As an American culture we thrive on gratification As Eliot Aronson says, “We Americans seem to thrive on competition; we reward winners and are disdainful of losers.” When the United States was hunting for Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden, they were determined and were not going to give up; they were the “alpha male” in pursuit of win. When they “killed” Osama Bin Laden, the subsequent reaction of the public personally sickened me. The gargantuan number of people in the streets celebrating the death of a human being seemed inhumane to me and somewhat immature. Yes, it is something to be happy about–an evil human being is no longer able to harm the human race, but this doesn’t condone dancing in the streets in your underwear.
Aronson states, “Committing acts of violence increases our negative feelings about the victims. Ultimately this is why violence breeds more violence.” In this chapter he also discusses how studies have shown (one performed by Michael Kahn) that those who don’t vent about an issue for some reason do not display a great amount of hostility if they were given the opportunity to do so.
If we are presented a video of someone being executed, it might possibly initiate feelings of hatred that didn’t exist prior. Perhaps this is the reason why the federal government withheld the postmortem photos of Osama Bin Laden. Providing visual proof of his death to the public could have led to a call for more death, and thus made the public want to see more, which in turn might possibly have led to random acts of violence. In an experiment that Wendy Josephson conducted whereby she presented non-violent and violent films to young hockey players, she proved that this may not be true, general speaking. Josephson showed that watching a violent film didn’t faze the hockey players who were considered not to be naturally aggressive, but did in fact trigger increased aggression in those who had been known to have those tendencies prior to her experiment.
Broadcasting executions to the public may not increase aggression in everyone who views them, but may prove to be a very strong trigger for those individuals possessing a tendency toward it, thus leading to increased violence in our society.