Oct 23 2006

The Pornography of Violence: The Special Case for Africans

Category: Uncategorized<ADMINNICENAME> @ 6:30 PM

The New York Times can’t put dead Americans in Iraq on its front page, by order of the U.S. government, but African governments have no power over the paper — so dead Africans are regular guests on page one of the New York Times. Today’s photo of three dead Sudanese, reportedly people killed by rebel forces in Darfur, is the latest example of how Africans are fodder for the pornography of violence that periodically erupts in American media
I think editors are justified in publishing photos of the dead. The horror of war is a legitimate subject for the media. But let’s not hew to a double-standard, depicting the dead Africans, because no one can speak on their behalf, while withholding the photos of dead Americans in Iraq, because the U.S. government holds powerful sway over newspapers and broadcasters in America. My point seems especially relevant this month, when more than 80 Americans have died in combat in Iraq. The New York Times hasn’t published any photos of these war dead (though the paper did provide a good account of the eye-witness films of Americans getting killed in Iraq that are available on the Web).
So long as the Times and other media protect the dignity of Americans killed in combat by not showing them lying dead in the dirt, Africans should be afforded the same dignity.

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