Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Heads you lose

Papal snuff porn
So, ISIL chopped off another American head, and the sanctimony is bubbling over. You might suppose that it was something strange and backward and barbaric. Yes to the last two, but not so strange, even in dar al-Harb (the house of war, everything outside the Koran Belt).

France was chopping off heads until 1977, so the horror being expressed at the ISIL murders there must be a recent development.

When Admiral Coligny was murdered in 1572, his head was sent to the pope, who was so pleased that he hired Giorgio Vasari (better known now as author of “Lives of the Painters”) to paint a series of memorial scenes for the Sala Regia (next door to the Sistine Chapel). The illustration of this papal snuff porn shows Coligny being thrown out of  the window of his sickroom. When he landed, he lost not only his head but his hands and his balls. The paintings are said to still be hanging there.

Up to at least 1789, nobles and kings preferred to have their heads chopped off, since shooting and hanging was demeaning, good enough for peasants and tradesmen but not for men and women of quality.

Beheading is common today in Mexico and very common in Brazil, where several newspapers devote most of their space to pictures of headless corpses.

RtO will not find the images for you, but you can find them easily enough yourself. Bizarre, an English monthly magazine, used to publish pictures of heads set in the middle of roads, usually looking mildly surprised, during the civil wars in Ivory Coast and other west African hellholes in the 1990s.

I have not seen photos of beheadings at the Kaaba in Mecca, but the Saudi government is reported to station monitors with scimitars around the shrine, in case – as sometimes happens – an overwrought worshipper making his mandated three laps throws up on the sacred covering and has to have his head chopped off.

ISIL has been chopping off heads for some time now but no one in America paid much attention until it started doing it to American reporters.

Mistakes were sometimes made. I won’t provide the link, but if you search you can find a photo of a rebel taking a selfie of himself with a fresh head. It was, however, an oopsie:

The Islamic State of Syria and Levante (Isis) said its fighters in Aleppo decapitated a wounded rebelSunni Islamist rebel named Muhammad Fares because they believed he was a supporter of the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
Actually, they later discovered Fares was fighting on their side. It was, as they say in the Koran Belt, an own goal.

RtO thinks the attention centered on the occasional reporter who gets murdered is misplaced. Most of ISIL’s victims are obscurer folk, but I think we should count them anyway.

On the other hand, if the attention paid to American victims results in some action -- arming the Kurds would be an obvious step -- that would help the obscure and friendless, then some good might come out of it.

Otherwise, it doesn’t look that much different from papal snuff porn.


  1. Otherwise, it doesn’t look that much different from papal snuff porn.

    When did the papal snuff porn happen? Surely there must be photographs.

    Between passive voice and moral equivalency, it is hard to tell which more essential to progressives.

  2. Yes, there are. One is included in this post. Did you not see it?

    On your next stop in Rome, you can see it yourself. It is still there (although some guidebooks dishonestly refuse to mention it).

  3. The snuff porn is happening right now. The murders in question were in 1572 but continued till recently, and will resume if secular government ever weakens where the Church is dominant, just as the ISIL murderers were curtailed where secular governments prevailed in the Koran Belt.

    Incurious George saw to it that that did not prevail in Iraq.

    So, you see, the moral equivalence is, in fact, equivalent.