There’s a sentiment I’ve encountered again lately: Don’t show photographs of dead or injured/traumatized people in the news. Why? Because “showing this doesn’t add anything to the story”, because “showing the dead takes their dignity”, because “children shouldn’t see this.”
While I respect why people would argue like this, I assume most if not all arguments actually originate from a very human desire:
Don’t make me feel uncomfortable.
At university, I was blessed with a range of extraordinary and inspirational tutors. One of my favourites was Professor Patrick McGuinness, who encouraged – perhaps since he’s also a poet – nonlinear thinking, making of connections, and explorations. I was particularly struck and moved by his analysis of Mallarme’s Pour Un Tombeau D’Anatole – “210 sheets of pencilled notes towards a poem about the death of [his son] Anatole”. He subsequently translated the work. In 2002, a section of McGuinness’ translation was published in the LRB, along with brief notes. Having recently becoming a parent (with “Anatole” on the baby-naming shortlist…), I wanted to re-read it. It still shatters, moves, uplifts me, because of rather than despite its broken form, and I encourage you to read it.
Journalism seems like a precarious profession to practise in Mexico. It’s ranked by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) as one of the most dangerous places to be a journalist.
The latest tragic example of this came on Friday 27th October, in the southern state of Oaxaca, with the shooting of Brad Will. Brad was in Oaxaca as a journalist for New York City Indymedia, trying to get stories out about the protests in Oaxaca (for up-to-date accounts and context of the crisis in Oaxaca, read my GV colleague David Sasaki’s latest post). While filming skirmishes between paramilitaries and protestors in Santa Lucia on Friday afternoon, Brad was shot in the abdomen and neck, and died from his injuries, prompting the CPJ to call on the government to investigate Will’s death. Now Indymedia has released the tape that was in Brad’s video camera when he was shot.
It’s a sixteen-minute video with English subtitles, and beware, the last minute (from 15’30) is very difficult to watch. Click here to launch the Quicktime video (there’s a YouTube version without subtitles here).
There’s more footage at Mexican opposition blog Hoy PG, which points to a piece of unidentified news footage of Brad Will shortly after he was shot – not for the faint-hearted.
It’s a moot point whether these are human rights videos per se, but Brad’s tape in particular ends so shockingly, and depicts with such brutal suddenness the risks run by those determined to bring human rights stories to light, that it demands to be seen. But as one of the blogs David Sasaki quotes had it, there’s a balance to be struck between outrage at the killing of Brad Will, and at the mounting number of local deaths and injuries.