Sensationalistic documentary film maker and rabble-rouser Michael Moore has a shocking proposal for dealing with gun control. He says we should release photos of the slain victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Newtown. It sounds horrifying and insensitive at the very least. And so, so wrong. But after I actually took the time to read his reasons, I have to admit: I think he's right.
Seeing photos showing exactly what Adam Lanza's guns did to those children would totally change how we think about guns.
But is it worth it? I say this with a heavy heart: I think so.
One big, huge caveat, of course: I would support these photos being released to the public only if the children's parents gave their unanimous consent. Otherwise, this would be a horrific and unjustifiable violation. I'd be surprised if that would ever happen -- so the whole question is mostly hypothetical anyway.
That said, the examples Moore gives are compelling. The way photos accelerated the civil rights movement and turned Americans against the Vietnam War is undeniable. Would we have cared as much about the Holocaust if all we had were numbers dead and words -- if we didn't have those haunting photographs? Images tell us so much more, instantly.
We take refuge in denial. It makes us feel safe. You can always find an ethical justification for not looking at a horror directly: It's disrespectful, too difficult. But staying in denial hurts us in the long run, as any good therapist will tell you. These children are already dead. They've already been sacrificed. Do we want their deaths to mean anything?
I've said before I don't believe in evil. I think blaming horrors on evil is a cop-out. When we confront a horror that we do not understand, we have two choices: Claim it's an evil too magical for us to solve, or look deeper and try to understand it so we can stop it. Seeing those photographs would give us the opportunity to think more deeply and critically about how to solve the problem we have with gun violence. If only we could muster the courage.
Do you think there's any justification for releasing photos of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting victims?
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