President Obama announced Wednesday that he will not release photos of the corpse of Osama bin Laden.
While the decision will surely fuel a new round of conspiracy theorists who will argue that “they” must have something to hide, I think it was absolutely the right call to make.
We don’t need to see a corpse.
If we did, the same people who are whispering conspiracy now would do so anyway, insisting that somehow, the photo was a fake. They’d never accept it as being authentic.
And for those who would view the photo out of some morbid fascination, what kind of closure is there to be gained from looking at a bullet-ridden face that you can’t gain from just hearing confirmation that the death itself has occurred?
If the photo were to have been released, there would have been no stopping its dissemination. Bin Laden’s supporters would have been further inspired to retaliate, a result that conservatives would have never stopped shouting about if such a retaliation happened.
But more importantly, what about our children? Do they really need to see those photos?
Let’s not pretend, even in a joking manner, that if the photos had been released, that kids wouldn’t have flocked to computers to see for themselves, or that they wouldn’t have been exposed to them one way or another.
I saw an interview Tuesday night in which a combat photographer said the photos should be released, but not to the media. Her idea was that the photos should only be posted online, so that the media couldn’t gain access.
There’s no way something of this magnitude can be released to the public without the media getting it.
Just yesterday, a South Carolina television station posted a Facebook message from its news director; she wanted to know what her viewers thought about whether the station should broadcast the photos if they were released.
The fact that the question was even being considered should speak volumes.
My response, which, curiously, vanished shortly after I posted it, was that if the station were to get its hands on the photos, they should not be broadcast, but posted on their website, and only behind a warning that would require a viewer who really wanted to see it to acknowledge that they really wanted to see it.
That wouldn’t prevent kids from viewing them, of course, but it’d be far more of a hindrance than seeing the images on television during the dinner hour.
Then there are those who will automatically reject everything the government tells them, insisting that nothing our government says can be trusted.
I am still waiting for a valid explanation as to why these people still voluntarily live here. Surely there’s another government somewhere that would be more honest in their eyes, unless it just so happens that ours is, in their minds, the most honest in a planet of dishonest ones. And if that’s the case, in the grand scheme of things, they have far less reason to complain than they realize.