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All Apologies

I did apologize. Right here. I said I was sorry for using the word whores. Most of the nasty mail and various trackbacks - even some comments - I am getting on the subject have one specific and important thing wrong. I was referring to people who hosted or posted the pictures. I never said anything about linking to. My harsh feelings about this stem from the bad taste left in my mouth after Nick Berg was murdered. The resulting chest beating over big hit counts from some bloggers who hosted the video made me sick. Some people have one reason for posting pictures of Paul Johnson or Nick Berg. Some people have other reasons. Perhaps I should have been more specific, but I swear it was not five minutes after Drudge first posted those pictures that I saw one blogger hosting them and got an email from another blogger talking about his sudden surge in hits from people looking for beheading pictures. I definitely made some broad suggestions with my post. But a lot of people made broad suggestions in their emails and their own posts about it. My words were meant to be a stab at those who hosted the Nick Berg video and then bragged about their stats for days after. It was a pre-emptive strike against those who were planning on doing the same thing with photos of Paul Johnson. I understand why some people felt the need to post the pictures or the Berg video. But this is the internet. You have to understand that mostly, you are not catering to people who need to be woken up by being shown the savagery of our enemies; you are catering to those who will find you through Google, the people with nothing but ghoulish intentions. I hope it's a bit clearer as to what I was angry about, what I was reacting to, and who the words were aimed at. And I do apologize if anyone's feelings were hurt because I wasn't specific enough about it. I do hope the right people see this. Never try to write something like that when you are livid. It will never come out right and you will end up with a few less friends than when you started.


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"Never try to write something like that when you are livid. It will never come out right and you will end up with a few less friends than when you started."

A good rule of thumb, to be sure. But understand that if you're talking about friends, not acquaintances, hangers-on, or simply frequent commenters or fellow bloggers, you'd still likely have 'em.

Friends, in the proper sense of the word, don't ditch you after one angry outburst, especially one precipitated by horrific events outside your control. I'm just sayin'.

I don't think you owe anyone an apology.

I think your original statement still stands. They are/were whores for posting those photos.

1. I would amend to "only rarely should one blog while angry." There are times when the anger should come out, as when something is worthy of being angry about.

2. I still maintain the posting of the photos needed doing. I am not willing to judge the motivations of those doing it (unless they themselves speak of what their motivations are, then judge away).

I agree that by now, most people have taken sides, but it still doesn't hurt the prowar side (and those wavering) to be reminded graphically of what they are fighting.

The anti-war, pro-Saddam forces never seem to waver. Only the good guys seem to waver. Things like this help the good guys avoid the natural tendency toward fatigue.

Any selfish reason to post would be bad, but I am not yet going to judge someone for posting until they tell us a reason for posting (jacking up their own statistics) that would be worthy of being posted.

that would be worthy of being "criticized"--is what the last line of my last comment should say.

I should have a rule--never post in a hurry.

One of my two blogging rules: Don't blog angry. The other is: Don't blog drunk.

But y'know, rules were made to be broken. There are times when I put up something while I'm livid.

Don't apologize, Michele. You expressed your thoughts on the subject. Fuck 'em if they don't like what you think.

I'm with Jen. Real friends won't dump you because you got angry. Real friends will send you nasty email until you hash it out and become friends again.

That happened to me a couple of weeks ago with another blogger. Misinterpretations, we both got mad, sent a couple of emails, cooled off, then talked it out.

Anyway, we still love you, Michele.

People posting the pictures merely to boost their "hits" is disgusting and should be condemned.

Still, there are valid reasons to post them.

The National Review currently has an article about viewing Saddams torture video and reasons why we should all view them. Only by viewing them and the Abu Ghraib photos can you "appreciate" fully the vast differences between the two.

Equally, you more fully "apprecaite" why, regardless of any other reasons, Saddam had to be stopped. These Saddam torture videos are far more gruesome than anything you have ever seen. The NRO has a narrative of them. Be warned, they are the most gruesome thing you will ever see.

There is a link to the full NRO article on my site.


I stand corrected Michele. When you said those who post and host I thought the posting part also included those who link.

