Last week, a terrible thing happened in Norway. My heart goes out to anyone and everyone affected by this horrible act of violence. That, however, is not what this post is about. One thing that really concerned me about this tragedy was how the news covered it. The articles and stories were fine, but what got to me were the pictures (and one interview).
As I reading article after article, trying to find some meaning in all this madness, one thing I noticed were the photos. I saw a picture of a woman running and crying, blood covering her face and hands. I saw a picture of a street in chaos, a building in pieces. By far, the worst picture I saw, though, was one of the island where the teenagers were. The picture was taken from an opposing shore line, and bodies of victims lay on the island...bodies of people who were trying to escape. There's another one that was similar, but the bodies were covered. In this photo they were not, and I was horrified.
With pictures such as these, I have to ask, "What are we trying to do to the world?" What is our fascination with death? Why is almost mandatory that newspapers and journalists show us these grotesque images?
Let me first say, that I have no problem with gore on t.v. I've watched enough shoot-em-up, guy films to no that it's just a movie. In response to people who argue that all this gore on t.v. is desensitizing our children, I say that it's actually creating a great opportunity for parents to teach their kids. It's an opportunity to point out real from fake and right from wrong. So, why does it make such a difference when it's in the newspaper?
Well, for one, it is NOT fake. The images that people are seeing are very much real. We ARE desensitizing ourselves to gore. Seeing it in a movie starring Nicholas Cage or Keanu Reeves is very different from seeing it in the New York Times. How can anyone proclaim the horrors of such an incident, when it is apparently OK for a newspaper to print up photos? I fear that in many people's minds, the thought may be "if it's really so terrible, why are there pictures?"
Two, what about the victims? These are pictures that family members, mothers, and fathers, are going to have to see for years. These images will haunt the families for the rest of their lives. Is it not bad enough to lose your child / best friend / cousin without having to see their body strewn on a beach? It's not fair to them. They will already have to hear the interviews, read the stories, and listen to the news reports. Why must they be bombarded with such horrendous photos?
Lastly, I'm going to go slightly off-topic. When Osama Bin Laden was killed, many people called for a photo. They said, "How do we know he is dead? We want proof!" Personally, I do not wish to see a man who was killed by a bullet. Why would you? I fear that by showing these pictures of death, we are only creating a desire to see more death. How can that be healthy?