker of the JREF site, but I've never felt compelled to comment until now. This story is, IMHO, truly what skepticism is all about because this is the tragic end result of non-critical thought, and a society that tolerates it at best and encourages it at worst. It is a reminder of why we think the way we do, and why it is so important. Thank you, JREF, for refusing to remain silent on this issue.
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Has there been any statement from...
written by Ted Powell, October 29, 2009
---Thomas Muthee?
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Horrific
written by Jim Shaver, October 29, 2009
I didn't want to look, but I did anyway. My face and hands are now sweating, and those often suppressed feelings of shame and disgust for humanity are currently front and center in my mind. It is almost inconceivable to me that in the twenty-first century human beings can still be so senselessly brutal to each other, and yet this is how far, or how little, we've in fact come.

As skeptics, we in this particular community already know and have now seen the harm that can come from zealous, superstitious, unreasonable thinking. I just can't understand why the vast majority of the six billion of us in this world cannot decide together simply that this kind of culture has to be stopped. Shame on our leaders. Shame on us all.
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written by Alan3354, October 29, 2009
This is the legacy of acceptance of religion/superstition.

"Respecting a person's religion" provides a backdrop for belief in any supernatural phenomenon.

How many have been tortured, brutalized and killed by churches, and inquisitors? More than zero? That's too many.
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written by LostAngeles, October 29, 2009
I'm going to do what I can to spread this around at the very least. Maybe, given enough momentum, someone somewhere will pick this story up.

In the meantime, my privlege and I are going to drink until I can barely remember what I just saw.
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written by Kay-the-fish, October 29, 2009
"The closest Africa's new witch craze has come to serious media exposure was in November of last year"

Fox news ran a (an Associated Press) story about witch burning in Nigeria this month.
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,568140,00.html
PZ and Derren Brown both linked to it.

"We do so now in answer to a South African newspaper called The Sunday News, the courageous staff of which..." Courageous? "I find it more difficult to be angry with Rev. Damasane than with the newspaper staff that puts up with him..." I am confused? Sometimes sarchasm doesn't translate in print. I am having trouble finding the coverage in The Sunday News.
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Sunday News
written by Cyclintologist, October 29, 2009
After searching the Sunday New's archives for witchcraft After reading way too many articles about the existence of witchcraft, I found the cited article. Here is the URL from my browser.
http://www.sundaynews.co.zw/inside.aspx?sectid=4575&cat=3&livedate=10/5/2009
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written by David Fabijan, October 29, 2009
This video was really shocking. So shocking that I actually made a JREF account to be able to comment on it. I have also started a Facebook group ("Stop witch burning"), to try and make people more aware of this issue (it probably won't do much good, but it might help get the information to a few more people).
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written by Alan3354, October 29, 2009
It's almost always women. Being abused, abducted, raped, vilified, blamed for the "original sin."

I think if only women were allowed to have guns, things might change. I'm willing to give it a try.

At the very least, men should not be allowed to be in political power.

Yes, I have had a drink or 2, but I agree with what I say when I'm sober.
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written by Alan3354, October 29, 2009
Sometimes the "woman" is only 7 years old.
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written by Kay-the-fish, October 29, 2009
@ Cyclintologist. Thank you.

I read some of the other witchcraft articles too. This publication is hardly a "newspaper", it seems. Getting the word out about the witch craze is really a cause skeptics can rally behind. What sadness I feel when thinking about the scope of these beliefs. It is sad to think how long it will take to free people from such notions.
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written by TDjazz, October 29, 2009
I'm numb. Such a horrific act.

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written by Otara, October 29, 2009
These are terrible acts but surely context has to be considered?

We're talking a continent with hundreds of millions of people, many different cultures, war, famine, dictators, AIDS epidemics, massive poverty etc etc.

To put it bluntly, this probably isnt the top of their priority list newswise, theres too much horror to share around and focussing on issues that involve dozens can seem a bit insensitive when they're dealing with hundreds of thousands or millions with some of the others. The articles exist, they just arent the main focus.

Kenya wise,from what Ive just read they get arrested, prosecution is difficult as it is for many mob based crimes. Im not really sure what people think should be done about these things - outrage is easy, quick solutions not always.
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Context!?
written by ConTester, October 29, 2009
The context is “rampant and pervasive superstition provoking human tragedies.” That’s the broader context. Several African countries still have legislation making witchcraft practices such as casting spells illegal and a serious offence. In the case of Zimbabwe where such legislation was revoked some years ago, moves are afoot to reinstate it. Even in South Africa, though not (presently) illegal, witchcraft is very common. There is a purpose-built village in the northern parts of SA dedicated to the protection of people, male and female, who are victims of witch hunts. Guess what? They have started accusing one another of practising witchcraft. It would almost be funny if it wasn’t so sad.
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written by ianmacm, October 29, 2009
Perhaps the main lesson here is the gap that now exists between the Internet and the mainstream media. Sadly, it is possible to spend all day on the Internet watching videos like this if you know where to look. CNN, Fox and the BBC would draw the line at material like this, and without the video it becomes just another story from Africa.
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a slightly different angle
written by koenstroeken, October 29, 2009
I have worked in a neighboring region. The violence you see is what you get when you start a school education and do not complete it. In many semi-urban parts of Africa we are witnessing a dangerous transitional situation whereby church ministers and young people have begun to take magical beliefs literally, like some kind of alternative science. Before, they got initiated into magic and divination. Every African was a Randi. Now that they no longer perform, they have become an audience of 'magic'. They start 'believing' in these things in a different way. The result is more violence, more extreme.
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written by bosshog, October 30, 2009
An instructive case for those who say modern technological society is the root of the world's evil and that we must return to our "pastoral" pre-technological existence. The Peaceable Kingdom.
Ignorance is not content to be ignorant - it fills in the gaps with imaginative speculations that are usually wrong and often pernicious and even lethal.
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SHAME ON YOU! AND SHAME ON THE JREF!, Lowly rated comment [Show]
@Gazcam
written by chaunceyworld, October 30, 2009
I think your obvious discomfort and anxiety over this sort of video is understandable. However, JREF has little to do, in my opinion, with the propagation of this video. One might be surprised at what 'average, everyday people' google. But one should not be. There will always be those who have a prurient interest in such videos, there is no stopping that ever. Then there are the few who will feel compelled, because of it, to contact others, perhaps legislators, to begin to protest and thus draw more attention to the very insidious problem of any world where education is not as valuable or available as fanaticism.
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written by stacyhead, October 30, 2009
Gazcam,
I am a lifelong skeptic and atheist. This article and video just brings it home for me that non-critical thinking and belief in the superstiious can cause a remarkable amount of mass hysteria. If only one person sees this video and comes to the conclusion that this is insanity, then it's purpose has been served. I don't understand how you feel the JREF is "lowering itself" by educating people such as myself (I had forgotten this sort of thing still went on. I cannot find a word in webster's to describe how horrible this is. Your response is disparaging. Let's discuss hate crimes, I knew what happened to Matthew Shepard, but after I saw the simulated footage of what happened to him, it evoked emotion in me that caused to to begin a campaign against hate crimes, bullying and to focalise our role in changing the way the world views hate mongering. Some people are complacent to only hear of the autrocities. You were warned, don't watch. This argument is a strawman.
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...and that's no excuse either, Lowly rated comment [Show]
oh, come on!!, Lowly rated comment [Show]
@stacyhead, Lowly rated comment [Show]
@Gazcam
written by bkthorp, October 30, 2009
Gazcam:

I'm sure you're at least partially correct. There are probably lots of people in the world with sufficiently active imaginations and a sufficient sense of empathy that they may hear a thing articulated -- such as "five humans were burned alive in Nyamatoro" -- and fully grasp the statement's weight and implications.

