SNN News Director on Gun Violence
Fifty years ago this week, an Associated Press photographer took a picture that may have helped shorten the Vietnam War. The photo came to be known as “Napalm Girl.” If you are of a certain age, you are mentally recalling that shot right now.
Writing today in the Washington Post, Nick Ut recalls watching as a South Vietnamese village was hit with several napalm shells. He heard a screaming child and saw a young girl who had pulled off her burning clothes. He took the shot, but instantly dropped his camera to help.
That child, Kim Phuc Phan Thi, now 59 years old, draws a parallel between what happened to her and her village a half-century ago and gun violence here in the U-S. Appearing in the Times today, Kim Phu writes, “I cannot speak for the families in Uvalde, Texas, but I think that showing the world what the aftermath of a gun rampage truly looks like can deliver the awful reality. We must face this violence head-on, and the first step is to look at it.”
She joins a growing chorus to reveal the graphic results of what weapons of war do to victims of domestic gun violence. She writes. “It is easier to hide from the realities of war if we don’t see the consequences.”
Others are calling for an “Emmett Till moment,” in which the 14-year-old Till, accused of whistling at a white woman in a Mississippi grocery store, was tortured and lynched. His mother demanded photos of her son in his open casket be published to show the world what had been done to her son. Some credit her decision sparked a change in the country’s view of Jim Crow and segregation.
As I write this piece, I look up to see a story airing on SNN about the two mass shootings this weekend:
That video encapsulates why I don’t believe there is any chance for a second Emmitt Till moment. Given their frequency, scenes like these in Philly and even Uvalde are too common and as a result, do not spark outrage.
ABC News reported this morning we have witnessed 33 mass shootings in this country since Uvalde with 34 killed. 157 injured. At least 246 incidents in 2022 so far.
Not sure what it will take, but viewing the remains of victims so damaged beyond recognition is not the key. Too many of us have likely seen worse in video games or in the movies. And many of us can write the script for either side if any photos are released.
So, for what it’s worth, I am opposed to showing any shooting victim photos. As a rule already in effect, SNN does not show murder victims at local crime scenes out of respect for families, law enforcement and you, our viewers.
Kim Phuc concludes her Times piece with, “I believe that peace, love, hope and forgiveness will always be more powerful than any kind of weapon.’
Powerful forces without a doubt. But, we need more. Our elected leaders, law enforcement, the clergy and most of all, you and I, need to come together and work on realistic solutions before it’s too late.
That’s how we view things this week.