The brutal and gruesome execution of American Nicholas Berg, videotaped by terrorists in Iraq, is refocusing attention on a growing controversy in our times. What should the public -- especially young people – see and who should decide what is made available for viewing.
Berg's execution is an example of war at its worst — barbaric, inhuman behavior -- a textbook case -- and that's the dilemma, reports CBS News Correspondent Lee Cowan.
In high schools from California to Alabama, some educators have chosen to use the grizzly videotape as a teaching tool.
"I see nothing wrong with it," said Deborah Brown, a high school junior. "They showed people jumping out of buildings on 9/11. I mean I don't see the difference."
Sophomore Zach Bramer had a stronger reaction. "I didn't really like it, it kind of grossed me out," he said.
And many parents objected.
"I don't think the kids need to be seeing that," one parent said. "I don't think anybody needs to see that. It's disgusting!"
And it worries some psychiatrists.
"It's an invaluable lesson in history, especially the Middle East, and the U.S. relationship with the Middle East, to discuss it in that context, yes, but not show it," said Thomas Van Hoose, professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas.
In Texas, two teachers have been suspended for showing the video
"It was not a good decision," said Keith Sockwell, superintendent in the Northwest school district in Texas.
In San Diego, another three teachers have been placed on leave.
"Parents are upset, the board's upset. I'm upset. Inappropriate," said Terry Ryan, superintendent of San Diego's Grossmont-Union school district.
The reality is none of the students needed a teacher to see the video. Berg's name is one of the most searched on the Internet and one site is selling the tape.
And some radio talk shows — including Sean Hannity — even played Berg's dying gasps on the air.
"Even though you don't want to hear it, I think you ought to make yourself hear it," Hannity said.
It all raises an uncomfortable question. If the video is out there in so many venues, and kids are probably going to watch it anyway, is it better to have them watch under the guise of history with a teacher present, or are the horrors of the war on terror better talked about at home.
Students are confused about that one.
"It's a time of war and not everything is the way it was before, you know?" said Deborah Brown.
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