16 votes

A lawyer set himself on fire to protest climate change. Did anyone care?

13 comments

  1. [8]
    Akir (edited ) Link
    I really hate the US news media factory. Someone can literally set themselves on fire in protest and that story will be buried under a mountain of political news fluff. This is literally the first...

    I really hate the US news media factory. Someone can literally set themselves on fire in protest and that story will be buried under a mountain of political news fluff. This is literally the first time I have heard of this story, a full month after it happened.

    Edit: after reading a little more, I found out this happened last year, so I could have simply forgotten about it.

    13 votes
    1. [7]
      vakieh Link Parent
      Why on earth should someone setting themselves on fire be news? They were mentally ill, should we blast people jumping off buildings on the news?

      Why on earth should someone setting themselves on fire be news? They were mentally ill, should we blast people jumping off buildings on the news?

      1 vote
      1. [5]
        Akir Link Parent
        Where on Earth did you read that he was mentally ill? Regardless, to dismiss him as mentally ill is to completely disregard the intentions behind his actions, which I find deplorable.

        Where on Earth did you read that he was mentally ill?

        Regardless, to dismiss him as mentally ill is to completely disregard the intentions behind his actions, which I find deplorable.

        10 votes
        1. [4]
          vakieh Link Parent
          The part where he committed suicide was my biggest clue

          The part where he committed suicide was my biggest clue

          1 vote
          1. [3]
            alyaza Link Parent
            there's a philosophy tube video touching on this exact subject of whether killing yourself is inherently a symptom of being mentally unwell or if people of a sound mind can rationally decide to...

            there's a philosophy tube video touching on this exact subject of whether killing yourself is inherently a symptom of being mentally unwell or if people of a sound mind can rationally decide to choose not to live--and honestly, you'd be hard pressed in my view to prove the absolute statement that all people who kill themselves are indeed genuinely mentally unwell, given some of the scenarios we have available where people have done so (terminal illness, political repression, threats of violence against their family, etc). i think we probably can say most people who kill themselves are, but i genuinely doubt that you can for all, especially with those who kill themselves for political reasons.

            11 votes
            1. [2]
              Rez Link Parent
              It's also why we (generally) don't call terrorists mentally ill, even suicide bombers. Very few people kill themselves with such specific purpose, which lends credence to their state of mind. If...

              It's also why we (generally) don't call terrorists mentally ill, even suicide bombers. Very few people kill themselves with such specific purpose, which lends credence to their state of mind. If you're suicidal, there are millions of ways to do it more quickly and more efficiently instead of sitting around and waiting for the right cause and opportunity. The lawyer was involved in his cause for about a decade it seems. It'd look different if they did their acts only shortly after getting involved, because then that might look like they were trying to find a socially acceptable way to kill themselves, but that's not the case.

              Rightly or wrongly people also view suicide as the person thinking they have nothing left to live for that's worth the bother of their continued living. There's a difference in dying for something and dying because you have nothing. There's no epidemic of people dedicating their suicides to some cause to raise awareness, despite the fact that people won't judge your suicide as harshly, which indirectly makes protest suicides more credible. Whether he was of sound mind is something we ultimately cannot discern though as you say.

              7 votes
              1. CALICO Link Parent
                Self-Immolation as a form of protest also has some notable historical examples, which can be seen as the most extreme form of non-violent protest (as in, violence only upon yourself) one could...

                Self-Immolation as a form of protest also has some notable historical examples, which can be seen as the most extreme form of non-violent protest (as in, violence only upon yourself) one could possibly engage in.

                6 votes
      2. alphamule Link Parent
        Thích Quảng Đức's self-immolation is still an iconic image of Vietnam War protest fifty-six years later.

        Thích Quảng Đức's self-immolation is still an iconic image of Vietnam War protest fifty-six years later.

        2 votes
  2. [2]
    nsz Link
    I don't see a modern news source publishing images of him burning like some of the previous cases mentioned in the article. Maybe it's something to do with the difference between seeing a...

    The muted response was probably, in part, an understandable reluctance to glorify suicide.

    I don't see a modern news source publishing images of him burning like some of the previous cases mentioned in the article. Maybe it's something to do with the difference between seeing a westerner vs someone from a faraway place and culture. The Burning Monk [nfw] is on the Times 'Most Influential Images of All Time', but something like this, it's too close to home, idk. Maybe it's too shocking to show, and you get questions about his metal health instead. Maybe it's just the time we live in, a different world and sensibilities to 40-50 years ago.

    7 votes
    1. 9000 Link Parent
      My understanding is that Norman Morrison was a big deal at the time, and he was an American.

      Maybe it's something to do with the difference between seeing a westerner vs someone from a faraway place and culture.

      My understanding is that Norman Morrison was a big deal at the time, and he was an American.

      4 votes
  3. [2]
    Diet_Coke Link
    Self immolation is a long-documented form of protest. It has literally started wars - when Thích Quảng Đức immolated himself in Vietnam it caused a chain of events leading to the Vietnam war. When...

    Self immolation is a long-documented form of protest. It has literally started wars - when Thích Quảng Đức immolated himself in Vietnam it caused a chain of events leading to the Vietnam war. When a street merchant immolated himself in Tunisia it sparked the Arab spring. It's no surprise to me that US media won't touch these stories.

    6 votes
  4. Rez Link
    It looks like the self-immolation was conducted relatively privately despite being in a park. It's not clear to me based on this article and others that anyone even saw him set himself on fire,...

    Did anyone care?


    The muted response was probably, in part, an understandable reluctance to glorify suicide.

    It looks like the self-immolation was conducted relatively privately despite being in a park. It's not clear to me based on this article and others that anyone even saw him set himself on fire, let alone recorded any aspect of it. I think this is pretty important to consider before bashing the media's response to it. Self-immolation is powerful as a protest suicide because of its dramatic imagery, and it seems he conducted his suicide in a way to minimize that impact: an unassuming location with no spectators or recording devices. In contrast, someone like Norman Morrison self-immolated in front of the Pentagon and a crowd. It's not a surprise to me then why his protest suicide was virtually ignored, and may even be an indication that he was not thinking rationally if he couldn't think about how to maximize the impact of his protest suicide.

    3 votes