I personally would not host them because I just don't want them on my system.

As for people using these images for hits...yep. I was reminded by the Commissar of a certain guest blogger on a site who vomited a slew of conspiracy theories on the site and then told everyone to remember where they heard them first....all for hits. And yes, that is lower than low...it's downright revolting.

I obviously misunderstood what you were saying in that earlier post. Mea Culpa.


I concur with those here that say "don't apologize" for your post. Posting in anger, then following up with the reasons for that anger shows the fullness of you. We should never be afraid of our emotions; as I said on the other thread, they are our signposts along the way of things we need pay attention to. Embrace them, examine them, evaluate whether they are appropriate (if need be, change that portion of your thinking that gives way to inappropriate emotions), but don't disown them.

There are definitely whores out there ... why should the blogsphere be any different than any other human endeavor?
"Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first."
Ronald Reagan

I think you had every right to make the comment you did. I understand where you were coming from, but I also understand where some might be offended. They just have to learn to be a little forgiving, or maybe more careful on what they put on their sites. I did not want to see the Berg photos yet one page I linked to had them and I was not warned. I was offended. There were numerous places I could have linked to that said they had them if I had wanted to see them. I really like all the blogs I read regularly and none of them seemed to be gratuitous in their linking to the pics. I think more people carried the recent beheading photos but were also more careful to warn readers away if they didn't want to see them.
It seemed to me that most of them said words to the effect that viewing this should put all issues of Abu Grhaib out of our minds. In that case I consider it not gratuitous but for a cause. Still I understand your feelings.

You don't owe anyone an apology. You are entitled to your opinion. Isn't this America?

I'm hosting the images this time. I'm not sure why I decided to host these when I didn't host the Berg photos or others. I guess I'm just pissed off.

My decision has nothing to do with traffic or money. I don't have ads on the site so traffic is just money out of my pocket. I do have a paypal button but that hasn't been touched once in 2004 (my mom doesn't count).

I do agree that it is unfortunate that a large number of the people who seek out the images will do so for the wrong reasons. I asked someone at a party yesterday if he had seen them. He replied "Yeah, those were fucking cool." That response almost caused me to yank them from the server. However, I still believe that the brutality of our enemies should not be brushed under the rug.

I don't think your comments were out of line, Michele. That is not because I object to the Johnson pictures being published, but because your views help us understand the event. They're part of measuring what this murder means. On one hand, if we are never allowed to see images of what the terrorists do, only of what our side does, we may forget what the war is about. On the other hand, if the pictures become everyday objects, too familiar, they will lose their power to shock us. So, publish the pictures and be angry seems like a reasonable path forward.

Beyond that, I would speak against the rule "never blog in anger." Sometimes, blogging/speaking in anger is the way ahead. Anger has communicative value, just the way that market prices signal value. It lets other people see how their behaviour is perceived, the effects that behaviour has.

Maybe I'm nuts, but why would anyone need to see those photos? When told that someone's head was wacked off, it's easy enough to imagine what that would look like.

I understand the reasons to keep a visual record of certain events, mind you. I also understand why visuals would be used in a documentary, etc. I don't understand why a cadre of 2nd and 3rd tier bloggers would need to post and/or link to something that is already widely available for anyone looking for it to find it ... other than the hits.

At the risk of pissing off blogosphere acquaintances, if you lose them over something like that, they weren't friends, Michele.

It's really a question of motivation. If they're doing it to drive traffic then I can see the gripe. If they're doing it because they think people need to see the pictures to stiffen their spine a bit, then it's fine with me.

The only way these types of incidents build long-term traffic is if they fit in otherwise with your blog. At Kerryhaters we got lucky one time--I blogged about Alexandra Kerry's movie at Cannes a couple days before she showed up at the premiere in a see-through dress, so for a day or two we were the top result for Alexandra+Kerry+Cannes on Yahoo and Google. That worked, because I think a lot of the people who were looking were part of our target audience. OTOH, over at Brainster's I happened to mention Mitch Berg's blog (and must have said something about the nick of time) and boom major traffic when Nick Berg becomes the story. But that didn't last because I'm not running some "Faces of Death" blog.

