I learned that Washington Post Through a growing network of bereaved families and survivors of domestic weapon-war gun violence, a blockbuster feature was planned about the way AR-15 rifles destroy human bodies with gruesome photographs. Scheduled for Thursday, the project might have included what some tone-deaf supporters of better gun regulation say would be a political game-changer: bloody photos of murdered children, to show the horror that Many Americans reportedly ignore.
Thank God, this did not happen.
make decisions based on Post From editor Sally Buzbee’s introduction to the project, as well as my own reporting, the newspaper spoke to dozens of survivors and family members and weighed the vast range of their opinions about the issue to produce this feature. It was much better than I expected, it just didn’t convince me at first how bad it was. But kind of bad: The media, as well as some types of activists, believe that we need to be presented with graphic, gruesome evidence in order to understand what the facts are. He believes this horrific evidence will change hearts and minds.
Not like that. More than three-quarters of American voters support almost every common-sense gun law. And we know why political leaders have ignored their calls: the gun lobby, and its despicable political minions. But Post Anyway, tried with my multimedia “Terror on Repeat” project. I will not question the intentions of these journalists. I will assume they are good. I’ll just tell you what I saw, and why I’d like to keep people from seeing the same thing. Especially the survivors.
Let me also say this here: If you are not a bereaved survivor of violence, and especially if you are white, keep the name of Emmett Till’s mother out of your mouth. (I’ll say more about this later.)
heySince you’ve prepared to see Bullet-Riding Kids, and you don’t, everything starts from there. But PostNevertheless, its characterization is difficult. One justification for this comes early: “This weapon, easy to operate and widely available, is now used in more of the nation’s deadliest mass killings than any other.” This is true and should be more widely known.
The worst thing: the Post Forces you to look at the photo to read the text. It has the slow-loading text/graphic presentation that has become popular online. In this case, it means you linger over bloody scenes for too long, waiting for the next part of the story to come whether you want to or not. This is exploitative, my Post Friend. I expected a story with a slideshow that I could decide to click on (or not). I’m not sure which sadist decided this was a better idea.
The big picture: “Terror on repeat” shows one Very Once the victims’ bodies are cleaned up, the bloody AR-15 at the crime scene. Their bodies have been cleaned, but not their flip-flops or sneakers or clothes or backpacks. We see unbearably thick pools of blood – medium pools that have been covered for yards by first responders trying to save victims or retrieve their bodies. This is devastating. I haven’t eaten food yet today.
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It shows the shot-up classrooms and city streets and houses of worship, the bullet-riddled, bullet-ravaged results of bloody brutality. The blown corner of a Jewish prayer book from the 2018 Tree of Life synagogue massacre, which left 11 dead and six injured, is particularly hair-raising. So are there bullet wounds in the walls and pillars and fallen pillars – in the wake of frantic congregants fleeing? – The 2017 mass shooting at the Sutherland Springs, Texas, First Baptist Church, which left 28 people dead. The physical devastation caused by these ungodly weapons is a specialty in itself, if one wants to save us from this gore.
There are at least two videos. One I saw, and with a sound as it rolled automatically. By the time the second one played, I had turned my voice down, and I’m grateful.
What I saw and heard was from the Las Vegas massacre, which began while (ironically?) right-wing hero Jason Aldean was on stage. He and his band continued playing and some strange rhythmic rat-tat-tat sounds began to sound, and then it became clear that it was automatic gunfire, and he and his band ran away. You can see below that the crowd realizes what is happening and is trying to protect each other. It’s horrifying, but you don’t see anyone getting shot.
The second was a short video filmed by a survivor of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Apparently there are injured children in it, who you can’t see but can only hear crying for help. After the Las Vegas video, I disabled the sound so I only read the subtitles, but it was pretty bad. I’m glad I didn’t hear it, but I wish I had never seen it.
Amidst the gruesome photographs (which you can’t avoid) is the testimony of witnesses, either directly by the interviewer. Post or collected from official public proceedings. Since I am writing this to protect those who have been or will be offended by these details, I am not quoting liberally. Here are some that are descriptive rather than graphic, ranging from the mundane to the horrifying. And all heartbreaking.
“I heard what sounded like metal chairs falling, and I thought it was for a holiday event or something.”Abe Clements, teacher. Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Conn.
