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Montreal Teacher Suspended for Showing Snuff Film


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  #21  
June 16th, 2012, 12:46 AM
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^^I was watching a show on the History Channel a few years back. They were showing footage of mass executions in China. I can't even remember what decade they were taking place. It is something that I still can't get out of my head. I am sure that it is nothing compared to what is in the video that teacher showed to the students, and that's before the pornography aspect is brought into it. What really baffles me is that only three students objected to the teacher playing the video.
I was just wondering something kind of along these same lines. I agree that it was beyond reprehensible for this teacher to show these students this particular video. However, as a history teacher, I have on multiple occasions in the past showed my students equally gruesome photos of atrocities that were committed during events such as the Holocaust, the Rape of Nanjing, the Cambodian genocide, etc. These photos are of real, actual victims -- often women and young children -- who in many cases were disemboweled, dismembered, and mutilated after (or even prior to) their murders. It's actually very common for these types of photos to be included in history books. I also know of historical documentaries that show video footage of Japanese soldiers beheading Chinese civilians in front of mass graves, though I personally have not showed my students those clips.

What, really, is the difference between these kinds of photos/video footage and the snuff film that was shown? In both cases the victims are real human beings who are entitled to dignity and respect, and who did not personally consent to having their photos shown. I agree absolutely that this teacher should have been fired for what he did -- but where is the line drawn? Is it ever appropriate for scenes of real human violence to be shown to students? Or is it that, if you happened to have been tortured and murdered during one random individual act of violence, you're entitled to your privacy, but if you were tortured and murdered as part of a large-scale historical incident, your body becomes communal property and your photo becomes just another "primary source"?

I still don't know what I think about all of this, but now I'm wondering....
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  #22  
June 16th, 2012, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Quantum_Leap View Post
I was just wondering something kind of along these same lines. I agree that it was beyond reprehensible for this teacher to show these students this particular video. However, as a history teacher, I have on multiple occasions in the past showed my students equally gruesome photos of atrocities that were committed during events such as the Holocaust, the Rape of Nanjing, the Cambodian genocide, etc. These photos are of real, actual victims -- often women and young children -- who in many cases were disemboweled, dismembered, and mutilated after (or even prior to) their murders. It's actually very common for these types of photos to be included in history books. I also know of historical documentaries that show video footage of Japanese soldiers beheading Chinese civilians in front of mass graves, though I personally have not showed my students those clips.

What, really, is the difference between these kinds of photos/video footage and the snuff film that was shown? In both cases the victims are real human beings who are entitled to dignity and respect, and who did not personally consent to having their photos shown. I agree absolutely that this teacher should have been fired for what he did -- but where is the line drawn? Is it ever appropriate for scenes of real human violence to be shown to students? Or is it that, if you happened to have been tortured and murdered during one random individual act of violence, you're entitled to your privacy, but if you were tortured and murdered as part of a large-scale historical incident, your body becomes communal property and your photo becomes just another "primary source"?

I still don't know what I think about all of this, but now I'm wondering....
Who one earth said that victims of the Holocaust were unworthy of respect in this conversation? Personally, I have never seen the graphic photos or videos you described in any history class in HS or college and, furthermore, I can't think of any reason it would be justified. I learned about the Holocaust and, granted, I remember seeing some morbid photos of bodies in gas chambers and mass graves but nothing to the extent of gore and I would deem that completely unnecessary. Obviously, there is NO historical relevance to the video of a porn star murdering, dismembering, having sex with and feeding his dog a person and, therefore, no justifiable excuse for showing to a class of teenagers. Honestly, if my child came home and told me about being shown disemboweled Holocaust victims or videos of beheadings, even though it is relevant to the lesson, I would be beyond pissed as well.

My senior year, we were given the chance to see the Zapruder film. Our parents had to sign permission slips and I did get to watch it and I was pretty traumatized by it, even though it was too far away to see details that would have made it "gory". The fact that I had witnessed the actual murder of a person disturbed me. We talked about the "magic bullet" and the second shooter theory and it was all interesting and I wasn't sorry I begged my parents to let me attend the assembly but I don't know if I would let my daughter view it, knowing what I know, because I think it would really bother her.
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  #23  
June 16th, 2012, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by JustJodes View Post
I'm very happy to hear he's been fired. However, now I'm just disturbed that some of these kids in the class said it was no big deal to watch it. My 6 year old is scared of Peter and The Wolf, how can a 15 year old watch an actual real live murder and think it's no big deal??? I cannot think of a single reason this video was shown to children especially. I could have maybe understood it being shown to adults in university but I still fail to see one single educational reason for showing a murder unless it was a forensics or criminology class.

