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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Editorial: Dziekanski death more than taser issue

July 23, 2008
Editorial: 100 Mile Nouse Free Press

Death is a private matter.

A person’s last moments are their most personal - time to say goodbye, to make amends and to savour the life flashing before dimming eyes.

Modern media has made what should be reserved for family and loved ones a public event.

Death speaks loudly.

If people need to make a statement, or shock others to action, then showing the reality of human demise is the way to go.

Watching someone die on TV or the Internet can be like looking into a possible future. People ask themselves: could that be how it will end for me?

To stress an issue, to prove a point or to get some answers, broadcast death - it is the ultimate emphasis. One only needs to look at Robert Dziekanski, the Polish immigrant who was tasered at YVR, to see how death can turn incidents into atrocities.

Before the video came out, the public thought of it as just another Tasering incident.

The film showed otherwise, and the strangled last breaths of the dying man revealed even more.

People relate to death because it happens to everyone - to die is human.

But is viewing death humane?

Besides a few cases of extroverted suicides, living creatures don’t usually go somewhere public when they know they are about to die. A family pet will lay in a corner, a terminal patient will attempt to go home - as common as it is, death is still a mysterious thing.

But some living things do not get the dignity of a secluded death.

Dziekanski did not get that luxury.

Neither did Eugene Armstrong, an American whose decapitation was posted on the Internet.

It is hard to choose between respect for the dead and knowledge for the living.

Death finds everyone - it just matters if there is a camera around when it does. With cameras posted everywhere from the street to cell phones, there’s a good chance someone will record your last breath.

Dziekanski has been laid to rest in his homeland; but the controversy surrounding his death lives on.

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