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Freedom | Friday, February 24th, 2006 | 11 years, 5 months ago
— WARNING —
Some addresses in this blog entry post to material that some people may find extremely upsetting and objectionable. I have entered these hyperlinks as plain text instead of clickable URLs to prevent the possibility of accidental viewing. DO NOT VIEW THESE LINKS unless you are exceptionally strong of mind and stomach.

A while back I accidentally happened across a website with content I will never forget. The site is www.ogrish.com – a repository of stories, images, and videos of violent and graphic material. This content is not baseless; it is a collection of recordings by law enforcement agencies, news media, private investigators, soldiers, terrorists, murderers, and more.

I’m not sure how I found this website (I believe I was reading about the war in Iraq), but I assure you that, despite the very fair warning and disclaimer displayed before entering, I was not prepared for the things I saw.

The site contains photographs of traffic accident aftermaths, uncensored footage of war, videos showing mutilation and murder of kidnapping victims, graphic pictures of disease victims from medical archives, beheadings of prisoners of war, and a heck of a lot more. The things I saw upset me and repulsed me. My heart raced as I watched agonizingly long video clips showing the last minutes of peoples’ lives, beknownst or not to the victims.

I browsed the site for over 2 hours. I hated what I saw but I couldn’t stop browsing. That night I had trouble getting to sleep, and when I did I had nightmares. I’ve returned to the site since in an attempt to face my demons.

I am writing today to praise ogrish.com for making these materials available on the internet.

Yes, there are more pleasant and productive things to concentrate on. A tiny percentage of human beings have to watch such horrific stuff, because it is their job or they were just in the wrong place in the wrong time. Most of us in the “first world” are content receiving news of the world through homogenized, triple-baked, carefully manipulated, lifeless words and statistics. Anyone who has seen the content of ogrish.com (or is unfortunate enough to see such things first hand) will tell you that flaccid words do not do justice to the oppressed and the tormented.

Ogrish.com is news. The real news. In your back yard. And front yard.

Despite the fact that some content shows American soldiers, police, and citizens at their worst, the website is served by a web host in the USA and is protected by the first amendment of the US constitution. (this link is safe to click) This is one of the greatest triumphs of human freedom I’ve observed personally. Goes to show how sheltered we Canadians suburbanites are.

It is with this spirit of freedom in mind that I am sorry to report that the German government has requested that google.de remove all links to ogrish.com. This is certainly not the only recent case of censorship by the German government; a topic I’ve discussed (safe to click) in the past. It’s also not the only case of Google censoring results to conform to national law (safe to click), though interestingly the site still appears on China’s google.cn.

Few things in life remind us of how very lucky and free we truly are. Ogrish.com is one of them. It reminds me of how important it is to be aware of the world around me, to care about the actions and rights of my neighbours, and to fight for and speak out about what I think is right. Although I complain about things like frivolous lawsuits and oversensitive special interest groups, I realize that their freedom to protest is what makes civilized nations so great. When a nation loses its freedom to state the facts, never mind vocalize its opinions of them, there is cause for great international concern.

When we are stagnant we decay. When we are challenged we grow stronger. Having said this, I still don’t feel comfortable recommending anyone to view www.ogrish.com. This website has pretty much the most horrific stuff I can humanly imagine. Still, I feel like a better person having seen this material. I feel that I have a better understanding of human nature, other cultures, my own culture, and especially of terror.

I’ve been writing this entry on a comfy couch with the TV on in the background. I’ve glanced over periodically and noticed commercials for shows and movies that display sword fights, gunplay, murder, and oppression as entertainment. I find this frivolity particularly disgusting now. These themes are serious and unsavoury. I think people like Jack Thompson who try to equate video games with real violence should be strapped to a chair and forced to watch every piece of media on ogrish.com so that he can finally understand the difference between fantasy and reality.

Draw your own conclusions. Agree with me or disagree. Whether or not you feel websites like these should exist, whether newspapers should be allowed to publish religiously insensitive cartoons, or anything at all, voice your opinion loud and clear.

I enclose a link to one video from ogrish.com. It is video shot by American soldiers in Iraq who are being fired upon by a sniper. The Americans call for air support and the building hiding the sniper is bombed. There is no blood or particularly “objectionable” material (unless you count the reaction of the American soldiers, which I do).

Truly, if a picture is worth a thousand words, this short video is worth an entire book.

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2 Comments

  1. I’m amazed that something like this would exist in this world. I am completely for the sharing of this information but cannot deny that there are too many that would try to take a site like that down. It is a strong example of the utilization of the Freedom of Information Act. I personally cant say that I will view it any time soon because I have a very visual memory and things tend to haunt me, and the fact that I just finished a HUGE burrito before typing this. Thank you though for bringing this to my attention and I agree 100% that people should be made aware of the horrors of the world and the bigots in their nice suits fighting “violent television” and “violent games” should get a reality check and realize that virtual reality doesn’t come anywhere close to real life and has an extremely long way to go before we can truly worry about it.

    lol I like the little “()” after each link to say its safe.

    Comment by andrew — January 29, 2007 @ 9:27 pm

  2. I too have a visual memory. I remember seeing a scene from Jaws as a little kid, of a guy getting eaten alive by the shark. That image gave me nightmares for years and would just pop into my mind’s eye unexpectedly at the most inopportune times. The same is true of things I’ve seen on Ogrish. Yeck.

    As important as this site is, I don’ t feel right hyperlinking to it. That’s why I add the parentheses to safe links. It’s fine to share your views, but for something as controversial as this I’m inclined to take extra precautions for my readers’ sakes.

    Comment by brian — January 30, 2007 @ 1:21 pm

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