Yet another double standard

A while back the news was flooded with stories of David Carradine’s death in Thailand. The cause, the family’s grief, the ongoing investigation – the whole nine yards associated with any death. One article in particular stuck out. After a prominent Thai newspaper released photos of the Carradine’s body, there were outcries of insensitivity. How insensitive of the Thai media to publish those photos without any respect to the deceased’s family grief!

Yesterday the news focus story was on the drug cartel crisis in Mexico and how it affects American and Canadians. There have been numerous killings – eight alone yesterday – some execution style: crucification, beheadings, hangings.

How do I know this? Because I seen it. A crucified man, with a grotesque mask over his head. Another, hung by his neck off a bridge. Bodies, uncovered, strewn on the pavement. Clips of family members grieving.

I wonder if the Canadian journalists asked the grieving family members whether or not they could broadcast those photos first? And, if these were shown in America, did they ask permission?

Or do Mexicans not have the same feelings and reactions North Americans do?

Anybody would deny that. So, this begs the question: why is there a violent reaction to publishing the photos of a dead American celebrity, but not countless photos of murdered Mexican men? Why is showing photos of mutilated Mexican bodies bagging a hard hitting story, but the dead body of an American celebrity insensitivity?

This is not an isolated example. How many dead bodies do we see on the news? Both at home and abroad. If someone has a bone to pick with the media over its insensitivity, they should realize this is not a Thai problem. It’s the MO of media all over the globe… and people should look no further than their own backyards. “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Ghandi.

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13 Comments

Filed under Canada, Head-Bangers, Ignorance, News, Rant

13 responses to “Yet another double standard

  1. I saw the same thing you saw last night on CBC. You have to understand the context behind why they were showing what they were showing.

    People really do not have an idea as to how bad Mexico is getting. It is getting to the point where the country is starting to turn into another Afghanistan in that the state is starting to lose its grasp on power and losing its monopoly on violence and therefore nullifying its actual statehood. Just as Afghanistan is being ruled by war and drug lords, Mexico is starting to be ruled by the same non state actors.

    The piece you saw last night was essentially in the form of a documentary. Documentaries generally show graphic images as a means of bringing a point across. In this case, I would justify showing the images of those dead people because the brutal fashion of how they were murdered goes to illustrate just how horrid the situation is. And more importantly, those images will actually get people to pay attention to whats going on there. Because the sad reality is nobody in North America knows just exactly how bad it is in Mexico.

    People need brutal and explicit images and messages to attract their attention. If they’re attention is not highlighted, they don’t care and will not be aware.

    M2C…

  2. Hmm.. I see your point. I may have overlooked the fact that the two cases – Carradine’s death and the Mexico killings – are fundamentally different. But my point wasn’t that death shouldn’t be shown to the public. On the contrary, I realize the need for people to be aware of what happens in our world, even though it’s not pretty at times. Like during the siege on Gaza. The death of so many wasn’t pretty, and it definitely wasn’t something we *wanted* to see. But people *needed* to see it, they had to know what was going on. But I believe that there are underlying issues with deeper implications here. I hate to say this, but there really is a distinction between North American/Western European people and the rest of the world. That’s what I find disturbing.

    Besides, the emphasis of the documentary last night seemed to be on “how it affects American and Canadians” more than it was about the corruption of the Mexican government, police force, and possibly the militia.

    Opps. Gtg, to work. Will say more when I get back =)

  3. In what way are NA/WE people different from the rest of the world?

    The drug trade has direct effects on the rest of NA and indeed other parts of the world. One, The United States is perhaps the largest market of hard drugs in the entire world. This perpetuates the drug and gang wars within the United States and also permeates the borders into Canada. Calgary has become gang active especially in the past seven years or so which has been fueled by the greater drug war. These drugs make their way to Calgary via Vancouver, a port city. These drugs come to Vancouver from The United States via Mexico. And the funny thing is, these drugs make their way into Mexico via Afghanistan.

    It doesn’t stop there. Since the War in Afghanistan started in 2001, the US market has been flooded with cocaine and heroine (Afghanistan Via Mexico) and a lot of those drugs have made their way into Canada. The ironic thing is these Canadians and Americans that buy their cocaine and heroine are actually funding the Taliban and other actors in Afghanistan that sell these drugs. These funds go towards funding terror and resistance operations in Afghanistan against Canadian and American forces.

    So you may have some problems with the premise of the documentary but how these drug cartels affect greater North America is of great concern because they have affect so many facets of our society.

    I realize I’ve strayed away from the original issue that you brought up so I’ll wait for your reply.

