Friday, September 09, 2005

Should We Show the Pictures of the Dead

Both Maxed out Mama and the Anchoress have posts dealing with the controversy surrounding whether or not the press should be able to photograph the bodies of the dead in Louisiana and Mississippi. Both think it is simply wrong. Currently, Bush and/or others in the administration have decided to stop the press from photographing the scenes.

At first, I agreed and thought that taking pictures of the dead was just plain wrong and disrespectful to those who died and those who survived them. But the more I think about it, the more I think the press should be able to take pictures.

After all, words can never accomplish what pictures can. Was it wrong for the press to take photos of the battle fields strewn with dead Americans during the civil war? Was it wrong to take pictures of the dead and living at the concentration camps in WWII? What about the images of the dead we broadcasted over and over of the Kurds that were gassed in Iraq? Would it have served the Jews or the Kurds not to document the truth? We also broadcasted the pictures of the dead from the tsunami on American TV. Does it serve history to forever wipe the reality away? The gruesome images of tragedy have been and always will be the best tool for reminding us why we do something different now than we did before.

We can write books about the holocaust, but one picture will say more than all the volumes and volumes we could write. This is something that would not be forgotten because it is the loss of life that was the tragedy. Houses can be rebuilt. People can't. And if the images of this tragedy will remind people of what can happen if they don't leave their homes, then we have done an injustice to those who died by not showing the images.

Maybe there should be a moratorium on showing the images for 6 months or a year, but it is not something that should be swept under the rug.

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