Thursday, 8 March 2012

Exploiting Eric Czapnik

I'm wondering this morning how many complaints CTV Ottawa got yesterday for running a video which showed the last minutes of Constable Eric Czapnik's life.

For those who haven't seen it, I wouldn't recommend it as "must see television", unless, of course you get off on seeing a reality version of The Walking Dead.

Constable Czapnik is the Ottawa police officer who had his throat slashed in the parking lot of the Civic Campus of the Ottawa Hospital two Christmases ago.

The surveillance video was released yesterday to the media and showed Constable Czapnik staggering into the hospital's emergency ward, holding his slashed throat, blood spewing from his neck. As the video aired on the supper hour newscast last night, reporter Catherine Lathem gave play-by-play commentary reminding viewers that that was real blood coming from the Constable's throat.

Good eye, Catherine, good eye.

Didn't see it the first time? Let's show that clip again.

Missed it again? Go to You can play it over and over again.

I don't think I was alone in being offended by this video. I'm not sure what purpose showing it served the public. Would it make us more enraged at the perp? Would that public outrage ensure that he got what he deserved?

Did watching it make us feel better about ourselves? Would the watching of the video deter others from killing police officers in cold blood?

Showing that video did nothing but help or hurt the ratings.

What we saw was the poor Constable, trying to hold himself together in a final act of dignity as he staggered into the ER. Unfortunately, what dignity he had, he lost with his death being exploited.

Clearly, there are some that disagree with me.

I was told off on Facebook yesterday for suggesting that it's a slippery slope when courts agree to allow the media to show snuff video. What's next?
Rape and murder?

What would have stopped CTV Ottawa from showing the videos of Russell Williams raping and murdering his victims if the court thought showing them would be in the public interest?

A Facebook friend suggested that it's high time Canada get with the program, that these kinds of videos are shown every day in other countries to raise awareness of atrocities and such.

Maybe it's true. Maybe I'm too prim and proper. A prude, one of my friends once called me.

I don't think so. The day I lose my humanity and indignation about the exploitation of people like Eric Czapnik is the day you can put me in the ground.

I'm all for full disclosure in court, but not necessarily in public. I don't believe that every sordid detail of every murder trial should be overshared with the titillated public on Twitter, either.

In the age of Twitter, the courts are losing their judgment.

As for CTV Ottawa, well, I lost respect for that station months back when the newscast began showing graphic videos of police beatings, horses being slaughtered and cows being shot in the head. I see no purpose for showing these kinds of things on the supper hour news, when many children are having family dinner time together.

I hope that Constable Czapnik's young son wasn't sitting in front of the telly last night with his mom.

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