  4. K here’s my more:

    About documentaries. Earlier on in the week, there was a documentary about Canada selling asbestos – a harmful substance – to India. I don’t know if you seen it, but asbestos was once gold in Canada, but when the negative, life-threatening effects it had on people became known, its many uses were stopped. It’s still mined in Eastern Canada though, and exported to developing nations such as China and India. Canada is, in fact, the second largest exporter of asbestos.

    Do you see where I’m going with this? If it’s not good enough to be used here, and it’s been proven to have long-lasting negative effects, why is it being shipped carelessly across the globe? Isn’t there a moral obligation by Canada – a developed nation – to not spread it? And doesn’t this kind of mirror the drug crisis in Mexico in the sense that harmful substances are exported – be it legally or illegally – in order to turn a profit?

    And while the drug cartels in Mexico are having numerous negative affects on North America and Calgary in particular, I *still felt that that shouldn’t have been the main focus of the documentary. The situation in Canada – at least – is much, much better than that of Mexico, which is, like you said, rapidly deteriorating into another Afghanistan. Furthermore, during the documentary a journalist was saying that one of the root causes of the drug crisis was the free trade agreement between the US, Canada, and Mexico, which threw the Mexican economy off kilter with the influx of American products it caused. To top it off, the drugs are coming from Afghanistan, a country where one of the main reasons for its corruption is, in fact, American involvement.

    So you have America, Canada, and Mexico paying the price. But Mexico’s price is much higher, and so North America shouldn’t be concerning itself with how is affects them, so much as how they can help resolve the issue – which they helped create, and would also benefit from the resolution of.

    Furthermore, the issue of Afghanistan touched on a much larger point: the multiple wastelands America has left behind after its many, many wars. Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq: all examples of countries that were shamelessly used to further America’s purposes and then discarding with out a second thought once it was finished with them. Think the ‘war on terror’ which totally backfired and bred even more terror and hate, escalating the problem. Shall you reap what you sow, or what?

    Back at you =P

  5. I think I am beginning to understand what you mean.

    Ive never heard of a Canadian company exporting asbestos but if there is such a company doing so, it should obviously look into it. Im not going to disagree with the majority of what you have said but Im going to raise a few issues to counter yours.

    You said that Canada has a moral obligation as do other countries. This may be true but what is moral and what is not moral, what is legal and what is not legal is all relative. In Iran right now its illegal to gather together and protest but people are still doing it. Laws and regulation can only hold people back to a certain extent and when there are ways of circumventing those laws and rules, people will do what they need to do. Morals and the like are drastically different in the developing world than they are in the first world.

    You also said that the US and Canada should step in and assist Mexico in rooting out corruption. At the end of the day, any sort of corruption that occurs in a state is an internal matter and the US and Canada have no right to meddle in the internal affairs of another sovereign country. In Mexico, corruption is not the real problem, its the demand of the market for drugs that fuels the problem. If one wishes to get rid of the corruption in Mexico, get rid of the demand for Cocaine in their own backyard.

  6. Interesting post and discussion between you two. Thanks for letting me read your conversation. 🙂

  7. Interesting points ;). I’m not quite sure what would constitute as constructive meddling. Looking back at all the countries I mentioned earlier, I can see the negative and downward spiral that results from one country meddling in the affairs of another. But at the same time I kind of feel that they have a moral obligation do so if they’re part of the initial problem. I mean, with Iraq. Should America leave it as it is? Isn’t that creating – yet another – Afghanistan and thus escalating rather than resolving the problem? Or would further meddling lead to even more problems? And that hardly seems fair!

    And I agree that laws and regulations are relevant. But, at the same time, I believe it’s only to a certain extent. I mean there are certain laws that are unstated but are pancultural. For example: cause no harm to others. While there may be countries that have a different take on what constitutes as harm – ex: the eye for an eye policy in Iran would be completely unacceptable in Canada for example – the general idea of not initiating harm is still present.

    Buuttt that’s kind of where I see the golden rule coming into effect: treat others the way you want to be treated. Or, slightly modified, treat others, judge others, and deal with others, according to the standards you deal with treat and judge yourselves. So in this case, Canada and America wouldn’t have to be directly involved in the crisis, but as they helped perpetrate it – America especially – some intervention on the part of the leaders might be necessary. That intervention doesn’t have to come in the form of an invasion, or blocking the trade agreement or anything. But it could, for example, come in the form of maybe taking a firmer stance on drugs in their own country, which would discourage smugglers?

