September 12, 2003

Feed my eyes, can you sew them shut

Eric Muller is mad at Glenn Reynolds for briefly posting a photo of one of the people who fell or jumped off the World Trade Center two years plus one day ago. Here is my open letter to Mr. Muller (I was going to post this in the comments but I decided it was too long for Haloscan):

Dear Mr. Muller:

At the end of your rant, you say: "I'm arguing that a responsible journalist (of Instapundit's sort) ought to give his readers at least a measure of control over when, and under what circumstances, they see such an image." This sentence, an updated addendum to your post, has so many things wrong with it that I hardly know where to begin. Let's start here:

With all due respect, what the hell are you talking about? There's this thing in most browsers called a back button. You use the mouse thingie or use the trackball or pad thingie to put the cursor thingie over said button, and click. The bad web page will go away. You can also close the browser entirely, or you can avoid all media including the internet. That way you will never be bothered by any bad news that is not under your "control."

I'm really not understanding your position here. You are angry at someone for posting a picture of something everyone commenting on your site has already seen? (You don't mention never having seen pictures of the people falling from the towers. If you have not, then maybe your shock is understandable.) Can we say "misplaced anger"? What about focusing your anger at the proper target -- at the terrorists who made those pictures possible by causing the event so pictured, and at their many fans, supporters, and apologists?

Oh, but I see that you already have a position on that. You think that blogs, like newspapers, need an editorial board akin to that of a newspaper. And you somehow -- by some twisty thought process that I can't fathom -- think an elite group (which is what an editorial board is) deciding what goes into a paper somehow gives its readers control over the content of that paper. Right. Does that mean that I can call up the Orlando Sentinel and demand that they run whatever story I want to read? Because that would be really cool.

No really, this is ridiculous. Massive readership or not, Instapundit is a personal blog. There is no way you can demand or expect him or any other blogger to dumb down, pretty up, or safety-net any of the content of their personal blogs beyond whatever anti-pr0n rules their hosting services demand. Reynolds is not a "journalist" -- he writes opinion columns for some publications, and links to news he feels is of interest on his own website, but he is under no obligation to post or not post anything at anyone else's demand. I can only echo the sentiments of most of the other people who were so mean to poor little you, and tell you that if you really can't stand the idea that you might go to someone's website and be confronted with something that is shocking and disturbing, then you need to stop going on the internet.

You may now re-assume the fetal position. Everyone else visit Jessica's Well.

Update: even better said.

Last update I swear: here is Glenn Reynolds' post on the matter. He has links to even more articles -- some featuring The Pictures.

Posted by Andrea Harris at September 12, 2003 09:09 PM

I find it fascinating that people who object to broadcasting (or posting) pictures like that are so often the same ones who want to show pictures of, and endlessly discuss, American and Israeli "atrocities". And, of course, we mustn't set off those jingoistic rednecks.

This is not to say Mr. Muller is one of those, I don't know, but there appears to be a rather strong correlation.

Posted by: Ken Summers at September 12, 2003 at 10:10 PM

Andrea, great post! I had written about this myself, but you and PhotoDude have just demonstrated that I needn't have bothered. Between the two of you, you nailed it.

Posted by: ilyka at September 13, 2003 at 06:36 AM

Mr. Muller is full of shit. Those people had seconds to decide whether to die by fire or a long fall. Can you imagine that sort of terror? I doubt it. Why in the hell should that story be sanitized or ignored?

Somtimes real life is horrific. Sorry that turns your stomach, Mr. Muller. Go back to bed.

Posted by: Bob Whaley at September 13, 2003 at 02:14 PM

Yep, Mr. Muller is full of shit. The photo needs to be seen and pondered. I saw it on Glenn's site and scarfed it for my own. And it's staying up.

I've written a blurb on it in my post, but, in a nutshell, the man was faced with a horrible choice and chose to jump rather than burn to death. A courageous move and a damning indictment of the bastards that put him in that predicament.

BTW, are you still pinging It's not showing up on my blogroll and I use that to know what to read. PLEASE start pinging again.

Posted by: Robert Prather at September 13, 2003 at 06:05 PM

I quit automatically pinging because it was taking forever (either was having some sort of problem or my server was). I try to remember to manually ping, but I often forget. I may go back to automatic pinging -- but rest assured it is a rare day that I don't have at least one post up.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at September 13, 2003 at 10:11 PM

Since you use MT you can send more than one ping. Send directly to blogrolling; it's much faster. Just paste the following URL in your box for same:

Posted by: Robert Prather at September 20, 2003 at 02:51 PM

I should clarify: leave the pings to and unchecked and add that string to the text box. That will be fast and, if you think about it, most of the people that use the information do so via their blogroll; maximum value and minimal impact.

Posted by: Robert Prather at September 20, 2003 at 04:22 PM