In my own case, however, there is a distinct difference between "knowing" and "seeing." I have known since the early 'Aughts that "witch" burnings took place in sub-Saharan Africa, and I've been angered and sickened by it ever since. But I became more angered and sickened after seeing the video.

- BKT

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written by Otara, October 30, 2009
"In the case of Zimbabwe where such legislation was revoked some years ago, moves are afoot to reinstate it."

Zimbabwe has 1.8 million people with HIV out of 12 million, hyperinflation, a semi dictatorship, life expectancy of 37, major human rights abuses etc etc.

In that context, potential witchcraft legislation isnt what Id call the most serious issue, other than as one symptom of a country in general dire straits out of many.
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written by ianmacm, October 30, 2009
Like it or not, Gazcam has made some valid points. JREF has rightly criticized the stupidity of radical Islam on many occasions, but has not felt the need to offer links to beheading videos to prove the point. Even on the Internet, there is a balance to be struck between avoiding censorship and highlighting graphic content in an unnecessary way. I support the link to the Kenyan video with a strong disclaimer, although there are bound to be disagreements.
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written by Gazcam, October 30, 2009
In my own case, however, there is a distinct difference between "knowing" and "seeing."


And on the basis of having now viewed this video, what difference will it make to your (in)actions? Can you honestly say that having seen this video, you will now begin a vigorous campaign to end such atrocities? If not, then your viewing of it was gratuitous.

Don't get me wrong, the argument that a picture paints a thousand words is not lost on me, and if this were coming from, let's say, Amnesty International, who's primary purpose is to be actively engaged in direct interventions in places such as Kenya were this footage is from, I would have more sympathy with them distributing it. But the justification here at the JREF is not this; it has not led them to now become active in Africa to bring about and end to these sorts of crimes, or even to facilitate the actions of its readership who choose to do so - the most that can be said for the alignment of this with the JREF's goals is to have underscored the notion that critical thinking is important, and the implications of not applying it, can be grave. But as I have said, if you needed to watch a video of a horrific murder to tell you that, then it's more than critical thinking that you need.
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The video is a link...
written by JeffWagg, October 30, 2009
For Gazcam and others, we did not put the video on the Internet. We merely linked to a page that contains it. I just want to be clear that we are not introducing this video to the world. We first found out about it on Twitter.

To Gazcam, there is a difference between eating a hamburger and visiting a slaughterhouse. You already know where the beef comes from, and you could read a description of the process, but visiting makes it much more understandable. I find the idea of watching this video for entertainment purposes to be horrific, but there is information in that video that can't be described via text. It turns faceless, nameless victims into people, and that could make all the difference.
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written by Gnardude, October 30, 2009
The video is here because it is proof. Jeff I think you were right to include this evidence. Good work!
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..., Lowly rated comment [Show]
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written by ianmacm, October 30, 2009
It's interesting that the link to the Kenyan video was found on Twitter. In June this year, the death of Neda Agha-Soltan in Iran became one of the most discussed items ever on Twitter (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D...gha-Soltan). The mainstream media picked up on the story, but some outlets found the uncensored video too upsetting to broadcast. The increasing power of the Internet means that it is no longer practical to sweep videos like this under the carpet, but they should not be used simply to shock, and an adequate warning about the content should always be given.
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written by Gazcam, October 30, 2009
oops - got my quotes in the wrong place on that last post! smilies/sad.gif
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written by ianmacm, October 30, 2009
There was never yet a disturbing video on the Internet without someone crying "This is a fake!". This is exactly what the defence team did in the case of the Dnepropetrovsk Maniacs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D...sk_maniacs) but the court accepted the material as genuine. For anyone who has seen the Kenyan video, its authenticity is unlikely to be in doubt, and it is the ethical consequences of linking to material of this kind that need to be questioned.
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written by chaunceyworld, October 30, 2009
What is your discomfort here? I think you are projecting on others something that you find in yourself. All of your arguments are emotional. The truth is that people DO need to see things that are graphic sometimes, to stir them into action. You are not talking to a bunch of teens who do nothing but surf the net for visual excitement in its most base form. I have already begun to talk to my friends about this, to see if I can get one more person to write/call our own lawmakers. I'm just getting started. Neda is a good example of what can happen here. Oh, and If someone said 'we have proof of such and such, please support this cause' I would in fact have to answer 'show me' in my best skeptical way. And that's the last I'll comment about it.
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A Picture IS Worth a Thousand Words
written by Rustylizard, October 30, 2009
In college, I once wrote a paper on the Holocaust and the Russian Pogroms. It required reading fourteen books - first person accounts written by victims, and it depressed me terribly. But what I remember most, forty years later, are the images I was shown in the classroom – bulldozers pushing emaciated bodies into mass graves. Those shocking scenes still drive me to write letters to the editor, or contact politicians to fight anti-Semitism and genocide when the occasion calls for it.

So, Gascon, if you fault me for requiring a strong stimulus to drive me to take action I plead guilty. Perhaps you are superior to me. But your conviction that viewing horrific evidence is only “gratuitous and for your own morbid enjoyment” is inaccurate and insulting to many of your fellow skeptics.

JREF, you were right to link the video (though I couldn’t make it through to the end). For many of us, a comment in a newspaper hits like a tack hammer; a video hits like a sledgehammer – it’s part of our psychological makeup. Apologies are unnecessary if it makes one do good.
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written by Gazcam, October 30, 2009
its authenticity is unlikely to be in doubt


I'm not suggesting it is - only that it isn't proof of anything. The JREF wouldn't accept video footage as 'proof', and we shouldn't accept this as proof that death by burning occurs; as such, providing 'proof' is not a sufficient justification for the posting of this video on the JREF site.

The increasing power of the Internet means that it is no longer practical to sweep videos like this under the carpet


No one is suggesting sweeping it under the carpet - as Jeff Wagg points out, the video already existed on the internet; reposting it here is simply extending it's viewing audience further.

Anyway, I think I've made my point, a number of times now. I'll leave it to the rest of you to decide whether posting a video of a horrific murder was necessary in the JREF's remit of promoting critical thinking.
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@Gazcam
written by outsorcerer, October 30, 2009
I think you are failing to understand the difference between grasping the concept in one's mind, and seeing it first hand.

I don't believe including the video was gratuitous at all. These days you pratically have to shock people out of inaction, and this video may very well do it. Its the central concept beind the emaciated children in the "Feed the Children" ads, and the reason the Bush administration wouldn't allow any film of all the caskets coming home from Iraq.

