End of Chapter Question Pointers
Chapter 28 – Victims of Terrorism and Political Violence
Orla Lynch and Carmel Joyce
- What is the impact on society of intense ongoing media coverage in the aftermath of terrorist attacks?
- How might a widespread fear of terrorism be addressed?
- In the aftermath of a terrorist attack, when we as individuals reflect on our proximity to the event, our knowledge of the location, our last visit to that place, or the likelihood that we could have been there – what are the implications for how we think about terrorism?
- If a human rights (as opposed to criminal justice) framework is used to inform victimology, are we all victims now?
- Explored how media coverage of terrorism has impacted on your sense of safety. Have you changed your behaviour?
There are three issue to think about when addressing this question. The first is what attacks receive 24-hour wrap around coverage and what attacks do not. Another is how does this media coverage impact on other aspects of daily life, for example social media engagement, sense of risk, willingness to travel, stereotyping and discrimination against certain groups etc. Finally how are different audiences impacted and how does this manifest itself in any changes to behaviour.
Fear of terrorism is the aim of those who engage in political violence or make threats of violence. At an individual level, for this question you need to think about how the message is transmitted, how it is amplified, where it is hosted, and who are the audiences. At a political level, it is worth thinking about how the issue of fear, risk, and threat are used by national and local leaders. For example, look into the traffic light system that is in place to tell the public the level of terrorist threat that exists. What impact does that have on the population?
Consider your own reaction to a major terrorist attack – did you consider if you had visited that place before? Did you wonder if you knew someone caught up in the violence? When we try to understand and empathize with the people caught up in terrorist violence we often do so by making connections with their experiences. What does this mean for terrorism that happens in places we are not familiar with?
The issue to think about in this question is how do we conceive of harm. If a victim is only a victim when they are the victim of a crime, what does this mean? Not all instances of harm are criminal. From rape within marriage (in some locations), to physically disciplining children, to corporate harm such as pollution and dangerous working conditions, many behaviours and outcomes that cause significant harm are not illegal or not a crime. When addressing this question, think about how expanding the notion of harm by focusing on the human rights framework will have implications for who and what we think of as a victim.
In thinking about this question, focus on how you think about risk. Do you concern yourself with day-to-day risks such as travelling via public transport or by car? Do you focus on the risk of contracting a contagious disease when you travel? Do you concern yourself with protecting your property when travelling alone? Now think about how terrorism impacts your choices to travel: when, where, how? Are you aware of the probability of being involved in a terrorist attack, is your awareness or fear of terrorism proportionate to the risk? If not, why is this the case, and how does this play out in your day-to-day decisions?