Letter: Front-Page Photos of Victims
To the Editor:
I feel compelled to respond to Margaret Cassedy’s Jan. 3 letter (“A Right to Know, but No Need”) regarding what she described as the poor judgment of Valley News editors in publishing the photos of the children and adults murdered in Newtown on the front page. On that Tuesday morning, the tragedy still leaving me feeling as though I had been kicked in the gut, I picked up the paper and, through the orange plastic wrapper, saw pictures of the children. Without taking the paper out, I put it on top of a cabinet in my house. I didn’t want my first-grader to see it, and, honestly, I wasn’t ready to look.
It took me three days to be able to take the paper out and look at the faces of those children, who could so easily have been mine. I disagree with Cassedy’s assessment that this was unnecessarily upsetting. We need to be this upset. Conscience demands it. It is necessary that we see exactly what has been lost by our putting off the politically difficult work of passing sane, effective gun policy in this country and building a system of caring for and supporting the families of the mentally ill. As a recent article on CNN.com reminded us, it wasn’t until the mother of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old boy who was brutally murdered in Mississippi for allegedly “flirting” with a white woman, published the images of her child’s dead body that people were moved to take meaningful action on a large scale. I’m not suggesting the Valley News go this far, but I applaud the difficult decision to publish those photos, and I think we owe it to ourselves to look at them again and again until we make a lasting change.