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Obama and the Bin Laden Photo

Updated on May 7, 2011

President Barack Obama

Presiden Obama and the issue of bin Laden's photo.
Presiden Obama and the issue of bin Laden's photo. | Source

Obama and the Bin Laden Photograph

A lot of debate has been triggered by the fact that President Barack Obama blocked the publishing of Osama bin Laden’s photograph, after US navy seals had killed him.  There are many arguments that can be generated for or against the issue of bin Laden’s photograph being released to the public. In this article, I would like to argue for the non-publishing of the photograph.

Violence abounds

In today’s society, violence ranges from the News broadcasts to movies and Games. Take a moment if you will, to think about the effects this has on young minds. It is understandable to report on violence but to use it as entertainment is merely prying on the human instinct to fight or flight. Games such as Killzone, Grand theft auto among others promote violence and killing very blatantly.  What does killing mean to the younger minds of today’s society? What message are we putting across to them by making available such material as entertainment?

Reality and fiction blur

The US and the world are in a fight against terrorism. War is an unfortunate choice in solving problems at this level. As ugly as it already is, do we need the graphic evidence of it? Some suggest this as concrete prove. With digital technology in the Photography and graphics field, images are manipulated in shocking realism with access to programmes such as Photoshop; the image is no longer a reliable aspect in the documentation of events. This then begs the question, what is real and what is not.

If some anonymous graphic artist could manipulate an image that causes a stir on the Internet, it is arguable that the Government could do the same with better results because they can acquire the means at a higher level. This blurs the line between reality and fiction vis-a vis the image extents to the social realm. Let us presume the photograph had been released, what would the mind of a game playing young mind think of it, how would it register in their violence infiltrated minds? Is it exciting, gruesome, decent to show? How would this affect their perspective of violence? It is in the movies and games already as entertainment, now you see it in real life with people clamouring to see the graphic evidence-while they celebrate the killing.  I must be quick to distance myself from the issue of celebrating the death. This is deeply personal and can be taken in different ways, depending on ones personal connection to the issue.


In my opinion, the following factors influence me to support President Obama on the issue of not releasing bin Laden’s photograph

1.     Images can be manipulated and therefore are not reliable evidence

2.     What is the moral basis of showing gruesome images of a killing and what is there to gain in it?

3.     What is the psychological effect this has on fragile minds?

This is my argument, but as mentioned above, each person has a right to their own opinion but from a collective consciousness point of view, it might become necessary to ere-evaluate the messages we are putting across through multi-media.

Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden photo-killed by US forces
Osama bin Laden photo-killed by US forces | Source


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