Seeing a point driven home, is often far more effective with the general populace, that simply describing it. It is the very reason movies are far more successful commercially (and generally resonate better with the public at large) than books (though in nearly every instance I prefer the book).

If the shocking images contained in the video, and linked here spark even one person into action, wasn't the posting worth it? Do you think the text of this article (or nearly any article for that matter) alone would be sufficient to sway the masses, or even a significant number of individuals into action?

I understand what you're saying, but I feel you're wrong on this, and your outrage could probably be better funnelled combating the issue explored here, rather than continuing to fuel a pseudo-semantics arguement here in the comments on the inclusion of the link to the video...an arguement that potentially diverts much needed help in highlighting the issue at hand.
Your thoughts?
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written by Alan3354, October 30, 2009
If we don't see it, it's not real.
If we don't hear about it, that's even better.

Let's keep our heads in the sand.
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written by mazyloron, October 30, 2009
OK, bickering with Gazcam aside, I think I am misunderstanding something in the article, namely this:
We do so now in answer to a South African newspaper called The Sunday News, the courageous staff of which has decided that they, at least, are done with silence. They have decided to speak out against the African "witchcraft" outrage, and last week they did so. Here are some excerpts from their report, written by a minister named Paul Damasane.

link: http://www.sundaynews.co.zw/in...=10/5/2009
I found the link to the full article in the comments, the one provided was not accurate.

The Sunday News' article does not seem, to me, to be speaking out against the witch hunts. This sounds like it's written by someone who leads them. Their article says that witchcraft is real, and Christians SHOULD be exorcising demons. Unless the paper is posting Mr. Damasane's article in order to expose his attitude as unacceptable, though there are no editor's comments before or after to indicate that is what is being done. It sounds to me like The Sunday News is supporting the witch hunts.
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written by ianmacm, October 30, 2009
At the end of the 1980 film Cannibal Holocaust, the television company executives are so shocked by what they see in the documentary film that they order it to be burned (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannibal_Holocaust). Nowadays, the film would end up on the Internet, just as the Kenyan video has done. It has become something of an Internet meme to post links to graphic content, arguing that it shows the world as it really is. This is a standard argument on the message boards of the shock sites, but there is a risk either of offending people or of shock fatigue setting in.
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written by arnray, October 30, 2009
Let us not forget that there is video of Sarah Palin praying with one of these African witchfinders and having her campaign for governor being blessed by him.
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Gazcam
written by Griz, October 30, 2009
You didn't imagine my response, which is that I think it's kinda funny that you want to decide whether the rest of us get to watch something that you don't have the intestinal fortitude to handle. Don't apply your fears to me, I don't need you to police what I can and can't watch based on what you're afraid of. Unfortunately I've seen a lot worse than this.

In fact, I think I could make the opposite case. Guys like you need to toughen up and see what death looks like. It changes the way you think about crime, war, and disease. Most of us don't see real death in our everyday lives. We shelter ourselves from the reality and gorge on fake death and violence on TV and in movies where it's clear who are the bad guys and who are the good guys.

I personally think that seeing something like this can galvanize the average person into realizing that the problems in someplace like Africa are not just distant brown masses ebbing and flowing in an endless struggle, but actual people, someone's mother or father, son or daughter, who dies screaming in agony never to return to his or her family.

In western civilization we have so much opportunity and so many options, so many ways to get help if we need it, it's easy to forget that most of the world lives a short, hard life in poverty and oppression with no way out.

We have to acknowledge also that it's because we don't want to look at things like this that most of the help that these folks will recieve will come from privately funded religious missionary organizations, and in this case they do nothing but propagate the problem because most of them are just fine with the concept of witchcraft. It's something they will understand because their bible talks about it a lot and they tend to conflate it with demonic possession. This is great stuff for the fundie charismatic missionary. He can get oodles of dramatic mileage out of witch burnings and exorcisms.
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It made me feel ill...
written by Michieux, October 30, 2009
...so I turned it off. "Johnny" was right to post this video on the internet, and so was the JREF. I'd go further and suggest that every television outlet in every country ought to show it during prime time, preceded by the warning, and followed by some suitable discussion to bring the point home.

The madness in the video is not Africa's alone. Never was. Look and learn.
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written by ianmacm, October 30, 2009
Nobody should criticize Gazcam for deciding not to watch the video, because it was made clear right at the start that the decision to click on the link was a personal matter. It is still unclear how much coverage this video will pick up in the mainstream media, because it fits the pattern of material that CNN/BBC etc would simply not show under any circumstances. Johnny is offering the full video for sale on his website, but should not hold his breath.
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written by boredagain, October 30, 2009
Grow up Gascan, no one on this site is jerking off to this video or getting off on it. WE watch it to be informed. We don't need your holier than though ramblings and judgment. You think you are better than every one else for not watching, but that is only in your mind. Don't want to watch, don't watch, but I for one want to understand the matter fully... If a picture is a worth a 1000 words than a video is worth much more than that. This kind of footage helped end Vietnam, which is why the US Military tries so hard to keep negative pictures of bodies and carnage from reaching the light of day. Even photographs of flag draped coffins are considered unpatriotic to show, which may explain why the bombing of civilians in Afghanistan continues and is now been an active war longer than Vietnam was.
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@alan3354, Lowly rated comment [Show]
Yes .. it's a dangerous memetical infection ..
written by Dr.Sid, October 30, 2009
Christianity, I mean. While shooting the patients would not be human, isolating them so they can't spread it sounds reasonable. Except there is so many of them.
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written by ConTester, October 30, 2009
Zimbabwe has 1.8 million people with HIV out of 12 million, hyperinflation, a semi dictatorship, life expectancy of 37, major human rights abuses etc etc.

In that context, potential witchcraft legislation isnt what Id call the most serious issue, other than as one symptom of a country in general dire straits out of many.
Right. So one superstition can thrive unhindered while several others are poked at ineffectually and pooh-poohed because they can show more victims. The superficial validity of that stance is not in question. Nor is its First World centricity. Still, it must be nice living in a distilled world where others’ existence can be so easily sidelined and problems so easily compartmentalised. But here’s a deal I formally challenge you to: come and meet me in Africa instead of lecturing ostentatiously on these priorities from your armchair. You can reach me at . (Do not, however, make the mistake of assuming that anything other than travel arrangements in your messages will be treated in confidence.) You will meet a great many who are affected directly and negatively by an endless array of superstitions covering a wide spectrum of severity, all part of one monolithic mindset. As we say down here, “you're talking kak” if, without having lived here, you want to profess to know what’s socially, culturally or politically important in Africa and what isn’t.
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written by ConTester, October 30, 2009
Hmm, JREF no like e-mail addresses, eh? That should be: “You can reach me at < c o n - t e s t e r @ v o d a m a i l . c o . z a >” (without any of the intervening spaces).
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Davis
written by Alan3354, October 30, 2009
We're fortunate your gods and beliefs provide restraint.

As for lowering the bar, you have your opinion, but that's all it is.