Lynn, this case is ridiculous. Not only did he do what everyone has posted above, he posted the video to an online gore website (which I think should be illegal, but that's another debate) and then mailed some of the body parts. A hand and a foot were mailed to the head offices of two of the major Canadian political parties, the other hand and foot were mailed to two middle schools in Vancouver. The torso was found in a suitcase in his apartment and the head hasn't been found that I know of. Some seriously nasty stuff.

Furthermore, how is this video still available for public view? A hit Hollywood movie is pulled from the internet instantly and people are charged for having a cell phone with a camera in the theatre yet a simple Google search will get you an actual murder video. Nice priorities.
I agree wholeheartedly with your first paragraph. What the heck were these kids thinking? Are our children so desensitized to violence that they are now willing to want to watch the real stuff. I am typically pretty immune to a very emotional response with this kind of stuff, but it's because I hear about it everyday. I would hope that children would be horrified, not want to actually see it.
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  #24  
June 16th, 2012, 11:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quantum_Leap View Post
I was just wondering something kind of along these same lines. I agree that it was beyond reprehensible for this teacher to show these students this particular video. However, as a history teacher, I have on multiple occasions in the past showed my students equally gruesome photos of atrocities that were committed during events such as the Holocaust, the Rape of Nanjing, the Cambodian genocide, etc. These photos are of real, actual victims -- often women and young children -- who in many cases were disemboweled, dismembered, and mutilated after (or even prior to) their murders. It's actually very common for these types of photos to be included in history books. I also know of historical documentaries that show video footage of Japanese soldiers beheading Chinese civilians in front of mass graves, though I personally have not showed my students those clips.

What, really, is the difference between these kinds of photos/video footage and the snuff film that was shown? In both cases the victims are real human beings who are entitled to dignity and respect, and who did not personally consent to having their photos shown. I agree absolutely that this teacher should have been fired for what he did -- but where is the line drawn? Is it ever appropriate for scenes of real human violence to be shown to students? Or is it that, if you happened to have been tortured and murdered during one random individual act of violence, you're entitled to your privacy, but if you were tortured and murdered as part of a large-scale historical incident, your body becomes communal property and your photo becomes just another "primary source"?

I still don't know what I think about all of this, but now I'm wondering....
One big point is the difference between a photo and a video. A video of a torture/murder/rape in process is never appropriate. It shows details, while the person is alive, being tortured. I have never seen photos in history books that are even remotely comparable to the video being discussed.
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  #25  
June 16th, 2012, 01:09 PM
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Just because something was videotaped doesn't mean it's appropriate for someone to watch that videotape. Some things are not meant to be "recorded" in time, yet someone takes it upon themselves, without consent, to do such thing. Then it "leaks" into the media and then everyone with sick minds wants to see it. There is no reason to humiliate the dead person any more, and such evidence should only be used to convict a criminal, and then once all is said and done, destroyed. I think my family would be mortified if it were me who died in such a manner, if there was a tape recording that event. That's disgusting and not everything has to be out there for 'everyone to see'. I never once saw/heard of these things in "history class". We knew about major wars, watched war movies, even, but even Saving Private Ryan, for example, would NOT be allowed in our classrooms because it was TOO graphic. Even ADULTS who watched that were either offended or traumatized from it, especially those who were recently at war at the time of its release. I can't imagine, if that's banned, why anyone would think that snuff film was ok. It's bad enough when REAL PEOPLE INVOLVED go through the tragedies they go through....it's not right to make someone else live it by watching something so vivid and in this case, disgusting.
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  #26  
June 16th, 2012, 07:17 PM
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Who one earth said that victims of the Holocaust were unworthy of respect in this conversation? Personally, I have never seen the graphic photos or videos you described in any history class in HS or college and, furthermore, I can't think of any reason it would be justified. I learned about the Holocaust and, granted, I remember seeing some morbid photos of bodies in gas chambers and mass graves but nothing to the extent of gore and I would deem that completely unnecessary. Obviously, there is NO historical relevance to the video of a porn star murdering, dismembering, having sex with and feeding his dog a person and, therefore, no justifiable excuse for showing to a class of teenagers. Honestly, if my child came home and told me about being shown disemboweled Holocaust victims or videos of beheadings, even though it is relevant to the lesson, I would be beyond pissed as well.
It's difficult to debate the extent of the "gore" in each case without having actual photos or videos to compare, and since I'm absolutely not going to go sleuthing out the Luka Magnotta video to watch it, this is all just conjecture. However, I assure you that every photo that's remotely relevant to the Rape of Nanjing is quite graphic and disturbing. There are several in the Wikipedia article about it ("Nanking Massacre") if you're interested in forming your own assessment. Moreover, there are many showcased in the Nanjing Massacre Museum, where it's common for Chinese high school students to be taken on field trips. In the Tuol Sleng Museum, which honors the victims of the Cambodian genocide, there was, until recently, a wall map of Cambodia composed entirely of human skulls taken from real victims of the genocide. I've shown my students photos of that map, and other disturbing photos, which were included in the memoir To Destroy You is No Loss (which I had my students read).

