Ethics & Morality

Daily Mail terror porn – your daily dose of Islamic State propaganda

 

“WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT”, screeches the Daily Mail – virtually every day – as it displays the heinous horrors being visited upon Christians, Yazidis and apostate Muslims by ISIS / ISIL / Islamic State / Daesh on what is undoubtedly (and horrifically) a daily basis. But despite (or because of?) the upper case warning, we click and gawp. It’s terror porn on tap – hardcore, full-frontal, indecent and obscene.

Of course these stories must be told: it is imperative that the world hears that the streets of Raqqa are littered with battered and bloodstained bodies hanging on crosses; of the jihadi butchers who behead and dismember ‘spies’ and ‘apostates’; of the brutality of child rape; of the barbarism of women being chained together and marched to a sickening sex slave market; of gays being hurled from towers and then stoned by a baying mob, just to make sure.

But these Islamist devils are savvy and sophisticated: they use social media like Luther used Gutenberg’s printing press. Protestant truth was spread by paper, ink and movable type. Islamist evil is being spread via Twitter, Skype, Facebook and YouTube. It is one thing to report the hell of Iraq and the evils being perpetrated throughout the Middle East, but it is quite another to become part of a propaganda machine and so complicit in its theo-political cause.

That is not to say that we ought never to be shown pictures of captives with shaven heads wearing orange jumpsuits. It is not to say that we should censor images of the likes of Jihadi John wielding his scythe, or of black-clad executioners ranged against a backdrop of sun, surf and sand, waiting to turn the sea red with blood of martyrs.

But do we need to be shown – virtually every day – the bloodbaths of beheadings and hacked-off limbs? Do we need to see severed heads with pixelated eyes impaled on railings? Do we need to be shown caged men being lowered into a swimming pool to drown? Or caged and doused in petrol to be burned alive? Or sitting in flaming car with a mortar gun aimed at it? Or kneeling in a line, linked by necklaces of explosives which flare up like Roman candles? Do we really need to be offered these visual abominations every day?

“It is like a waterfall of blood,” says Abu Ibrahim, a Raqqa resident and witness to the weekly punishments. “There are more and more executions and now the children watch like they are used to it.” Just like our own children log on to the Internet and ogle porn. And familiarity breeds contempt.

The Islamic State has a media mission beyond terrorising the world: they are using the Internet as a call to prayer for the worldwide Ummah; a rallying cry to inspire support with promises of adventure and romance to gain new recruits to the Holy War of Allah. And young, bored, disillusioned Muslims – of both sexes – are clearly attracted by the savagery and depravity of authentic Islam: to be able to follow in the literal footsteps of Mohammed sure beats maths homework, doing the washing up or kicking a football around.

But each and every time the Daily Mail disseminates Islamic State propaganda, they facilitate the brainwashing of the next generation. Terror porn is an Islamist tool of re-education: if you can’t see the real thing in Raqqa, just log on to MailOnline and there you will not only be able to read of murders, mass graves, torture and rape, but beam at it in all its masturbatory glory. And terror porn – like sex porn – is addictive. You just need your daily fix to satisfy a bodily urge. It’s comforting.

This isn’t a call for censorship or pious journalistic holiness, but restraint. The Daily Mail has a duty to report news and comment on events, but it has become as obsessed with terror porn as teen boys are with sex porn. Neither is fiction: both involve real people who become real victims. We can dispute the thresholds of indecency and cavil about the morality of the Daily Mail‘s range of visual improprieties, but, just as sex porn feeds lust and satisfies the urge to self-worship, terror porn breeds Islamist incest and traitorous adultery. All things are permitted, but not everything is beneficial. As St Paul wrote: ‘All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not‘ (1Cor 10:23).

Paul Dacre is no saint, but would he have published a constant stream of pictures of Jews in 1940 being marched to the ovens? Perhaps, and maybe it would have been no bad thing to tell the world of the truth of Nazi evil. But would Paul Dacre have shown Jews about to be choked to death on prussic acid? Or being burned alive in vast vats of boiling oil? Or stitched together back-to-back as part of a gruesome ‘twins’ experiment? No? Then don’t the agonised and grieving victims of Islamic State deserve the same dignity as they suffer, pray and prepare to meet their Maker?