Off-Topic: Will FOX start airing rape footage next?

In 1972, Harlan Ellison edited an anthology of sci-fi short stories called Again, Dangerous Visions (a sequel to "Dangerous Visions", naturally). One of the stories, by Edward Bryant, is called "The 10:00 Report Is Brought to You by..."

The premise of the story is a cynical, burnt-out TV news reporter who discovers, to his disgust, that the network that he's working for has figured out a foolproof way of getting exclusive coverage of breaking news stories...by creating them (and yes, a similar plot device was used in the James Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies).

Specifically, the reporter discovers that the network has set up a bunch of remote camera units throughout a small town and then paid a local biker gang to actually invade the town and loot/pillage/terrorize the place, so that they'll have juicy, compelling live footage of actual arson, robbery and looting taking place.

Even more specifically, the part of the story following the reporter's realizing the truth is intercut with another story...that of a young woman living in the town in question, being pursued, captured...and raped by members of the biker gang.

All captured on camera.

You know, for ratings.

An incredibly disturbing story, of course, and prescient, given today's anything goes 24-hour cable news machine.

So why am I bringing this up?

Here's why:

Fox News Airs Images Of Burning Jordanian Pilot: 'We Feel You Need To See It'

Fox News aired graphic images from the new video released Tuesday that appears to show the Islamic State burning alive Jordanian fighter pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh.

Anchor Bret Baier warned viewers on “Special Report” Tuesday evening that the pictures were coming, adding, "We feel you need to see it."

“Tonight, we are going to show you some of the images ISIS has put out,” he said. "The images are brutal. They are graphic. They are upsetting. You may want to turn away. You may want to have the children leave the room right now."

The Fox News anchor added that the network decided to air the horrific images in order "to bring you the reality of Islamic terrorism."

The network also chose to embed the entire ISIS video on its website, which brought on criticism from other outlets.

Video of a human being being burnt alive.

A snuff film.

And not just someone being shot, mind you, but burnt alive. On camera. And FOX decided to broadcast it.

The Guardian lays it out simply:

Fox News has chosen to embed on its website the video of Islamic State burning a hostage to death, a move which makes them the only US media organisation to broadcast the video in full.

The extremely graphic 22-minute video shows Muadh al-Kasasbeh, a Jordanian pilot, being set on fire and burned to death in a cage. Fox News did not post the videos of the killings of previous Isis hostages, and no other media company has hosted this video.

...Rick Nelson, a senior associate in homeland security and terrorism at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that posting the video actually empowers Isis.

“They’re a terror organisation,” he said. “They seek to strike terror in the hearts and minds of people globally, and by perpetuating these videos and putting them out there into the internet, it certainly expands the audience and potential effects.”

“These groups need a platform, and this gives them a platform,” he added.

Nance told the Guardian that showing the video would also further endanger other hostages, including the 26-year-old American aid worker currently held by the militant group.

“[Fox News] are literally – literally – working for al-Qaida and Isis’s media arm,” he added.

“They might as well start sending them royalty checks.”

Rape is commonly used as an official weapon of terror and torture (including, it appears, by the United States of America).

ISIS is among those who systematically rape women and young girls.

Gee, FOX...if ISIS sends you a video showing their members raping a woman, will you broadcast that as well?

After all, that footage would certainly be "brutal, graphic, upsetting" and would "bring the reality of Islamic terrorism".

What's that you say? No? That crosses the line?

But showing a man being set on fire and burned to death is OK by you?

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not accusing FOX of being in cahoots with ISIS.

I'm just saying that, as Mr. Nelson notes, they might as well be.

And people wonder why I turned FOX down when they asked me to appear on one of their stupid shows last spring.

That is all.