In my personal experience, while the Holocaust is taught extensively in most American public high schools, the atrocities that occurred in East Asia tend to be underemphasized. I've only taught in private high schools, where those incidents were very much a part of the curriculum. Moreover, I'm of the opinion that it's tremendously important for our citizenry to be explicitly taught about these sorts of tragedies, if we are truly to live by the slogan of "Never Again." Genocides continue to happen in the modern era precisely because those who are in a position to do something about it don't remember and don't care. Being exposed to a photograph during your formative years might help you to remember -- might help you to care. It's certainly more likely to have a long-term impact on your conscience than a written account would. Personally, I think it's worth it for students to see these types of photos. They need to know what really happened. They should be disturbed -- the incidents were disturbing! They should be inspired to action.

On the other hand, I, too, would be appalled if my children had been shown the Luka Magnotta video. So I'm left asking: What, exactly, is the difference? Is it because the photos of the historical incidents are in black and white? Or because they're only photographs and not video? Those differences might make the photographs less shocking, but I don't think that they necessarily involve any more respect for the victim. Perhaps it's because many of these victims were nameless? We don't know who the photographs are really of, so it's okay for them to be shown? I still don't know. The only conclusion I can come to is that I should discuss this very issue with my students and have them debate about it.
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  #27  
June 16th, 2012, 07:31 PM
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I can't pinpoint the reasoning either, but it seems a very easy decision to me. Maybe it's the historical value? video vs. photo? I don't know the answer to that to be honest, it just seems simple.
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  #28  
June 16th, 2012, 08:30 PM
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I think it's because the holocaust and rape of Nanking and other such things were perpetrated by large numbers of people/government against large numbers of people and had a massive impact on history. This 1 guy is just some random sicko. We didn't learn about individual sickos in high school, I guess because the lack of impact against society at large and because it can't be prevented from happening again. There's always going to be an Ed Gein or Jeffry Dahmer, Ted Bundy or John Wayne Gacy and we can't really stop that.
But the rise of political parties who are willing to commit genocide is something we can watch for by knowing the warning signs from having learned about such regimes in the past, or fight against once we know it's going on if we missed the warning signs.
I also don't remember seeing a whole lot of graphic images in high school. I'm trying to recall what images we saw but I just can't remember. I know in 9th grade we read Stolen Years and then watched Escape From Sobibor, but I think that's as gruesome as it got, and even at that the movie didn't show actual archival footage. I know we saw films that showed photos of people packed into rail cars and lined up at camps but I don't think we were shown anyone nude or dead. We got detailed descriptions though, so even without pictures we knew how serious it was. In the book Stolen Years the author wrote that when the Russian Army got to their camp and saw how emaciated and skeletal the prisoners were some of the soldiers vomited. That stuck out to me. I didn't need to see pictures of it.
I don't know. I'm not against showing pictures of the holocaust and so on. I feel there is educational value to it in the sense of saying "look how an entire army of people were willing to act and what they were willing to do to other humans at the command of a mad man" as opposed to "check out what this mentally ill person did to this one other person." They're just 2 totally different things in my mind. I don't know if that's right or wrong, just how I feel about it.
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  #29  
June 16th, 2012, 08:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Quantum_Leap View Post
On the other hand, I, too, would be appalled if my children had been shown the Luka Magnotta video. So I'm left asking: What, exactly, is the difference? Is it because the photos of the historical incidents are in black and white? Or because they're only photographs and not video? Those differences might make the photographs less shocking, but I don't think that they necessarily involve any more respect for the victim. Perhaps it's because many of these victims were nameless? We don't know who the photographs are really of, so it's okay for them to be shown? I still don't know. The only conclusion I can come to is that I should discuss this very issue with my students and have them debate about it.
I think the question you're posing is interesting...I think perhaps the difference is that often in a war context these photos are of unidentified people and the showing of them is to help the greater good (prevent future atrocities)? I do think video is subtly different than photos - i for example wouldn't be a supporter of having students watch some of the beheadings of American soldiers, but I agree with you that photos can be deeply disturbing themselves.

