Clay Duke Blowing His Head Off -- Why We Want to See This Video


Clay Duke school board shooterThe video of school board shooter Clay Duke taking hostages in Panama City, Florida on Tuesday was hard to watch. The ex-con was angry, belligerent and determined to destroy lives. But Duke wasn't the only disturbed mind in America this week.

The interwebs were flooded with people searching for the "full video" of the incident, searches that came up empty. The video that people did see -- the video we chose to run here on The Stir -- followed Duke from the moment he stepped up with spray paint to make his giant V for Vendetta symbol through his discussions with school officials and his first gunshot.

Then the images were stilled while the sound carried on. We heard the volley of gunfire that was Duke duking it out with a security guard. We may even have heard the shot that signified Duke's suicide. But we never saw the actual death.

So why were people so hell-bent on seeing the most horrifying moment of all? Is our prurient curiosity a mark of what's wrong with America? Most of us have seen dead people; we've been to funerals. But standing beside a body prepared by a mortician, wounds hidden, ravaging of disease plastered over with makeup is one thing. It's just that -- a body, no longer a human being.

It's harder to separate the human from the body in the moments just after death. Working as a reporter, I've been at accident scenes and seen more than I ever wanted to see. Time, I've been told, hardens you, but after 12 years on the job, I'm still not immune to the wrenching in my stomach when I see a fresh corpse. A cop once sent me pictures of a crime scene, accidentally including the photos of the body, and I nearly threw up.

If it's a weakness, I'm not sure that I would want to be stronger. Just two weeks ago, I sat with my brother in my parents' garage, holding the paw of my childhood dog as he died. The old pup went downhill so quickly that there was no way to take him to the vet to be put to sleep; it would have been worse to move him, and so we sat there. My brother scratched Bingo's ears, while I grasped his paw. The very last moments were, in a word, horrific.

Yes, he was just a dog, but he was my dog. And that horrible pain that went through his eyes in those last moments was something I couldn't control. It was the first active death I'd seen, and it was humbling for me to sit there and realize I had no power here. It's human nature to be cocky about our power over the rest of nature. We are the true king of beasts, but even our egos can't cheat death. It's the one thing that cuts us all off at our knees.

Most Americans did not have the connection to Duke that I had to Bingo. Plenty spent this week saying good riddance to such a bad seed. But seeing someone die is not a celebration. It tears you, the viewer, apart inside. And if it doesn't, you may be just disturbed enough to take a school board hostage with a gun. Did you want to see the full video?


Image via CNN

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I did not want to see the full video, no.  Some people seem to think that death is just not that big of a deal, but whether someone was considered "good" or "evil", there is still something sacred about death, and when people become so nonchalant about it that they go searching for a video to see someone "blow their brains out" it worries me.

Tracy Swendsen

It wouldn't fascinate me to see him die, but to see the whole "drama" and not the edited version. Either way, he was a sick, disturbed man, and it's just truly a horrible story!

Beret Jablonski Nearing

No. I barely wanted to see any of it. I did like that "nana with the ninja moves" who bopped him with her purse. That's the kind of stuff that interests me. People who exhibit real bravery in the face of danger. IMO there is WAAAAAAAAY too much out there to be viewed. Truly disgusting and disturbing things. Once you see this stuff you can't ever "unsee" it. Life is too short to pollute your brain with this kind of image.

David Rogers

his anger and frustration is shared by millions who have been abused by the rich.the v could stand for for tier v unemployment not v for vendetta.although i do not condone his behaviour this will probably be the beginning of more to come as our country heads down the toilet.

Krista Stephenson Perino

Absolutely not.  I think that people are so desensitized by all the slasher cut em' up movies and they do not see the reality of the situation.  This is a real person, a real death, with real family left behind.  I have never fallen victim to the viral videos that involve suicide, murder, or other violence.  I think watching it is saying it is entertainment.  That will NEVER be my form of entertainment.

nonmember avatar DustoneGT

I found a longer version of the video on youtube, showing the shots fired and him getting shot by the security guard, but it stops short of his suicide shot.

I learned a lot by seeing a full, unedited (except for the final shot) version of the video. First, the security guard was outside the door for minutes and didn't intervene until a shot was fired. He was a former police officer and armed, but like most people he didn't want to risk himself until after things got really bad. Ginger (the purse lady) was far more brave than the man tasked with protecting everybody with his gun.

It's proof that we must be willing to protect ourselves because nobody else will protect you when things get bad.

It also shows how silly Florida and federal gun laws are. As a convicted felon, he isn't allowed to have a gun. In Florida it's illegal to carry into a school board meeting. Neither law stopped him, but it did prevent law-abiding people from defending themselves with more than a purse.

The law and the former police officer/security guard did nothing to protect those people, and they're damned lucky to be alive. The only reason nobody but the gunmen got hurt was that he was obviously unskilled in pistol marksmanship.

The system failed these people. It could have been a lot worse.

Acid Acid

I am more concerned that you euthanized your dog at home.  Actually, I'm not sure euthanize is the proper word...especially if you shot him.  Then, the more appropriate word would be barbically killed him without feeling or remorse.  There was no time to get to a vet is a bullshit, cowardly, disgusting excuse.  As a dog owner it is your responsibility to be able to do what is best for that dog.  Shooting a dog (if that is what you did) in a garage is freaking disgusting.

I found the video of the guy hard to watch.  It scared me for the people involved. 

jeann... jeannesager

@Acid, we did NOT shoot our dog. We woke up and found him dying -- just two weeks after our vet had given him a clean bill of health --  and because we live in the boonies had no way to get him to the vet without putting him in serious amounts of pain. We did the most humane thing possible; we held him and comforted him as he passed away of natural causes.

Jessica Birch

Acid, what the hell made you think they shot their dog? She said they HELD HIM WHILE HE DIED. They didn't kill or euthanize him. They stayed with him while he passed. You retard. 

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