The Daily News slapped New York readers in the face Thursday. It slapped them in the face with a still sequence from a snuff video.
I think I know why the editors did that, and I won't outright condemn them for it because the benefit of the doubt says their motives were pure. The benefit of the doubt says someone who thought that posting images from a snuff film made by a deranged terrorist -- a terrorist in the purest sense of the word -- would boost street sales is a terrible businessman, either that or someone who's calculated that America has reached some sort of psychopathic critical mass.
I don't know. Maybe it has.
I can understand -- maybe -- someone's curiosity getting the better of them and their watching the video. Once. Not a noble curiosity, but a human one nevertheless -- curiosity, after all, is what led Eve to the Tree of Life and a fatal taste of the forbidden fruit.
|Alison Parker and Adam Ward|
Merely seeing the aftermath of such evil, such uncut horror, is why so many cops and paramedics end up messed up. Images like the last in the sequence the tabloid put on its front page, here for God and everybody to behold, are the pictures that combat veterans cannot get out of their minds. The moments of death that come to them in their dreams, cause them to awaken screaming in the night and, for some, cause them to blot out the terrible images with a bullet to the brain.
BUT THERE it is on the front page of the Daily News, the moment that gunshots cut down WDBJ reporter Alison Parker, 24. The moment she realized she was going to die. The moment before the gunman killed television photojournalist Adam Ward, 27, and shot a regional chamber of commerce director, Vicki Gardner, who survived.
To look into Alison Parker's eyes is to know her horror.
My hope is that the Daily News editors' intent was to force Americans to realize that the sudden horror that swept over Alison Parker as a fusillade from a Glock semiautomatic pistol began to tear into her body is, in fact, the unremitting horror of a gun-crazy -- no, an increasingly crazy crazy -- nation. An ongoing, largely preventable horror.
My conviction is that, if my hope is well placed, the Daily News editors are deeply naive. You can't argue with crazy people and bought-off politicians, and Americans today are stark, raving mad while their elected representatives, many of them, are wholly owned subsidiaries of the National Rifle Association.
Americans were not frightened enough by Virginia Tech to tighten up this country's firearm free-for-all one bit. Ditto for Aurora.
Sandy Hook upset folks a little bit, but it wasn't anything that the NRA and more The Bachelor and Dancing With the Stars couldn't nip in the bud.
By the time a fledgling neo-Confederate massacred nine praying African-Americans in a Charleston, S.C., church, an angry right-wing nut shot up a movie theater in Louisiana and a disgruntled ex-reporter gunned down his former colleagues in Virginia, we had come to the conclusion that the aftermath of yet another American gun massacre was an inappropriate time to talk about preventing yet more American gun massacres.
Just because we've become a nation of gun-worshiping lunatics doesn't mean we have to be indecorous. That is something best left to Donald Trump and late-night infomercials for herbal male-enhancement pills.
After all, this is America. The only thing we love as much as a big iron on our hip is a big iron in our pants. Fretting over the mounting death toll just distracts us from the important things in life . . . down here in the abyss.
And force-feeding deadly, intimate and graphic things we've no right to gawk at will not, at long last, cause those who live in this heart of darkness to see the light. If you ask me, The Horror is us.
POSTSCRIPT: I watched the video, alas, because I wanted to get my facts and my chronology straight. As I write, it is either very late or very early -- take your pick -- and I fear sleep, for fear of what I'll dream. God help us all.