I'll think on this some more. I think also that when something is less recent (decades ago, hundred years ago) that oddly it seems less invasive of the victims privacy - not that it is less invasive.

I never saw it but felt similarly conflicted about the filming of the suicide jumpers on the Golden Gate Bridge - it feels too close, too personal to watch someone's last minutes, to me at least

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  #30  
June 17th, 2012, 12:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Quantum_Leap View Post
It's difficult to debate the extent of the "gore" in each case without having actual photos or videos to compare, and since I'm absolutely not going to go sleuthing out the Luka Magnotta video to watch it, this is all just conjecture. However, I assure you that every photo that's remotely relevant to the Rape of Nanjing is quite graphic and disturbing. There are several in the Wikipedia article about it ("Nanking Massacre") if you're interested in forming your own assessment. Moreover, there are many showcased in the Nanjing Massacre Museum, where it's common for Chinese high school students to be taken on field trips. In the Tuol Sleng Museum, which honors the victims of the Cambodian genocide, there was, until recently, a wall map of Cambodia composed entirely of human skulls taken from real victims of the genocide. I've shown my students photos of that map, and other disturbing photos, which were included in the memoir To Destroy You is No Loss (which I had my students read).

In my personal experience, while the Holocaust is taught extensively in most American public high schools, the atrocities that occurred in East Asia tend to be underemphasized. I've only taught in private high schools, where those incidents were very much a part of the curriculum. Moreover, I'm of the opinion that it's tremendously important for our citizenry to be explicitly taught about these sorts of tragedies, if we are truly to live by the slogan of "Never Again." Genocides continue to happen in the modern era precisely because those who are in a position to do something about it don't remember and don't care. Being exposed to a photograph during your formative years might help you to remember -- might help you to care. It's certainly more likely to have a long-term impact on your conscience than a written account would. Personally, I think it's worth it for students to see these types of photos. They need to know what really happened. They should be disturbed -- the incidents were disturbing! They should be inspired to action.

On the other hand, I, too, would be appalled if my children had been shown the Luka Magnotta video. So I'm left asking: What, exactly, is the difference? Is it because the photos of the historical incidents are in black and white? Or because they're only photographs and not video? Those differences might make the photographs less shocking, but I don't think that they necessarily involve any more respect for the victim. Perhaps it's because many of these victims were nameless? We don't know who the photographs are really of, so it's okay for them to be shown? I still don't know. The only conclusion I can come to is that I should discuss this very issue with my students and have them debate about it.
How is the video that this teacher showed his students relevant to a history class? You keep referring to portrayals and documentations of historical events and atrocities but this video being shown is not analogous to any historically relevant event. So, if you can give any justification for this video to be shown to a 10th grade class when it had ZERO to do with ANY history curriculum (at this school or any other school across the planet) then please let me know.
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  #31  
June 17th, 2012, 02:42 AM
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How is the video that this teacher showed his students relevant to a history class? You keep referring to portrayals and documentations of historical events and atrocities but this video being shown is not analogous to any historically relevant event. So, if you can give any justification for this video to be shown to a 10th grade class when it had ZERO to do with ANY history curriculum (at this school or any other school across the planet) then please let me know.
That is NOT what I'm saying AT ALL! In fact, that's precisely my point! The Rape of Nanjing is historically relevant. Luka Magnotta is not. However, the rights of the victim are (or should be) the same in each case. So, are we essentially saying that a victim's right to privacy can be overridden as long as there's historical/pedagogical justification for it? In other words, if I'm unlucky enough to die during a historical atrocity, then, to add insult to injury, my body becomes communal property, and images of it can be used at the discretion of any future educator who wishes to make a point? Doesn't seem fair.
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  #32  
June 17th, 2012, 11:00 AM
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Good questions Molly and I see your point but I don't agree that viewing a picture or a few pictures is the same as watching a video. As horrible as it is to see pictures of a murder scene, its much worse to watch that murder happen and its definitely not appropriate for a 10th grade classroom.
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  #33  
June 18th, 2012, 06:46 AM
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Good questions Molly and I see your point but I don't agree that viewing a picture or a few pictures is the same as watching a video. As horrible as it is to see pictures of a murder scene, its much worse to watch that murder happen and its definitely not appropriate for a 10th grade classroom.
I agree. My point was just that the grounds for objecting to the showing of the Luka Magnotta video has to be something other than "victim's rights." Because that objection doesn't hold -- not in every instance.
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