    And I know I’ve strayed into an idealistic world, one which, unfortunately, has no bearing on the one we live in. So that’s not what we need. We need a practical solution, especially for the sake of the people who are suffering most because of the crisis. So I don’t know. Is there a solution???

  8. You are right, there is “meddling” that is mutually beneficial to both parties. For example, after the US dropped a nuclear bomb on Japan, it was mainly the US that helped build the country into what it is today. The US was also a major player in helping Europe rebuild after the devastating war there. Moreover, foreign aid and peacekeeping in its various manifestations is another example of how multi-state intervention is used for the most part as an intrinsic form of assistance.

    Charles de Gaulle of France once said that no nations have friends, they only have interests. 99% of state intervention vis a vis another state isn’t for the intrinsic good, it’s because one state has interest that needs to be fulfilled. A classic example of that is the case of Pakistan. Every time the US has intervened in the affairs of Pakistan, it was because the US had an interest in the region. This happened during Zia ul Haq’s time and it happened during Musharraf’s time and its happening now in Zardari’s time. There is always a price for meddling in the affairs of another nation-state.

    Morals are all relative. They are relative to the time, the situation and the context. The US always adhered to the notion and were in fact proud of the notion that they don’t torture. But yet, you had people who were tortured during the Vietnam war advocating and justifying torturing people even on the remote suspicion that they were terrorists (i.e Mahar Arar, a Canadian). You are right in the sense that there are universal morals but in a time and context where one’s morals are working against them, they are easily violated. This is true in many other respects as well, religion, politics, diplomacy, policy and others. Morals serve as a good foundation but its hard to erect a whole structure based on those morals. If you recall in the 70s and 80s the US facilitated (or at the very least turned a blind eye) do drug trafficking by one, Manuel Noriega who was acting as an agent and had a contractual relationship with the CIA. The US ignored all the “bad” stuff he was doing because they thought he was helping them fight the communists in that region. It wasn’t until they suspected him of being a double agent, working for both the communists AND the US that they arrested him and threw him in jail where he sits to this day.

    Now in the case of Mexico and countering the drug insurgency, the US has in fact (to their credit) taken a number of steps to help fight the war on drugs. They have given the Mexican government roughly 10 million dollars (If I am not wrong) to upgrade their borders (on the Mexican side) with respect to installing specific technologies to sniff out drugs, have better staffing at the border and tackling general logistic issues that the border faces. Moreover, the FBI has played a role in fighting drug cartels face to face and as well have dedicated a lot of resources to better train officials in Mexico vis a vis battling the drug war. The US has dedicated a lot of resources in Columbia as well in this respect; helping officials there battle the various cartels that have pillaged that country.

    At the end of the day, you can have all the policy and legislation you want but the nature of the drug industry is as such that there is always going to be a market for it. The drug industry has become so immense and has evolved so such a degree that it near unstoppable. The amount of money and resources that is required to fight drugs is literally infinite. If you were to one day sit down and study the economics of dugs, your mind would literally be blown away. I can’t even describe it in words. Its almost akin to the weapons trade. You will never get rid of drugs and you will never get rid of smugglers. The best thing you can do is create conditions in your country where the need for drugs is diminished. And even then, drugs appear and are rampant. Those that are rich, successful, happy do drugs. A more practical solution is to regulate drug use and tax it. But that can only work with certain soft drugs like Marijuana. Nobody would be dumb enough to regulate Heroine for example.

    The war on drugs is a war that is never going to be won. Its inherent nature is as such that no victors will ever be born out of that war. It was a failed war when it because and it will be a failed war 200 years from now. But it’s a war that will be fought and should be fought until eternity. Why? Because too much is at steak. At least this way you know what the monster looks like and what it is capable of doing.

    • We’ve strayed off topic quite a bit, what with starting off discussing the possibility of racial superiority and ending off here. But, I have to concede the last points to you. I have been labelled idealistic, and I admit to it freely. I do believe that humans are inherently good, and will remain so if they take measures to nurture that goodness. But, unfortunately, idealism rarely if ever translates into realism, and so my points are moot. That said, as I believe in initiating the change you want to see, I will continue to operate on that basis, and pray for the best I guess!

      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with me! You have a very interesting, well-thought out take on many issues. I look forward to hearing more from you in the future, Student =)

  9. Dude. Whoa. I need some time to formulate my response 😉
    Get back to you soon, iA!

  10. Never cease to be idealistic. We need that in this world because it is exactly that that gives people direction that leads us to goodness. I wish sometimes I was more idealistic.

    No worries my friend; I crave these kinds of conversations. I as well look forward to hearing more from you. Inshallah we’ll run into each other on campus this year as well.

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