Thursday, January 04, 2007

Saddam Copycats #2 & #3

The Saddam execution video was shown so often on television and made so available on the internet, that it became a graphic model of behavior for young people to attempt to copycat. Telling in the following stories - and the one posted earlier - are the indications that direct copying of the videotape occurred. The ages of the young people - 9, 10, and 15 - are close enough to have been reflective of the modeling taking place. Furthermore, in the non-American incidents, the behavior contagion was even repeated in the copying of the use of ceiling fans. The copycat effect has been a factor, at least during this short window of contagion. Little restraint seems to have been taken by even the mainstream media who played most of the "official" and "cellphone" footage of Saddam's hanging, over and over, for days.

(Note: I expanded my comments here thanks to a blog by Dave LaMorte. His remarks reminded me that I wanted to come back and be a little more reflective. The above paragraph was added on January 7, 2007. Many people have found there way here due to Xeni Jardin's Boing Boing posting, of course.)

On Monday, I posted here about the death of Mubashar Ali, 9, who hanged himself in Pakistan, on Sunday, December 31, 2006, while copycatting the execution of Saddam Hussein.

Two more copycat hangings of young people have occurred in the wake of the widespread broadcasts of the Saddam hanging video on cable and satellite television, and the entire video on such outlets as YouTube. In Texas, Sergio Pelico, 10, was found Sunday, December 31, 2006, dead from hanging from his bunk bed in an apparent copycat of the Saddam death. In India, early on Wednesday, January 3, 2007, Moon Moon Karmarkar, 15, hanged herself from a ceiling fan.

I am posting extracts from the source articles on the Pelico and Karmarker deaths for archival reasons, as they have a tendency to disappear quickly.

Texas Boy Dies Mimicking Saddam's Hanging
Cops: 10-Year-Old Hung Himself From Bunk After Watching News About Execution
Houston, Jan. 4, 2007

"I don't think he thought it was real. They showed them putting the noose around his neck and everything. Why show that on TV?"
(CBS/AP) Police and family members said a 10-year-old boy who died by hanging himself from a bunk bed was apparently mimicking the execution of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Sergio Pelico was found dead Sunday in his apartment bedroom in the Houston-area city of Webster, said Webster police Lt. Tom Claunch. Pelico's mother told police he had previously watched a news report on Saddam's death.

"It appears to be accidental," Claunch said. "Our gut reaction is that he was experimenting."

An autopsy of the fifth-grader's body was pending.

Julio Gustavo, Sergio's uncle, said the boy was a happy and curious child.

He said Sergio had watched TV news with another uncle on Saturday and asked the uncle about Saddam's death.

"His uncle told him it was because Saddam was real bad," Gustavo said. "He (Sergio) said, 'OK.' And that was it."

Sergio's mother, Sara Pelico DeLeon, was at work Sunday while Sergio and other children were under the care of an uncle, Gustavo said. One of the children found Sergio's body in his bedroom.

Police said the boy had tied a slipknot around his neck while on a bunk bed. Police investigators learned that Sergio had been upset about not getting a Christmas gift from his father, but they don't believe the boy intentionally killed himself.

A 9-year-old Pakistani boy also apparently hanged himself re-enacting Hussein's execution with the help of elder sister by tying a rope to a ceiling fan and his neck in his home, Agence France-Presse reported.

The boy's father said his children attempted to imitate the hanging while other family members thought they were playing in another room.

Clinical psychologist Edward Bischof, of California, said children Sergio's age mimic risky behaviors they see on TV — such as wrestling or extreme sports — without realizing the dangers. He said TV appeared to be the stimulant in Sergio's case.

"I would think maybe this kid is trying something that he thinks fun to act out without having the emotional and psychological maturity to think the thing through before he acts on it," Bischof said.

Family members held a memorial for the boy Wednesday in the apartment complex activity center. Gustavo said the family is trying to put together enough money to send Sergio's body to Guatemala for burial.

"I don't think he thought it was real," Gustavo said of Saddam's hanging. "They showed them putting the noose around his neck and everything. Why show that on TV?"


"Kolkata teenager hangs herself over Saddam's execution"

Kolkata, Jan 4 (ANI): Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's execution has had a mixed reaction in India. While the government expressed its disappointment over his execution, the Left and some sections of the Muslim community accused the US of masterminding the Iraqi leader's killing, and there were the Shiatte population in different Indian towns who expressed jubilation over the hanging.

But nowhere, probably not even in Iraq did an ardent supporter of Saddam express his or her loyalty and sorrow over the execution by taking his or her own life.
So it was quite surprising that a 15 year old girl from Kolkata's suburbs to kill herself in response to Saddam's execution, even though the city is well known for its anti-US feelings and stance.

According to a report by a foreign news agency, the girl, Moon Moon Karmarkar hanged herself for wanting to "feel the pain Saddam did during the execution".
"She said they had hanged a patriot. We didn't take her seriously when she told us that she wanted to feel the pain, Saddam did during the execution," the girl's father Manmohan Karmakar was quoted as saying.
According to Manmohan, Moon Moon had become extremely depressed after watching Saddam's execution on television.
"She kept watching the scene over and again and didn't take food on Saturday and Sunday to protest the hanging," he said.
Police superintendent Pravin Kumar while confirming the suicide, said the girl had strung herself up from a ceiling fan and was found dead early on Wednesday.
Saddam was hanged for crimes against humanity at dawn on Saturday....(ANI)