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written by arcane1, October 30, 2009
The truly sad part is that this video is depicting a perfectly rational response to a sincere belief in the Devil. And don't expect this to get much traction in the West. The West covets Africa's resources far more than it covets its people. That's why foreign aid never includes condoms to prevent AIDS: as long as disease and panic rule, the people of Africa will never be able to organize against the colossal theft of their natural wealth. smilies/sad.gif
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@arcane
written by Davis, October 30, 2009
Yeah, right. Africa's situation is all due to the greedy West (USA of course). Typical liberal propaganda.
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written by arcane1, October 30, 2009
"Africa's situation is all due to the greedy West"

Did I say that?
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@arcane
written by Davis, October 30, 2009
The gist of your post was that it is in the USA's best interest for Africa to remain in chaos. Correct?
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written by Alan3354, October 30, 2009
According to some, god loves us all and it's all part of his "master plan", so don't fret about it.
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written by Alan3354, October 30, 2009
"I can't believe there are still people who think there are witches."

"Let me tell you about Jesus, and how he was killed, but got over it."
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@alan(hiccup)3354
written by Davis, October 30, 2009
Let me tell you about McVeigh and how he was consistent with his atheism. Folks like you seem to want to hi-jack the christian principles.
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Meanwhile, back in England in 1610...
written by ianmacm, October 30, 2009
By a coincidence, this news story was posted on the BBC news website today: http://ponyurl.com/d32rcd. In 1610, Richard Wilkyns was hanged as a witch on this charge "...being moved and seduced by the instigation of the devil, wickedly and feloniously practice and exercise certain hateful arts and diabolic enchantments, called in English Witchcraftes & Sorcerye...did wickedly and feloniously kill and murder that Richard Seward..."

The people who died in the Kenyan video were probably accused of something similar, so lectures about African ignorance mean very little when white people did the same thing in the past. Psychologists regard witch hunts as a form of mass hysteria, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W...itch-hunts.
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written by Starthinker, October 30, 2009
I just can't comprehend how humans can be so cruel. I am utterly, completely...well, words fail me. We all know horrific things happen, but knowing and experiencing (even via a video) are two completely different things.

I live in an area where no mobs form. Where Christians, Wiccans, Atheists, and all manner of people live next door to each other, we watch each other's kids and share each other's barbecues. There is food and water and warmth and safety and fourth page headlines from third world nations barely touch our day. There is not much I can do for these people, they are too far away and their problems are too large for a man like me, but I will remain vigilant that this sort of mentality will never infect my small part of this world.

I, for one, don't begrudge the JREF for showing this, I know it was a hard decision, but we all need to know why it is we do what we do. This is the sort of extreme we all wish to avoid. May we all learn and grow from this.
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@Davis
written by Alan3354, October 30, 2009
What are the "christian principles?"
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written by Alan3354, October 30, 2009
written by Davis, October 30, 2009

Let me tell you about McVeigh and how he was consistent with his atheism. Folks like you seem to want to hi-jack the christian principles.

You need to get professional help for your fascination with McVeigh.

Folks like me? You don't know me, or what I've done. What have you ever done for your fellow man?


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@alan
written by Davis, October 30, 2009
the same ones that darwinists believe we evolved in order to "protect our species"
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@alan
written by Davis, October 30, 2009
Stay thirsty, my friend.
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Davis
written by Alan3354, October 30, 2009
That's some argument. What grade are you in?
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Davis
written by Alan3354, October 30, 2009
What contributions have your "christian principles" led you to make to your fellow man?
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written by Roo, October 30, 2009
Just watched this video. F***ing hell, that's all I can say. Those poor, poor people. smilies/cry.gif

The JREF is totally right in trying to expose this sort of thing. Sadly, belief in witchcraft is so widespread in Africa. One of my father's colleagues was out there, trying to help put a stop to this kind of thing. Yes, she was a missionary - I don't say this to invite abuse of my parents' or their colleagues' beliefs; just to explain why she was out there. At one meeting with village elders, a bird was flying around inside the building where the meeting was taking place. It bashed one of its wings quite badly as it attempted to escape. Two days later, a wild-eyed woman came up to my dad's colleague in the local marketplace, screaming abuse at her and indicating her arm, which was broken and in a sling. From what they could understand, the woman was claiming that she was a witch and had "transformed herself into the bird" to try to disrupt the meeting. It was an extremely bizarre and unsettling experience. Tellingly, though, the missionary's African friends were not too upset at the incident and explained that "it is quite common here".

I wish there was something we could do to help innocent folk in these situations, though. Is anyone going to send this clip, or does anyone know if it has already been sent, to the United Nations, President Obama, etc.?

I suspect that ultimately nothing will be done, however. As appallingly sad as that is. Unless oil, gold, international terrorism or rich white people (I'm white, but not rich!) are involved, no-one seems to care. Which makes me ashamed to be human.

What is it with us humans? I can't imagine a load of zebras doing this to some other zebras (for example), just because their stripes aren't as stripey...

Very, very sad.
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written by ianmacm, October 30, 2009
It always makes me smile when a television news anchor says "Some viewers may find this report disturbing" and there is practically nothing in it. Compared with this video and others on the Internet, television news has been heavily sanitized. It is hard to blame TV companies for doing this when they have to go out live at six in the evening, but it does mean that stories like this are likely to get pushed off the agenda.
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written by Otara, October 30, 2009
I find it disturbing that people are using the rating system to silence disagreement rather than to remove posts that are clearly against the TOS.

Think about why you're clicking it down people. In my view it shouldn't just be because you dont like whats being said and its pretty obvious thats whats being done sometimes.

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written by Otara, October 30, 2009
"Still, it must be nice living in a distilled world where others’ existence can be so easily sidelined and problems so easily compartmentalised."

I dont really understand what you're talking about. My point was more exactly the converse that pointing out the horrors of witchburning without mentioning the many other problems thats are occurring seems well, odd. Who decided that witchburning was the highest priority out of the issues I listed? Seems to me in this thread it was mostly a whole bunch of Westerners, not the people in the situation. You personally might, but are you speaking for all africans or yourself? And what are your proposed solutions to it if so?

If your argument is that Africa has been crying out for help on this issue and the West has been ignoring it, thats one thing. So far I havent seen a lot of evidence thats the case.
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written by Otara, October 30, 2009
What I see is people not sure where to start because there are so many huge issues to deal with. Issues like this get buried under the many other issues causing myriads of deaths.

Sorry hit enter too soon.
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written by ConTester, October 30, 2009
I dont really understand what you're talking about.
Yes, that much is clear enough. It is why you persist in arguing matters on which you are poorly informed, if at all. People aren’t numbers – or logs on a bonfire.

My point was more exactly the converse that pointing out the horrors of witchburning without mentioning the many other problems thats are occurring seems well, odd.
Rubbish. Judging alone by what you wrote, your point, amply pontificated on from the comfort of your armchair, was that witchcraft persecutions were somehow of minor significance when compared in terms of number of victims to several other evils occurring in Africa. As if numbers mattered to those directly affected. You fail to understand, let alone acknowledge, that most of the bad stuff in Africa is the result of the same basic malaise: superstition.

