Saturday, May 07, 2011

Pondering the bin Laden photo

Regarding the question of releasing the post-death photo of Osama bin Laden, apparently with half of his face blown off:

I grasp the philosophical issue of whether the government should decide whether the public deserves to see it; whether it's sanitizing warfare to not release it; whether it might further enrage extremists and bring even more severe plots of retribution. I don't dismiss how the release of the photo changes the political ramifications of the event, and how both the President and the GOP both have something to gain by not releasing or releasing it.

I understand the catharsis of vengeance in appeasing some kind of Neanderthal bloodlust.

(Dismissing the conspiracy theorists is pointless, as they'll only find some reason to question the authenticity of anything released.)

I get it.

When I ponder this, however, what befuddles me is the simpler question: Why would anyone whose rational mind has returned to dominance, want to see the photo? We're not talking about perverse curiosity, or emotionally distanced participation in this culturally shared event, or desiring to use it to further an agenda. We're not talking about feeling as though one should see it, out of some sense of obligation. Why would anyone who has come down off that high of hearing the news want to see that image just for the sake of seeing it?

I know eventually it will get out, one way or another, but if it's released now it will be ubiquitous; there will be no avoiding it in a media landscape that cannot be satisfied when it comes to this story. Well, short of going and living in a cave.

Perhaps the fact that I even ponder the question of why anyone would want to see it proves that I really don't get it. I await the notification that my U.S. citizenship is being revoked.

I'm sure there's a nice cave out there somewhere...

1 comment:

  1. I just think it's odd that governments and the media release photos of criminals' corpses all the time, but somehow they think they shouldn't release a photo of the corpse of Public Enemy #1. It's perverse. It's not that people want to be voyeurs, it's that the #1 terrorist should not be sheltered or accorded rights or favors that were not given to other dead criminals.


So, what do you think?