Take a look at this picture. Do you find it offensive?
Some may argue that the reportage element to this photo is offensive.
Others might be offended at the amount of blood is in this photo.
Still others might be offended at the sight of the gunshot wound.
And then there are some who are offended because they say that they see the wounded man’s penis in the photo.
This photo was published in the Roanoke Times on April 17.
Almost immediately, newspaper readers began to debate the image. A message board devoted to the Detroit Free Press sparked a debate the next morning over whether the picture actually showed genitalia. The Hartford Courant was bombarded with complaints, many of which reader representative Karen Hunter posted online.You’ve got to be kidding me. More than thirty people were killed, and you’re worried that this dude’s dong is showing? Why are you looking so closely at the photo anyway?
"You are showing his penis right on the front page," one Courant reader complained to Hunter. "I think that's disgusting.... I think you should have blocked it out or something."
Over at the New York Post, editors anticipated that exact response. The Post ran the picture big and in color, but cloned out the flesh-colored shape protruding from the student's lap. Across town, the archrival Daily News ran the picture unedited.
People edited the photo, while its sister magazine Time ran the picture unedited.
Look. Humankind, in all its glory, is as much bloody, gory, dirty, smelly, pus filled, and evil as it is beautiful, loving, flowery and brilliant. But to get up in arms about whether or not you see his penis in the photo (I'm still not even convinced that's what it is), to focus on it and then call it "disgusting," is missing the point altogether.
And it's not like the newspaper published this photo out of some prurient motivation. "If it bleeds, it leads," as they say. Get your heads out of the gutter.
(Photo credit: Alan Kim/The Roanoake Times)