Who decided that witchburning was the highest priority out of the issues I listed? Seems to me in this thread it was mostly a whole bunch of Westerners, not the people in the situation.
Tell that to the people who got flambéed. Then you might want to make the personal acquaintance of a few litres of petrol and a rubber tyre or two.

Earlier I posted a comment with links to several recent witchcraft-related news articles. The comment seems still to be under admin review.

But whatever. I see you’ve decide to dodge my challenge to you, so your words no longer carry any weight with me. Believe just what you fancy.
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These are nothing more than self-serving justifications
written by Gazcam, October 30, 2009
I've read through the comments in response to my objection to the JREF including this video, and I think they can be collectively summarized as:
- who are you to tell me what I can, and can't watch
- this must reflect your own anxieties/insecurities/weaknesses/[add your own insult here]
- we need to see this to stir us into action; reading it is not enough

Well I think none of these arguments justifies people watching someone being burned to death. To emphasize the point, let me give you a highly comparable scenario: let's consider the point that many children in Africa suffer violent rape at the hands of relatives; perhaps the male perpetrators consider it their 'right' due to some woo fantasies. So, the JREF writes an article to expose the grave implications that can ensue where woo fantasies are entertained. Fantastic - I'm on board up to here, but you know where this is going... They also include a link to a video in which a child is brutally raped. It is as graphic and horrific as one might expect, but is preceded by the warning, "This contains images of a horrific act of sexual violence. You do not need to see the video to understand and appreciate the article" So, how many of you who seek to justify the JREF's position would click on the link and watch the video? How many of you need to see this to appreciate the point? How many of you will see it as my weakness that I feel this should not be made available for public consumption? How many will suggest I am being pious and superior to suggest it should be removed? And how many feel that they would not take action against it unless they could actually view the act for themselves? Well?? Do you?? Is it a question of drawing the line, and burning to death is within your line, but child rape crosses it? If you are being consistent, you will find yourself clicking on the link to watch a video of child rape. Enjoy yourself - I hope your justifications are of some comfort to you.

I stand by my original position (which you'll need to click on, since people see fit to vote it down and therefore out of view (and then ironically accuse me of censorship!!!). The viewing of a brutal murder is in no way justified by any of the rationalizations that have been offered, and they are exposed for what they are when the material is substituted with something equally offensive, such as child rape. I just didnt' think it would be necessary to point it out in this way... seems I was wrong about that.
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written by Otara, October 30, 2009
"I see you’ve decide to dodge my challenge to you"

To travel to Africa? It was a silly argument as you must know.

"You fail to understand, let alone acknowledge, that most of the bad stuff in Africa is the result of the same basic malaise: superstition. "

Thats a pretty large claim and one I would have difficulty agreeing with. In any case this isnt a discussion, just webboard yelling so not much point in continuing. I guess its understandable given the topic but still disappointing.



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It Adds Up
written by Realitysage, October 30, 2009
The sum total of extreme ignorance is man's inhumanity to man....
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Christian Principles & Gazcam
written by Alencon, October 30, 2009
Christian Principles, another oxymoron like giant shrimp, business ethics and military intelligence.

As for Gazcam's objections, he has a point, but he's overlooking the fact that some of us find such things hard to accept without seeing them ourselves. That's just the psychology of some people. And yes, I watched the video. I needed to erase that last vestige of doubt.
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Mostly @Gazcam
written by CasaRojo, October 30, 2009
Atrocities need to be shoved in our faces until they frickin' stop. I watched only a few seconds of the video and it had a tremendous impact on me. That was the point I am sure.

I grew up watching pretty graphic news footage from Viet Nam on the evening news. Perhaps that's what started my aversion to war. Some of us need to witness reality for it to be real. Perhaps most of us do.

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written by ianmacm, October 30, 2009
As part of its Halloween coverage, the BBC website has this article about burning witches: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8334055.stm. The caption on one of the pictures says Children dress up as witches without understanding the brutal history. Quite so.
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written by Chinner, October 30, 2009
Sometimes the shock factor is needed to highlight a real problem that is largely going un-noticed.
Take the latest inane comments on witchcraft by Pat Robertson. http://mojoey.blogspot.com/200...ight.html. Promoting medieval superstition as fact and using the Christian religion to qualify these beliefs is the root of the problem.
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written by ConTester, October 31, 2009
It was a silly argument as you must know.
No, I don’t know such a thing at all, but I think I see your point: finding out the facts firsthand for yourself is a silly argument. It’s an especially silly argument when a great many of those facts see very limited publication, if any. And it’s an unfathomably silly argument when you can simply ignore the actual nature of the African social fabric by imposing your own largely inapplicable values on it. I mean, who then needs actual facts when sound bites, the Internet and a little imagination together can instantly turn one an erudite expert?

Silly me, why didn’t I think of that!?
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written by pakeha, October 31, 2009
I've only just now read this shattering entry to Swift's Blog.
Not a continent away, in Nigeria a similar thing is happening.
It's been brought up the Forum here:
http://forums.randi.org/showth...ost4724429

The affilation of the Nigerian episodes with Christian pastors makes the hideous atrocities even harder to bear.
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written by karokos@pacbell.net, October 31, 2009
So, Gazcam, Jet Magazine shouldn't have published pictures of Emmett Till's body?
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Zimbabwean, not South African
written by markbellis, October 31, 2009
The Sunday News is published in Zimbabwe, not South Africa, and is described as "state controlled", which means subservient to the ZANU-PF" (Robert Mugabe's party) - not a high recommendation for a newspaper!
It wasn't that long ago that the good people of the colony that thought of itself as a "City upon a hill" were hanging and pressing those they believed to be witches!
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Context is everything
written by Gazcam, November 01, 2009
So, Gazcam, Jet Magazine shouldn't have published pictures of Emmett Till's body?


That's an interesting response (and as a digression, I note the general lack of response from those who were previously all to quick to get behind the witchcraft video, but are less willing to justify their actions when they are taken to their logical conclusion). Anyway, back to the question...

I am not saying that to show disturbing images or video is necessarily always wrong. As I said in an earlier post, the notion that 'a picture paints a thousand words' is not lost on me. However, it's important to judge each case on its own merits: where justification is apparent for one case, it may not apply in another. In regard to the Till case, a genuine political aim was served by the use of those images: this was a brutal murder that was carried out in the USA; it reflected a very real aspect of society, for which at the time, was a widespread social evil. The purpose of those images, and indeed, the decision of the mother to show an open coffin to reveal the horrendous injuries that had been inflicted, was purposefully to bring home the message, as loudly as possible, how devastating racial violence had become. It was a powerful message, with the weight to change minds, and the images provided an inescapable truth for those who would seek to deny the severity, or mitigate the actions. Had CCTV footage been available at the time, I would have supported it being shown, as widely as possible. They would have impacted upon people for whom this was an everyday issue, to which they themselves may be contributing, and may well have awakened them from their ignorance and brutality. In other words, the context and the purpose justifies the distribution of such disturbing material. It is certainly not gratuitous, there is a specific end in mind, and indeed, it is widely acknowledged that this contributed to that end.

