A week ago, I came across a video. I was browsing, unable to sleep, and I saw a link: Guy kills a man, dismembers his body, has sex with it, and cannibalizes it. Like an idiot, I clicked it. I’m still not sure why.
On the video is a man, dressed in a hoody. There’s also a naked and struggling man on a bed. The camera cuts, and next the man in the hoody is stabbing the other man repeatedly with an ice pick, while the other man’s face is covered with what looks like a pillow. The camera is removed from its stationary point, and brought up to the foot of the bed. The pillow is removed, and we see that that man’s throat has been cut. He’s very dead.
What happens next is a small mercy because the man is already dead as multiple and terrible mutilations are performed upon his body. Dismemberment, necrophilia, and cannibalism. In that order.
His foot was sent to Federal Conservative Party headquarters in Ottawa. At the time, I didn’t realize the connection, but at the time I saw the video I thought it was strange that there was not a blip on the news about it. Is this man still out there? I thought. It was unsettling to imagine.
Since then his name has come out: Luka Rocco Magnotta, aka Eric Clinton Newman, Kirk Newman, and Vladimir Romanov. He’s a former porn actor and model. Shortly before the murder, he videoed himself suffocating kittens and feeding them to a python. That prompted the online community of cat-lovers (of which there are tens of millions) to start a massive social media campaign to bring him to justice. A few years ago, it was rumoured that he was dating Karla Homolka, a convicted and released serial killer. Magnota went public and denied it. Even for a murderer who has sex with corpses and kills kittens, being linked to a woman who raped and killed schoolgirls is too much. He’s since fled to France, or so the police think. I think he’ll be able to hide as long as he has money.
I think the Magnota case is a tipping point. This is where we lose our innocence. I think the greater public’s next revelation will not be that this awful video is out there, but that there are hundreds more out there almost as bad, and some that are as bad or worse. You don’t need to pay to see them, or even apply for a password or membership. They’re just… out there, like everything else is out there. The things you didn’t want to imagine, the things you would think would kill your soul if you ever saw just a second of them, are out there for to see whenever you want. Or when your parents want. Or when your kids want.
Here’s what I learned from perusing the same sight. The Mexican drug cartels video their murders. They murder members of rival gangs, sometimes several at time, slowly decapitating them, and then they chop up the bodies and leave the remains in public with warning notes pinned to them. The video is posted online the next day. Then the rival gangs take revenge by doing the exact same thing, only more gruesomely and inventively. The muslim Georgians videotaped themselves murdering Russian soldiers. The Taliban, the Ansar Al-Sunnah, and Al-Qeada did the same things. Skinhead gangs in Russia do the same thing. There’s a home movie of middle-class Ukrainian teenagers torturing and murdering homeless people. These things, which we never thought we’d see, are just a click away. I can find them on the front page of a google search. The cutting off of heads has always been a display of power, of anger.
I don’t know what this means. Or I think I do, at least. It’s something genuinely bad. Younger people are growing up with this stuff. They’re becoming desensitized to it.
Or are they? Knowledge can be therapeutic. After watching the video of Magnotta murdering that poor student, I watched a few of the cartel murders. They were awful, terrible, unbearable. But I’m not damaged. I felt terrible for the poor men who were being murdered, and wondered what terrible road led them there to that field in the middle of nowhere, to that room in the basement with a tarp covered floor. If I had never seen this footage, those men still would have died. But at least they have a voice. At least we know enough to feel anger.
It happens everywhere, all the time is what I got from seeing these things. There’s no use denying it, or shying away from it. Whenever desperation and war arise, organized display killings happen. It’s evolutionary. It’s not murder the way we think of it: these killings have nothing to do with passion or anger. They are meant to attract attention.
We in the west like to think that these things don’t happen here, not to us. But they do. That trait is lurking under all of us, just waiting for the right war, the right tribal argument, the right ethnic envy, the right religious offence. A part of us wants to kill so we can show just how strong we are.
It’s in us. But now we know it.