I received a fair amount of criticism after my post following the death of Maummar Gadhafi objecting to the apparent execution of the deposed leader and the abuse of his body. One rebel has now come forward to take credit in executing the unarmed dictator and there is now a report that a Libyan rebel may have sodomized the dictator as part of the abuse after his capture.
What is clear is that, even if this report proves true, it will not matter and will likely receive little media attention. There is a clear aversion to appearing sympathetic to a tyrant. The result is this disconnect between the images on the screen and the cheerful coverage of the anchors.
I was surprised by the response by some of my friends, who dismissed concerns about how the man was killed or abuses given his past history of abuse. It is a form of moral relativism that forgives any form of abuse. What concerned me most (and still does) is the almost complete failure of the media to even acknowledge the abuse of Gadhafi while repeatedly airing the footage and joining the “celebration” of his death. The lack of journalistic integrity and independence was chilling. It was only after Human Rights Watch and other groups called for an investigation that the media generally felt comfortable in raising the issue as a news item.
Instead of acknowledging the shocking savagery displayed on the film, CNN turned to the more pressing question of how Gaddafi’s death might translate into a positive factor in the President’s reelection. Abusing and possibly raping a tyrant does not seem much of a cause for celebration, but it does deserve scrutiny from the media (including the obvious violation of international law). It offers little hope for era of dignity heralded by President Obama — anymore than the announcement today that the new Libya will be based on mandatory compliance with Sharia law.