“I could hear people screaming, and I could hear people – you know, the last words were spoken, things that were – fear, and very horrible sounds. And then finally it started to calm down. And that was the worst part, knowing that peace meant the worst.”Morgan Workman, Church Congregation, Sutherland Springs
“After a while, I could see that she had been shot and she was not going to survive… I kissed my fingers, and I touched my fingers to her skin…. I yelled, ‘Mom.'”-Andrea Weidner, Synagogue Congregation, Pittsburgh
I am deliberately leaving out the details of the literal massacre. And there are many more.
I‘Sadly, mass shootings have been covered up for too long. I was the editor of author Dave Cullen salonBased on his critical dispatches from the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, the stories he turned into an award-winning book, Columbine. I’ve thought about the ethics of all our reporting and even changed my mind – from naming/highlighting the shooters (who want to) to showing photos of people, especially children. , whose bodies were blown up by these war weapons, may change their minds.
I wondered, maybe? Now I think: no. Now I think this is a cruel, exploitative argument, a view I have come to primarily from knowing the families of victims. There is no one more important to me than Nelba Marquez-Green, the mother of Sandy Hook – I started to write “victim”, but that felt inadequate, then “angel”, but Nelba told me how “angel” was positioned and so on. Kind of… mother of the irreplaceable Ana Grace Marquez-Green, who would have turned 17 this year, and who is greatly missed, not only by her family but by those of us who never knew her.
Nelba, a physician and grief worker of amazing wisdom and integrity, now teaching at the Yale School of Public Health, taught many people why no one has the right to demand that she or another parent kill them. Share photos after. Children. he did it in a new York Times Op-ed and in an interview with me last year on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the Sandy Hook horror.
Here’s what she said to me then (and why I feel so strongly about ignorant, predominantly white people who use one particular example against these families): “I used one tragedy as a weapon against another. Making was not appreciated. They weaponized the sacred story of Emmett Till and his mother against me, and it was a sick thing. And I give full respect to that family. But [his mother] There was an option. This was not done forcefully. He was not pushed.”
And about the notion that politicians would change their minds about gun laws if they saw these photos: “They know what these bullets do! Our government officials have access to everything. They have testimony from emergency room physicians, police officers, victims – and many victims have shared photos! You want to sensationalize the dead body of a 6 year old child. And I have two words for that. Two words I will not repeat today.”
nelba blasted Post Wednesday night on Instagram. As Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jamie died in the 2018 Parkland massacre, said on Twitter: “I spoke with reporters months ago and shared my opinion that this was unnecessary and traumatic for those of us Must be those who have been affected by the gun.” Violence.” He offered long, heartfelt lines explaining his anger and grief.
When I contacted him, he sent me this: “I am upset that this article exists, but I also understand why it is. It is very sad for my family, especially my wife. My hope is that now that it exists, everyone will focus on the reality that America already has it. Over 80% of America wants this handled and the reality that elected officials choose to ignore the pictures and videos and not do the right thing is what matters to me. This should be the top voting issue of 2024.
Post The feature uses the largest number of photographs and quotes from the Robb Elementary School massacre in mostly Latino Uvalde, Texas. For Marquez-Green, this is no accident: “Black, brown, and poor white communities are less likely to be able to defend themselves,” he wrote; The Sandy Hook parents, suburban and almost all white, had the legal and financial means to get most of the images sealed.
Re: No actual photographs of the victims are used in this project.
But a lawyer for Uvalde told me that a combination of photo descriptions and a quote from a survivor who ran with him could help families figure out which child they were witnessing the death of. “People have used ‘no bodies’ photos as justification. But [seeing] The material is sufficient,” the lawyer told me. “The phrase ‘no body’ has become a motivator for families.”
A group of Uvalde families posting on Instagram under the name “LifeRobbed” shared Thursday: “This is how we choose to remember our loved ones.” It featured photographs of adorable murdered fourth grade students as they lived: dressed up for Halloween, wearing football outfits, cuddling their pets, hugging their friends, and teachers who Died, embracing their husbands, embracing their children.
The montage posted by “LivesRobbed” is actually harder to watch than the bloody-mayhem photos. Post The pictures disturbed me, even made me gag. These beautiful pictures made me cry.