Queen's University — Since 1873
26th June 2012

Magnotta video treads fine line

Alleged recording of murder and dismemberment leads our panelists to debate how much gore is too much

(Graphic by Ali Zahid)

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Marie-Pier Guay, M.A.‘13

German authorities arrested Luka Rocco Magnotta, the main suspect in a gruesome Montreal murder at a Berlin Internet café at the end of an international manhunt.

Magnotta was extradited back to Canada on June 18 and is facing several criminal charges including first-degree murder of Jun Lin.

An alleged video of the murder and dismemberment was shared on the Internet, resulting in gross misuse of technology and disrespect to the victim.

The video shouldn’t have been given as much widespread attention as if it were ‘Call Me Maybe’.

When it comes to striking criminal actions such as in the Magnotta case, various forms of media such as the video shouldn’t be used for entertainment purposes.

It’s a realm that only the authorities should use as a way to monitor a certain situation.

Linking his case to technological misuse, the alleged murder video wrongly appealed to and still appeals to an audience that feels entitled for this form of entertainment.

What good exactly did a Montreal teacher expect when showing this video in class? What is there to learn or experience from the video? Whereas this media should have remained a private piece of evidence for the authorities.

Social media websites for instance, appeal to most because we can exercise our right to freedom of speech and expression. Mark Marek, owner of ‘Best Gore’, a website that hosts gory videos did go to the police with the video, but the authorities did not consider the video credible.

Marek stated the purpose of his website was “educating” the public on the morbid capacities of human nature. But, he had no right to post the video in the first place.

When the argument of freedom of speech and expression has been used to justify the existence of the video in public domain, the victim and his family are placed on the backburner.

What about them? They have no input into the everlasting exposure of this video, because of course nothing ever gets erased once uploaded on the web.

In another case involving explicit media, Quebec filmmaker Remy Couture has been awaiting his trial for the past three years on the counts of corrupting morals through possession, production and distribution of material deemed obscene by way of depicting a fictional psychopathic murderer and rapist in extreme graphic ways.

Couture recently said in an interview with the Globe and Mail that “there are some people who appreciate these extremes. There’s a clientele for everything and people who want to watch.” In contrast to the Magnotta case, Couture’s produced a fictional film for an audience. Lin was murdered.

I consider fiction to be art; which therefore entails no criminal intent on the part of the filmmaker.

However, Best Gore instead presented the gruesome reality we allegedly know about today.

What’s disturbing is that there’s a growing audience and market for these types of extreme deviant actions to be seen on the small or big screen.

Are we now turning to reality rather than fiction in order to satisfy these needs? A line must be drawn somewhere between fiction and reality.

As people take part of a growing technological society, they must therefore critically review the purposes for which everyday technology is used.

Subtly, this entertainment tool entails a double-edged weapon as a form of surveillance because it’s always traceable.

There’s no doubt that today’s Western societies are increasingly dependent on technology and media, as demonstrated by the Magnotta case.

Perhaps Magnotta should’ve also reconsidered the value of how he last made use of technology since it ironically placed him in the café where he was caught researching himself.

On the other hand, throughout this entire case, authorities used technology more effectively; as a social control tool rather than for entertainment in order to apprehend their number one suspect.

In all, let’s respect the privacy of Lin’s family rather than perpetuating the circus show that Magnotta allegedly aimed to create in the first place.

Use technology wisely.

Christian Rojas, M.A.‘13

The alleged killing and dismembering of Jun Lin in Montreal by Luka Rocco Magnotta, has been a source of great controversy.

The displays of attention sought by Magnotta, (allegedly producing a video of the crime, having it go viral and mailing pieces of Lin’s body to different government offices and schools,) creates something unique in their own right.

The facts around this case question the regulations of technology and whether the public should be kept away from pieces of evidence like this one.

However, rather than going through cumbersome measures of regulation and surveillance, treating technology as an educational opportunity should be a key endeavour to better educate the public on issues of crime and crime commission.

Calling for regulations on the use of technology in certain situations by limiting it to police investigation is cumbersome.

Technology doesn’t cater to one specific population or deviant subculture.

Rather, it grows and moves forward everyday, hoping to appeal to anyone that can make a use of it. The fact that it’s often used to promote acts of criminality is something that is bound to happen, and impossible to regulate.

Perhaps, rather than regulate the results produced by the usage of technology, only making them available to police, criminalizing technology that assists in the committing of crimes would be a better tool.

It’s also important to note that as the world moves forward, so does entertainment. We’re moving from a world that years ago sought silent movies as the premiere form of entertainment to today where reality-oriented television is at the forefront.

This raises a question for the future; will “actual reality” become the main form of entertainment?

The move to actual reality forms of entertainment can be seen by the controversy surrounding Mark Marek, the owner of “Best Gore,” a website that specializes in reporting “on real events that take place at various places around the world.” Simply put, this site is where individuals can upload videos of actual gore.

It’d be speculative to say that the website is run for entertainment only. As Marek has reported, he wants to educate the public on the human condition through his website. It must be understood that social media websites cater to different groups of people, and thus, to place them all in one category is simply wrong.

The video contains elements that can be used as “partial” education tools. Criminologists are trained to understand different socio-structural and personal issues that lead to different types of criminal behaviour. Having a look at Magnotta’s familial and personal background, a number of criminological theories are able to explain the alleged crime.

When audiences untrained in criminology get a hold of this video, it becomes a partially educational experience.

The partial educational experience creates “tunnel vision” for the audience, as they are only exposed to the commission of an act and not to its explanation. When these videos are made available, they should contain educational material that offers insight into the commission of a criminal act. At least by providing such information, the public could make a more informed decision on the side they choose.

This partial educational experience was seen a few days ago when a Montreal middle school teacher was suspended for showing the Magnotta video, after a majority vote from students. Rather than just showing the video, the teacher should have given a deeper insight into the human condition to explain such acts of crime.

To simply argue that technology should be regulated to keep the public from seeing these sorts of things is an impossible and controversial endeavour.

By no means am I arguing that the alleged crime should be excused, rather, my argument is that people should be better educated about the reasons why these acts are committed to make a better judgment on this and future cases.

It must be noted that criminal justice policy is reactive in nature, meaning it spurs from an act already committed. This case is extreme in nature, and it’s generally the extreme that leads to policy changes.

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