I must have missed something. Why did so many people become outraged over a pilot being burned to death but not over so many larger and more deplorable acts?

This is a serious question.  I'm not trying to start a polarized debate.  I only want to understand why the unbelievably horrible death of Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh made so many people in politics suddenly decide to take hard stands about fundamentalist Islam.  

What was it about his death that was so different than the 130 school kids killed in Pakistan or the 13 boys beheaded for watching soccer on television or alleged gay men being thrown from buildings? What about the women and girls being raped?  What about the taking of children, male and female, from parents -- daughters to be sold off as sex slaves and brides -- boys to be trained to kill. 

The only conspicuous thing about the death of the pilot seems to be that King Abdullah II spoke up and declared the Hashemite army is out for revenge.  I hate to be the one to have to break the news to everyone but what King Abdullah said and what he intends to do are not the same thing.  He'll send his bombers to kill a couple hundred ISISites, tear up some of their trucks, blow up some ammo and then he'll be done.  That's "their way."  If you don't believe it, try to find any recent news on any continuing Pakistani offensive on their Taliban since the slaughter of those school kids.

I've been in close touch with a Jordanian engineering student for about a year now.  He says at least a third of the people he knows support ISIS.  He doubts Abdullah will ever pit his ground forces against ISIS and run the risk of being forced to retreat.  Once the people see Abdullah showing weakness they'll turn against him and support the stronger force.  That's been a part of culture in the middle east since before Mohammed and Allah came along.  They will always switch allegiances at the first sign of weakness simply in order to be on the winning side and survive.

Anyways, I'd like to get some insight on what people think made the death of Moaz al-Kasasbeh so compelling that even many US liberals sound like they are quoting me when they talk about ISIS now.

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This happens all the time in the news. One event seems to take on more importance than a multitude of far worse horrors. Part of it has to do with sympathising with those who you identify with. That is: a dead western soldier executed can be far more emotionally concerning for some westerners than an entire village burnt to the ground in Africa. That's part of it (quite how much I don't know).

However Nocolas Taleb talks about another explanation in his book "Black Swans" (a book I highly recommend). His argument is something like:

One death is a tradegy...a multitude of deaths is a statistic.

The uniqueness of the event, the drama behind it, the personification, the individual character of the victim (it always helps if they are attractive, innocent looking, a special kind of victim) adds to this.

The most striking example he gives is that of the Italian boy who fell down a well during the Lebanese civil war. While people in Beirut were being killed by the minute in the streets and buildings were being raised, men from different factions tortured, women raped, death everywhere...most of the country was fixated on the story of a little boy who fell down a well in Italy with rescuers trying to get him out. They were more concerned with a little boy far away than the individual nightmares happening all around them. The story had a narrative, an innocent cute victim, a compelling story, a unique problem etc.

One death is a tragedy, many deaths are a statistic.

One horror is horrific, a string of horrors is a numbers game.

One death is a tragedy, many deaths are a statistic.

I believe that quote, or one very similar to it, is attributed to Stalin.

Why weren't Muslims as outraged when the atrocities were against American, British, and Japanese citizens? This is one of those areas where I can say that Christianity seems a bit better than Islam. Most Christians would be outraged at burning any person alive.

What was it about his death that was so different

People saw it. It's easy to dismiss 100 school children being raped and murdered if you are never confronted with it.

Wait till ISIS switches from video murder to video torture.

Maybe the US will be forced to change its torture policy?

To include video? Umm... don't think so.

Take a few days trying to come up with some sort of rationalization that you want to convince us will come from that and will actually have an effect on issues in the middle east. Take a week or a month if you need it.

Virgil, I'm not sure what you are asking me to do here... Are you saying you support the US torturing its prisoners? I'm not going into the multitude of reasons why I think its horrible.

Also, why would the US torture policy have any effect on the middle east?

you said 

"Maybe the US will be forced to change its torture policy?"

Tell me what effects anything to do with torture by the US has to do with events in the middle east. Take your time.  

Why are you so adversarial.... the thread is right there for everyone to read.

I said: It's easy to ignore things that you aren't confronted with.

Unseen said: Wait till ISIS puts out videos of torture

I said: Maybe the US will be forced to change its torture policy?

Is it really not clear what I am talking about? I'm saying if US legislators are confronted with videos of torture, and the US voters are also similarly confronted, they will find it harder to ignore the presence of torture, both abroad and domestically and hopefully, will be forced to change their policy.

I realize this isn't strictly in line with the topic of the discussion, but you are the one who has forced an additional 4 posts out of it, derailing your original post far further than I had.

I'd say burning the Jordanian pilot to death alive, and posting so much of it, was video torture. Maybe why it was a bigger deal to people.


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