Pay No Attention to the Dead Bodies

The folks at FEMA don’t want you to see pictures, video, or artists renditions of Hurricane Katrina’s victims as they are recovered from New Orleans.

Forced to defend what some critics consider its slow response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said on Tuesday it does not want the news media to take photographs of the dead as they are recovered from New Orleans.

FEMA, which is leading the rescue efforts, rejected requests from journalists to accompany rescue boats as they went out to search for storm victims, Reuters reported.

A FEMA spokeswoman told the wire service that space was need on the rescue boats and assured Reuters that “the recovery of the victims is being treated with dignity and the utmost respect.”

“We have requested that no photographs of the deceased be made by the media,” the spokeswoman told Reuters via e-mail.

I was against the censorship of “sensitive” photos from 9/11 because I think they serve as a reminder for all Americans to never forget that day and to guard against similar events from happening again. But when it comes to natural disasters, or plane crashes, or the local newspaper publishing a photo of the house fire victim, I don’t think a public viewing is necessary. It’s voyeurism, and right now, looking at bodies that have been soaking in water and baking in 100 degree heat isn’t a “have to” in my book.

Years from now someone can publish a big coffee table book with glossy photos, a historical timeline, and a bunch of satellite maps (ala LIFE Magazine). For now though, stuff the death pictures in a drawer. 

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