“Hard to Watch” Video: Responsible or Not?

Over at the Huntington Post, Jason Linkins praises the edict of NBC News chief Steve Capus to curb network Olympic coverage use of the video showing Nodar Kumaritashvili’s fatal luge run. “I’m glad this decision has been reached,” Linkins writes. “The video of Kumaritashvili’s fatal luge run is difficult to watch and I do not recommend that you do so. …Here’s hoping Steve Capus will remember having made this choice come September and break with MSNBC’s grim and pointless tradition of replaying the events of September 11, 2001 in real time.”

Linkins presumably regards Capus’s decision as “responsible broadcasting.” My question is, “What’s responsible about it?” Continue reading

Futile Ethics Lessons From the Luge

Long before Luger Nodar Kumaritashvili of the Republic of Georgia crashed and died on a training run there, Vancouver’s Whistler Sliding Centre, now the site of the Olympics luge, bobsled and skeleton competitions, had been the target of complaints, warnings and controversy regarding its safety. After the first international training event at Whistler in November 2008, the president of the luge governing body openly expressed worries over the speed of the track. Since then, there have been sufficient accidents on the track, not only in the luge, but also bobsled and skeleton races, that the fatal accident there could not fairly be called “a surprise.”  Just a  day before the Georgian was killed, United States luger Mark Grimmette was quoted as being concerned about the course’s speed, saying, “I think we’re probably getting close, too close, to the edge.” Later the same day, a Romanian luge racer was knocked unconscious during his training run. The frequency of crashes during the training runs last week were far above the norm.

Nevertheless, Olympic and luge officials chose not to make changes to the course that would limit the speeds in excess of 90 miles per hour that luge, bobsled and skeleton competitors were reaching, speeds beyond what they were used to, or had trained to handle.

And yet… Continue reading