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31 October 2003

A Crime of Stupefying Proportions and Why I don't publish certain pictures

I have just discovered this great new blog: Dave Pollard's How to Save the World. There is a post there with the title A Crime of Stupefying Proportions, with a really gruesome picture from a slaughterhouse. The post, riffing off of a reading of J. M. Coetzee's book Elizabeth Costello, is a long and thoughtful piece about how to react to the overwhelming evil in the world. Here is a longish quote:
"Our world, past and present and probably future, is full of these horrors, this massive tide of suffering and blood. When we show pictures of malnourished children, when we give them money and food to prolong their lives until the next famine or crippling disease, when I force you to look at the picture at the top of this post and tell you that all of these horrors happen millions of times every day, in every neighbourhood on Earth, is that a wake-up call, probably repulsive and probably ineffective but an important service nevertheless, or is it an obscenity, something no one wants or needs to see or hear or learn about?"
I had to bring this up because when I posted about the California fire I was tempted to post pictures, many of which are awe-inspiring, but a little voice kept whispering "disaster porn" in my ear and I just couldn't use the sufferings of others to give my blog some visual punch.
In a related but different dilemma, there is a widely circulating photo of Miss Afghanistan in a bikini. I would really like to post that picture with the question "Is this what the liberation of women looks like?" I would love to get the debate out there, raise a little consciousness. The problem is, my own answer is a resounding "No" so I would be feeding the very flame I want to put out.
But to get back to Dave's original question, I don't have an answer to that either.

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