This is the type of story with many layers, and quite honestly it is almost impossible to objectively report on. One reason is that there is the obvious moral component, but another is the responsibility of social media in general and YouTube specifically. Yet another reason is the broader topic of animal abuse. And then there is the question of whether animal lovers and advocates can realistically do anything to stop the madness. A YouTube channel owned by Akatsukito posted a video showing the abuse, torture, and murder of a cat. The image of the cat was blurred out, and the video posted a warning that the content which you are about to view is graphic and violent in nature. The cat was apparently decapitated, seen lying in a pool of its own blood. A YouTube viewer, Destiny, saw the video and posted a snippet of it to her Twitter account.
The first question that arises is what is the responsibility of social media in prevent either the posting or reposting of content which is clearly animal abuse. Destiny notified YouTube of the video’s content but no action was taken to ban Akatsukito’s channel from viewing. Given the state of political correctness in the world of social media, it is a head scratcher to try and understand why YouTube failed to do anything. The video was taken down, apparently voluntarily and apparently as a result of Destiny’s actions. Yet should Twitter have allowed Destiny to post the snippet of the video on her account?
There is the moral component of this story, which asks whether or not it is right to torture and kill any animal for the sake of views or profit. This is a colder view of what happened, and what makes this important is how other people will be affected by watching the video out of curiosity. Destiny seems to have been one of those people, otherwise why would they being viewing such content after being warned? There were more responses to the complaint by Destiny than actual viewers of Akatsukito’s video, which may be more of an indictment of social media than the original video.
For those who want to attempt to defend posting the video as a matter of freedom of speech, such rights do not exist in most countries. Projecting American rights on to the rest of the world makes as much sense as defending the video content by arguing that it is the way they do things in other cultures. Google, who owns YouTube, is an American company presumably operating under American law. The killing of cats in other countries may be done for religious reasons or simply to provide food for a family. But the outright torture for the depraved entertainment value of a person is hardly approved of everywhere. Take a look at the restrictions Hong Kong has placed on its citizens regarding the treatment of pets.
In America, the treatment of domesticated animals specifically is regulated by law and there is a growing concern about how people are treating animals in general. Despite the digital media’s obsession with clickbait and sensationalized stories, the problem of animal abuse is reported over and over on a daily basis. The problem is very real, and though there doesn’t appear to be a wealth of videos out there popularizing the practice, this YouTube issue and the failure to act is not helping matters at all.
All of this leaves the question of what to do about the problem. Animal rights organizations and activists can bring attention to the issue, but from a practical perspective it really is impossible for the existing law enforcement agencies or legislators to address the problem in a meaningful way. Regulation of social media or the Internet in general is equally impossible, leaving the digital universe to be policed by the users themselves. As of this writing, no action has been taken against Akatsukito or his alleged parent company, Peluchin Entertainment. It should be noted that because of the removal of the video and the absence of the full video, the claims against Akatsukito are “alleged.”
If the video was not an actual act of the torture and killing of a cat, then what was its purpose? What was the purpose if it was, as claimed, a real event? A recent survey indicated that about 85% of YouTube viewers use the social media site for “entertainment” purposes. The important word to focus on here is “purpose.” The poster in the original video can be heard laughing in the background. It’s beyond comprehension how anyone can watch the video and honestly believe there is something funny about it. There are social diseases, and there are social media posters.
When people run out of new and different ways to create animal abuse videos, what – or who –is next? Anime continues to be a way to skirt around the issue of senseless violence or violence intended to entertain. In the popular movie Kill Bill, Vol 1 anime is used to depict the brutal torture and murder of a child’s father and mother. As a whole, the movie was very bloody and violent and that was 15 years ago. Video games are suffering from the same depiction and disregard for life, but the difference is players can often respawn and try again at the same level.
Maybe the action of Destiny is exactly what needs to be done as a starting point to make a dent in animal abuse on social media and in the world in general. One person reporting one incident and making it know to as many people who want to listen. But not to watch. While Americans cannot impose their cultural beliefs on other countries, they can choose to police their own sphere of influence. A web site can be created to list social media offenders who post content contrary to the best interests of man and animals.