This context does not exist in the case of the images made available on this article. Consider the context: this is a website for sceptical thinkers: presumably, what binds those of us drawn here is the interest in seeing supernatural claims debunked. There is likely a consensus amongst us regarding astrology, homeopathy, psychic powers, etc, etc. There may be some issues (e.g. religion), where there is controversy even amongst rational, critical thinkers, but witchcraft is undoubtedly NOT one of them. There is no need to educate or persuade the readers of this blog of the insanity of witchcraft - I didn't notice a single post for example stating, 'yes they went a bit far, but she is a witch though'. I would also be so bold as to suggest that none of us needs convincing that burning people alive to their horrific and slow death is not a rational form of punishment, whether for woo-woo crimes or any other - again, note not a single post suggesting, 'well okay, not for witchcraft, but I certainly see a place for burning to death in the judiciary's arsenal'. So, there is nothing here the JREF is trying to convince us of that we didn't all unequivocally support already; no action that they're hoping we will now take, if only we'd watch the video. The context and rationale which justifies the Emmett Till case simply does not exist for publicising videos showing people being burned to death on the JREF site. I could be wrong, but I imagine there will be not a single person who has taken any direct action, specifically as a result of watching this video (certainly, no one has cited any). Unlike the Till case, the origin is too far removed from people's spheres of influence; their impotence to prevent similar future atrocities is magnified but unchanged by seeing this video. And remember, there are typically 20-100 comments on a JREF article in Swift - if widespread distribution was your intention, this would hardly be the forum to choose. Therefore, in the absence of any such clearly defined objective, I stand by the point that posting such footage is irresponsible, and viewing it, gratuitous.

It is not inconceivable to imagine a context in which the distribution of these images was valid. Imagine for example, this was to be shown to local Kenyans, who may support, actively or passively, the notion of witchcraft. They may be unaware, or never have directly witnessed, the use of burning as a human torture for such 'crimes', and seeing this may well shock them out of their ignorance, and effect real change. Sadly, I imagine there are very few Kenyan witchcraft sympathisers who frequent the JREF site. If there are, I take back my comments to you, and to you alone!
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@Gazcam
written by CasaRojo, November 02, 2009
"So, there is nothing here the JREF is trying to convince us of that we didn't all unequivocally support already"

This is not a private web page. In general, I would ask you to give this issue a whole lot more thought.
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written by Gazcam, November 02, 2009
"So, there is nothing here the JREF is trying to convince us of that we didn't all unequivocally support already"

This is not a private web page. In general, I would ask you to give this issue a whole lot more thought.


Please do elaborate!! I'm interested to know whether its witchcraft I mistakenly presumed your opposition to, or death by burning alive? Please do enlighten us, since I'm assuming you've given "this issue a whole lot more thought" than your 2 sentences would indicate.
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@Gazcam
written by CasaRojo, November 02, 2009
"Please do elaborate!"

I'm afraid that no amount of elaboration would make sense to you so I'll spend my time elsewhere. But thanks for asking.
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I didn't see a sarcasm smilie - hopefully it wont' be lost on you!
written by Gazcam, November 02, 2009
I'm afraid that no amount of elaboration would make sense to you so I'll spend my time elsewhere. But thanks for asking.


Well, what a marvellous contribution to the debate that was! I'm floored by the persuasiveness of your argument - tell me, how long did it take to construct such an intricate web of profound thought? I will indeed give things greater thought in future before daring to pass on my opinions on an internet discussion site, in case I come up against the likes of your intellect and devastating arguments; perhaps I can aspire to one day mentally spar with you again sometime, though I'll need some time to recover from the sheer annihilation you've imposed upon me on this occasion.
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written by SirWizz, November 02, 2009
Gazcam, I suspect you're a tad bit too hell bent on proving everyone wrong here starting with JREF and ending with the readers supporting JREF's decision to make this video available for the readers. Your main points are that this video is unnecessary due to context and that it can't possibly provoke any (re)action besides horror at the sight of it.

Your context argument is largely valid, however I have read one of the first comments where someone (David Fabijan) said that they were starting a group on Facebook to spread awareness about this. Awareness is great, action is better. However there can not be action without awareness first. So at least one person has done something about it as a result of watching this video. Hopefully some real, direct action will follow as well in the future.

Perhaps not seeing the video would generate even less action. I believe a good chunk of the population is desensitized when it comes to this type of events/news. A witch burning in Kenya is not likely to raise more eyebrows in the US or elsewhere than say - "50 people die in market bombing in Baghdad". These are the daily news unfortunately and as a result our capacity for empathy is probably less than ideal and we're dealing with a lot of apathy instead. It's the main reason why videos that try to drive a point today have become more violent and shocking.

Linking to this video falls in the same trend. I don't intend to watch the video although I think everyone should decide for themselves if it's worth seeing it. Our empathy levels are not the same. If you really need to watch the video to convince yourself that it's a true story and to be able to relate do so, but suffer the consequences. I think I'd lose a bit of my humanity seeing this but I can only speak for myself.
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Is Facebook the strongest justification we have?
written by Gazcam, November 02, 2009
Gazcam, I suspect you're a tad bit too hell bent on proving everyone wrong here starting with JREF and ending with the readers supporting JREF's decision to make this video available for the readers.


Bring me your arguments, not you baseless ad hominem attacks. Given your response, would I be justified in dismissing you, on the basis that you are simply "hell bent on proving" me wrong?

Your main points are that this video is unnecessary due to context and that it can't possibly provoke any (re)action besides horror at the sight of it.


Nope. I think it can provoke many reactions, from indifference to disgust, and many shades in between. My argument is not about the reactions it will provoke in people - I have no intention of making futile attempts to police the internet for offensive content: there's plenty of it out there if people choose to find it. My argument is in challenging the JREF's justification for publicising these images. Remember, this is a horrific REAL DEATH of a REAL HUMAN BEING. It's worth remembering that this is not a Hollywood movie. You have to think carefully when you make such sensitive material publicly available, and you have to be clear in why you are doing so. I see no such objective, and the JREF have provided none, though they do admit to recognizing the sensitivity of the issue, "having sat on this video for months before deciding to publish it". The only cryptic defence offered in the article is: "We do so now in answer to a South African newspaper called The Sunday News, the courageous staff of which has decided that they, at least, are done with silence" I don't know about you, but I have no idea how that serves as justification, or provides any meaningful objective. In merely reducing this to an mpeg to spice up an article on witchcraft, the JREF fails in their responsibility, and diminishes their credibility. For those viewing it, only to then, moments later, return to their internet surfing, it is simply and undeniably, voyeuristic.


Your context argument is largely valid, however I have read one of the first comments where someone (David Fabijan) said that they were starting a group on Facebook to spread awareness about this.


This article has had 9712 hits, and generated around 90 comments. From that, the only action you can cite is a new facebook group! DO you think that constitutes justification? I don't. Do you genuinely think anything will come of it? I don't. Do you think that was a post-hoc rationalization having been challenged to justify their gratuitous viewing of a real human death?
I do.


Perhaps not seeing the video would generate even less action.

Even less - is that possible? And you mean to say, that without this video, we might have missed out on the huge leap forward that has been achieved with, er, I'm scratching around here, oh yes, a facebook group?!

