Journalism and violence
The right to know or the need to edit: Gaddafi's last words & video
I found out about the death of Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi when I was sitting inside of a Tesla Model S in a shiny new mall showroom made to look like an Apple Store. Back in my own car, I listened to radio reports of Libyan ex-pats on the BBC program World Have Your Say, who discussed the benefits of having killed the violent and erratic dictator rather than detaining him.
Much more knowledgeable international affairs experts than myself can give you the play-by-play details of the dictator's capture and subsequent death. In short, NATO air forces bombed a convoy just west of Sirte, Gaddafi's hometown. Ground troops found a wounded Gaddafi and several supporters hiding in a nearby sewage pipe, and they pulled him out.
The body quickly became a chilling tourist attraction, with hundreds of Libyans lining up outside the meat locker to get a look. As people were let in, many took cellphone camera photos of themselves with the body and danced around it.
Interim Libyan prime minister Mahmoud Jibril of the National Transitional Councilclaimed that the dictator died from wounds suffered in crossfire between his supporters and revolutionaries, but video (watch below if you wish, but it's disturbing) and photographs taken after Gaddafi's capture show otherwise.
In the widely-circulated video, an armed and angry mob, shouting "Allah akbar," drags a bloody Gaddafi along the street. The excited crowd and the jostling camera prevent much insight into what happens after. Whatever the case, gunshots are heard. Al Jazeera posted another video, presumably taken shortly thereafter, of a bloody Gaddafi lying in the street.
On Friday, Gaddafi's body awaited interment in a shopping center freezer, where an AP reporter noted visible bullet holes in his head, chest and stomach. The body quickly became a chilling tourist attraction, with hundreds of Libyans lining up outside the meat locker to get a look. As people were let in, many took cellphone camera photos of themselves with the body and danced around it, according to reports.
It also emerged Friday that Gaddafi's last words, spoken to the blood-thirsty crowd that jostled and dragged him, "Do you know what is right or wrong?"
The United Nations and two separate human rights organizations are calling for an investigation into Gaddafi's death.
Gaddafi and his family were known for some oddities (like the Colonel's unnatural obsession with former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who Qaddafi referred to as an "African princess") and their extravagance (spending millions on private performances by Beyoncé, Usher, Nelly Furtado and more) but brutal violence and oppression were the hallmarks of his rule. Gaddafi's 42-year-reign saw innumerable human rights violations, the merciless killing of citizens and dissidents, the plundering of state funds and resources.
Did such a violent leader deserve a more humane death? Is it right for media outlets to post the gruesome videos and grizzly photos of Gaddafi? What would a United Nations investigation hope to solve?
This is a video that's left even more questions than answers.
Warning: The video is graphic and violent and is not appropriate for children.