If I’m the editor of a newspaper or television program, I have the choice to publish images which will most likely cause continued violence in the Middle East, possibly result in the deaths of innocent people and further hinder Iraq and Afghanistan’s crawl toward a stable, independent democracy.
It seems the way to answer my dilemma is to ask a question – who will it harm if I publish them?
The media has faced that question twice in the last month. For the most part the American media followed to wildly different paths in the two cases.
What is the difference between publishing the Danish cartoons and the Abu Ghraib photos? If you make your stand on free speech and standing up to pressure, then why publish one and not the other?
I can see only one reason for the renewed emphasis on Abu Ghraib photos – they can hurt Bush and the war effort. Both would incite radical Muslims to violence, but only one can damage Republicans politically.
My own personal opinion – I would publish neither. It is possible to cover the story without showing the offensive material, as the majority of the US press did with the cartoon story.
There is nothing new about the Abu Ghraib photos or the Danish cartoons. The photos are not any more recent than the other batch of photos that dominiated the news months ago. The cartoons had been published weeks before radical Islamic clerics used them to provoke violence.
I get sick of news organizations hiding behind “free speech” when it suits their agenda or purposes, but ignoring it when it does them no good – politically speaking.
The principled position would be to publish both or neither, but how long has it been since the press had principles?