I believe a good chunk of the population is desensitized when it comes to this type of events/news.

Really? And why do you think that might be? Perhaps I could suggest viewing such images unnecessarily maybe? I gave the example of earlier of substituting the content for a child rape. Not a single person has countered that argument, indicating we are at least all still sufficiently sensitive to this, and no one felt able to justify viewing such content on the JREF site. In 20 years, if these things are not challenged, do you think it will still be possible to make the same point, or will you be making your point, that we are now desensitized to this too? What a wonderful world that will be!

I think I'd lose a bit of my humanity seeing this but I can only speak for myself.

Finally, we reached a point of agreement!
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@Gazcam
written by CasaRojo, November 03, 2009
"Do you genuinely think anything will come of it? I don't."

You should apply for the MDC with your psychic ability to see the future so clearly. Will it rain tomorrow Gazcam?
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@Casarojo
written by Gazcam, November 03, 2009
It appears you have nothing to contribute. Go away.
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@Gazcam
written by CasaRojo, November 03, 2009
"Not a single person has countered that argument,"

Methinks people find it futile to discuss this subject with you. I'm sure that if you give it enough thought you could imagine a context where a video you describe would be appropriate. Perhaps not. BTW I shared this article at CBN in the comment section of an insane article written by Kimberly Daniels called The Danger of Celebrating Halloween. The article was here----> http://www.cbn.com/special/halloween/ but was removed from CBN sometime shortly after I posted the link. I'd like to think that I helped to get her ridiculous, hate filled, inaccurate and truly insane drivel removed from the site by posting the link. I'll probably never know because, IMHO, we often don't know the effects of our actions or the lack thereof. And sometimes we don't/can't even imagine what outcomes may transpire. If you're interested in reading Daniels' crapola anti Halloween/anti everyone not fundi xtian check the Google cache.
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I'm starting to repeat myself. I'm starting to repeat myself. I'm starting to repeat myself - This discussion has run its course.
written by Gazcam, November 03, 2009
Methinks people find it futile to discuss this subject with you. I'm sure that if you give it enough thought you could imagine a context where a video you describe would be appropriate.


And 'methinks' you don't read through the posts you're attempting to criticise:

It is not inconceivable to imagine a context in which the distribution of these images was valid. Imagine for example, this was to be shown to local Kenyans, who may support, actively or passively, the notion of witchcraft. They may be unaware, or never have directly witnessed, the use of burning as a human torture for such 'crimes', and seeing this may well shock them out of their ignorance, and effect real change. Sadly, I imagine there are very few Kenyan witchcraft sympathisers who frequent the JREF site. If there are, I take back my comments to you, and to you alone!


Was it you who suggested I should give more thought before posting!!!!

But you're right - it's futile to debate with people who have difficulty reading.
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@Gazcam
written by CasaRojo, November 03, 2009
You've done little but repeat yourself since your first comment on this article ad nauseum. I'm sure this is one reason why most folks are not responding to you. Just as I will stop now.
Peace to you, Gazcam.


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written by SirWizz, November 03, 2009
You drive good points Gazcam, but the same can not be said about the manner in which you do it. The thread is littered with your low scoring replies, you cost me many extra clicks smilies/grin.gif. I believe you were rated down not because of the quality of your arguments as they are sound ~ but due to the aggressive manner in which you deliver them. I am not hell bent in proving you wrong, I was merely stating what I thought was the general perception regarding your contributions to the thread.

Their justification seems to be that they're doing this as a show of support for the brave people working at that newspaper and the fact that this story does not generate enough interest to be picked up by a major network so they're here to try and increase awareness on the issue. One major reason why I don't agree with the idea of making this video freely available is because there is no way to control who is seeing this. I imagine this could be more damaging to a child than an adult who should at least know what they're doing.

Otherwise I look at it from a historical perspective as clear, irrefutable evidence that something awful is going on in Kenya - something that I don't have to watch but remains there as proof. Not that reading about it doesn't drive the point, but at least they won't be able to deny it took place. And it's not at all surprising that there are voyeurs on the JREF, I remember reading about a study some time ago that determined a vast majority of people browsing the Internet are in fact voyeurs ~ about 95% or so (mostly because they can I guess).

No, I doubt that this article was posted in the hopes of getting a Facebook page. Its main purpose seems to be raising awareness about the damage caused in people's lives by their beliefs into the supernatural. Looking at the number of hits that seems to be working somewhat (I don't know if ~10000 hits are considered a success or not at JREF or generally speaking). And no, I do not expect something to happen right away. Nor am I convinced that something will indeed happen. But the more people know about it the more chances increase that something will happen if not now, perhaps at some point in the future.

Maybe this article is a shot in the dark doomed to fail since JREF is no CNN/Fox etc., but it's a chance they obviously felt worth taking and one to which apparently they also gave a great deal of consideration. I do not agree entirely with them on the means used to spread awareness on the issue but then again it seems the article is here to stay. Maybe it's because I am new to this Forum/JREF but I find it hard to believe they would post this article just to get more hits or for some other pitiful reason.
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@Gazcam
written by Todd W., November 04, 2009
So, there is nothing here the JREF is trying to convince us of that we didn't all unequivocally support already; no action that they're hoping we will now take, if only we'd watch the video.

Agreed, the JREF is preaching to the choir. But I think what CasaRojo was getting at is that the JREF is not only read by skeptical individuals. It is read by those who are not skeptics, as well. Further, on an issue like this, the article, including the video, can be a tool that skeptics can use to let others, who normally would never read the JREF, know about this. It is increasing awareness.

In that broader context, the video can serve the same purpose as the Till photos. You're saying that the context is different because here, it's preaching to the choir. But, as word spreads and people point others here, that context broadens, not just to others within the U.S. or England or any other single country, but across the world.

Further, words on a page can very easily be dismissed by the cynical. There's not as much of an emotional, visceral response. The article itself does get the point across, to me, but I can see instances where it would take the video to really get the message across to a person.

Finally, even though a person may be able to get the point from the article, watching the video would give a better understanding of exactly what the author went through, lending a potentially deeper insight into their words. Understanding of the emotional backdrop is a vague shadow based solely on the words. The images that go with those words, however, makes that understanding real.

To sum up some of the reasons for watching:
* Morbid curiosity
* Some sick form of entertainment
* To stir someone to action (ties in with the next point)
* To make it real in a manner that words cannot
* To provide a better understanding of the author's struggle to describe it

Thus far, we've heard about the video instilling someone to spread awareness via Facebook after the post being up for 6 days, now. There may be other actions taken in these 6 days that we have not heard about, and there may be actions taken in the weeks and months to come. Some may be due solely to the text. Others may only come about because the individual watched the video.

I figure you'll probably write off my comments just as you've written off everyone else's, but I'll ask a question of you anyway: other than urging you to comment about how awful it was for the JREF to post the video, what actions have the video or the article instilled you to take? Why? If nothing, why not?
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Response to Todd.W - part I
written by Gazcam, November 04, 2009
Posted in 2 parts, due to word limit

Todd. I'm going to make this my last post, as I'm definitely repeating myself now, and I think the discussion is over. I have said all I have to say on it, so I'll take this last opportunity to reply. Feel free to carry on the discussion without me.