What some people seem to be saying here is that whether a specific behavior - hosting unspeakably gruesome pictures - is to be seen as reprehensible or courageous depends on the "motivation" of the hoster - meaning whether their political philosophy happens to gibe with one's own.

Hogwash. As far as I'm concerned, it's wrong to exhibit images of a person who has been beheaded, irrespective of what political point you may or may not be attempting to make. Nobody needs to see a friggin' picture to understand what being beheaded means. Whether you're on the left or the right, the desire to whip your supporters into a frenzy is no better reason to do this than simple financial gain. The fact that the damn terrorists are undoubtedly rejoicing over those images at this very moment ought to give anyone else who would think of making use of them great pause. Hosting those sorts of images is simply wrong.

How to handle gory images, snuff videos, etc., with all the pros & cons and different perspectives, is worth a lot of discussion and debate.

Thanks for helping to heighten our collective awareness.

If a few folks think a little differently or handle it a little differently than "Woot! Lookit those snuff hits!" then it's been worth it.


I respectfully disagree. Below is the text of a comment I left over at Dean Esmay's blog. It mentions you, so I want you to see it directly. I'm not a bloodless 'git. I have had at least six personal friends killed by terrorists, whether it was in the Beirut or Nairobi embassy bombings, PA103, or even the BBC journalist shot last week in Saudi Arabia.

>>>The posting of pictures of violence is a complex issue. There's no question that seeing pictures of the dead, dying, dismembered is shocking and emotional.

But when is it the "right thing" to show those pictures? When is it wrong to supress them.

Media outside the US--with the minor exceptions of Canada and the UK, and less so in the rest of Europe--tend to show photos considerably more grisly than what Americans will put up with. Particularly in Africa and Asia, including the Middle East, you find front-page and TV new pictures that are utterly appalling by American standards. And you can be sure that they get an emotional response from the viewer.

It's not all politics, either. Indian papers will happily run a two-page spread of people half-eaten by tigers. Or pictures of a fire in an insane asylum, at least the charred-corpse aftermath.

But of course it can be political. Papers print pictures of nine-year-old boys with large chunks of their heads missing, the result of off-target munitions in Afghanistan. Or six-month-old babies with bullet holes in their backs, accidental victims of Israeli bullets.

The argument is that what has happened has, in fact, happened. It's the truth, or at least part of it. If people are too squeamish to face the facts, then perhaps they're should be more squeamish about supporting the activities that result in the fact.

I think the argument has some validity, particularly if all cultures played by the same rules. But we don't.

As noted in earier posts here, and with respect to Michele, we don't want to see gruesome pictures. The pictures of 9/11 are amazingly bloodless. There are no bodies, no body parts, no bloodstains. The only photo of a dead person in wide circulation is that of Fr. Michal. It's almost as if it didn't happen to real people.

Pictures of the people jumping and falling from the towers on 9/11 were supressed by the end of that same day. Too disturbing. Even a statue, "Falling Man", created to memorialize those dead, received enormous flack for its "insensitivity".

Israelis, whether for religious or cultural reasons, don't show bodies of people killed in terrorist attacks. Immediately after a bombing, the police and aid workers move media cameras at least two blocks away from the tragedy. At most, there're official pictures of bloodstains and body bags.

What this unequal treatment creates is an imbalance. Arab and Muslim and other third world audiences are getting emotionally ravaged by the photos and film they're seeing. We, not seeing those pictures, conclude that there's overreaction, or bloodthirstiness, or something else wrong going on. But we only see the antiseptic pictures.

And because we only see those tame pictures, Middle Eastern audiences are assuming that someone is preventing us from seeing them. That "someone", depending on the degree of sophistication by the arguer, can be the Administration, the media (and we "know" who owns them), or Israel out-and-out. Of course this isn't the case, but our behavior needs explanation.

I just don't think we can have it both ways. No, no one should have his/her eyes shoved into vile graphics. But they should be available to be seen, not quashed because they're upsetting. Violence, no matter who the perpetrator, is ugly. But sometimes, I think, one needs a visceral, not intellectual understanding of that.