Well, that's it, the President doesn't think Americans are strong enough to stomach a look-see at the pictures of Osama bin Laden dead, the results of bullet wounds to the head and the chest. Needless to say, President Obama has been too busy running a country to catch a glimpse at the typical prime time line-up lately. But he might want to grab the remote and do some channel surfing before he sets this decision in stone.
Sure, the president had other reasons, reasons of national security that I'm inclined to agree with. But by couching the argument that images of a dead Osama bin Laden do not need be disseminated because of their graphic nature, I'm afraid the President showed how far out of touch the leader of the free world is with the rather aberrant tastes of the populace.
We live in a nation where CSI: Crime Scene Investigation received such a welcome that it spawned countless spin-offs (coming soon: CSI: Abottabad). Where the members of Criminal Minds' behavioral analysis unit are given graphic photos of people brutally raped and murdered on their iPads in front of millions of viewers every Wednesday night. Where the Halo series, a game rated M for Mature, ranks as perhaps the best-selling video game ever because players are on a mission to kill, not despite it.
Americans have largely become immune to grisly images. We expect it, demand it. We might not, as Jon Stewart said, connect the concept of war with the actual casualties without seeing the photos. But then again, disturbing imagery on the news or in movies has done little to curb violent crime in America. It has not forced us to face the results of horrific acts, it has made us that much more willing to accept that, yes, bad things happen in this world.
This is why Americans want to see the photos. Not because of some lame brain conspiracy theories, but because they don't see what's such a big deal. They're curious, albeit morbidly. And they've been conditioned to think that nothing is off-limits.
I can say this with some assurance because most of my friends and family believe the President at his word. The liberals and the right wingers both, they trust that Osama bin Laden is dead. And yet, the majority have expressed an interest in seeing the photos, if not to me personally, then by clicking on the Facebook scam that was circulating this week -- a supposed BBC video of a dead bin Laden (it was a hoax, but it appeared several times on my Facebook feed because when someone fell for it, it automatically was forwarded to their friends -- the sheer number of times it appeared proved to me there's a taste from both sides for these photos, a sense on both sides that they can "handle it.").
Honestly, if the photos make their way out, I won't be looking. I much prefer ogling Shemar Moore on Criminal Minds to slasher victims. But what I can stomach is up for me to decide -- not a bunch of guys in Washington.
Do you think the photos would be too grisly for you to handle? Why do you want to see the photos? Or why not, for that matter?
Image via FBI