You entirely gloss over without a single mention, the point I've made earlier, and several times since: apply all of your arguments to the child rape case, and see how they stand up. As you didn't, I'm going to apply your summary points in the context of a child rape, and ask whether you still stand by them. If you do, fine, they're your principles, to which you're entitled, and equally, I'm stating mine (though you call this writing people off - are you not writing me off?). If you cannot, then what we are talking about is a question of degree, and where you draw your line includes showing death by burning, which is considerably further than where I would wish to draw mine.

Hypothetical Scenario: in some (hypothetical) African religion, the high priest states that if a woman is caught practising voodoo, her punishment will be that her first born female will be given to the high priest who will oust the demons by inserting his seed, which will grow inside her, and kill off the inbound devil (all hypothetical). A man videotapes this, and is willing to sell the tape to anyone who will pay him for it. Apparently, it matters not who he sells it to, as long as they have money to buy it (as is the case here). An excerpt from the video comes into the hands of the JREF.

(continued in next post)
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Response to Todd.W - part II
written by Gazcam, November 04, 2009
Given this context, let's apply your summarized reasons for viewing the video:

- morbid curiosity/sick entertainment: I presume you would you agree that to watch a child raped for morbid curiosity/sick entertainment would be abhorrent, and if this were the purpose, or their inaction following viewing the video indicated that it elicited no other purpose in response, then I'm sure would also agree that this is voyeuristic and gratuitous. I really don't count setting up a facebook page as action, but it's the only example we've heard.

- stir someone into action: If the primary purpose was to stimulate direct action, would the JREF be the appropriate forum, and be expected to have sufficiently widespread impact to justify making this material publicly available? If this was the JREF's aim, should they not have passed it to other outlets, rather than posting on a niche blog such as this, which typically receives 20-100 replies (I'm citing number of responses to indicate those who typically take any action at all, not the number of (non-unique) page visits). Even if you can convince yourself that the JREF is the appropriate forum for this purpose (and I can't), also remember that this is NOT actually the stated objective of JREF's inclusion of this video - read carefully, and you will see that they merely seek to remind readers that confronting irrationality is not a desktop past-time of those in the West. Would that justify making the child rape video available in your mind? It wouldn't in mine.

- to make it real in a way words cannot: if the JREF write an article stating that they themselves have viewed the horrific rape of a minor, and like other (reputable) media outlets, rather than distributing the video, they simply state that they have passed it on to international police agencies, but refrain from publicising it due to the upsetting nature of the content (by the way, this is precisely how it would be dealt with by agencies, such as the BBC, whose actions and ethics are governed by external bodies), how would you view posts from people who then state that they don't accept the JREF's word, and want to see the video for themselves, to 'make it real' for them? Would you view such requests with some suspicion? I would.

- to provide a better understanding: as above - if the JREF had dealt with this video appropriately, and passed it to the police, tell me how you would view a poster replying, "I want to see the video for myself, so that I can get a better understanding of your struggle in describing it". We both know what we would think of such a request, and it would by no means justify the JREF making the video publicly available.

In response to your specific question directed at me, I can honestly answer that it has not instilled me to do anything about it, and I'm sure that applies to you too (at least you didn't describe any, and I feel sure you would have mentioned it by now). Whilst this humbles me, the reason, as I'm sure is the case for you too, is that I feel too removed and too impotent to know how anything I could reasonably do would impact the situation. This, is where the case differs from the Till case - showing the images in that situation impacted directly on people whose lives were immediately involved, and could take immediate action. This is not the case here. There are many things I read in the newspapers, and see on TV, which I know, in my reality at least, I can do nothing about, and is the same reason you have done nothing either.

As I said, that's my last contribution to the debate. I've made my point, and I think justified and clarified it as best I'm able, and any further contributions would simply be further repetition.
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@Gazcam
written by Todd W., November 05, 2009
Thank you for your response. I'll try to keep my reply brief.

- morbid curiosity: Those viewing it for this reason, I would agree, are being gratuitous, and in the case of your example, pretty sick.

- stirring to action: Should they have passed it on to other outlets? Perhaps. Did they? We don't know. Whether they did or not, they are spreading the information about it, reaching a broader audience than just the other outlet(s) alone. And, suppose that they passed it along to a different outlet, which then refused it. Should the JREF then take no action at all? Isn't there a moral obligation to inform people of such things, regardless of whether they state the stirring to action as a reason or not?

- to make it real: If the video was not already there, and a person requested to see it, yes, I would be skeptical. But that is a very different scenario than what we have here. The real point of my comment, though, was not so much for the average JREF reader, but more those who callously disregard a written account. Take someone who casually argues that witchcraft is real and that they should be punished (or, given your example, that the way to exorcise a demon is to "plant the seed"). A JREF reader may point that person to this article. They may blithely dismiss the written word with excuses because there is no (or less) emotional impact. However, the video could be what makes that person pause and reconsider their beliefs. And to tie it back to the Till photos, simply because you feel so removed from the situation does not mean that everyone reading the text or viewing the video is. Those who are affected by this (e.g., family, friends involved) might be very grateful that the JREF is paying attention to this where the major outlets ignore it. And, I could imagine that those who do feel that way would be extremely offended at your posts.

- to provide a better understanding: Again, you are altering the scenario significantly. If a person requested a video that was not posted, it would be more akin to the morbid curiosity. I would not necessarily rank this motive for viewing an already-posted video as particularly noble by any stretch of the imagination, but if/when the viewer discusses this with others, the greater level of understanding may help them convey what they could not after reading the words alone.

As to whether or not JREF should publish something like a video of rape, that runs into not only a question of degree as to where the line should be drawn, but also into legal ramifications. Videos such as the burning may not run afoul of local laws, but I am pretty sure that an unedited video of a rape would.

At any rate, both videos would be horrible. I am not trying to defend that. What I am trying to show, however, is that your argument that anyone watching the video does so "gratuitous[ly], and for [their] own morbid enjoyment, nothing more [emphasis added]" is false. There are other reasons. You may not agree with them, but your excoriating others is rather shortsighted.

As to my own actions, I have not watched the video and probably won't. Likewise, I probably would not watch a video of a rape. While I have not taken any actions and probably won't (I'm lazy and, like you, feel like I would have little to no impact anyway), but it has gotten me thinking about what could be done. If I were to watch the video, it may prod me out of laziness and impotence enough to put more effort into figuring out how I could make a difference, no matter how small or insignificant.
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It wasn't that long ago that the good people of the colony that thought of itself as a "City upon a hill" were hanging and pressing those they believed to be witches!
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written by replica watches uk, January 03, 2011
Perhaps. Did they? We don't know. Whether they did or not, they are spreading the information about it, reaching a broader audience than just the other outlet(s) alone. And, suppose that they passed it along to a different outlet, which then refused it. Should the JREF then take no action at all? Isn't there a moral obligation to inform people of such things, regardless of whether they state the stirring to action as a reason or not?
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