Saunders

Saunders: We don't need to see bin Laden photos

Staff WriterMay 5, 2011 

Face it: there are some things we just don't need to see - the first ex-wife in Spandex; the John Edwards-Rielle Hunter sex tape, and post-mortem pictures of Osama bin Laden.

Even before the smoke cleared from the M16 assault rifle, or whatever weapon sent bin Laden to his just rewards, news outlets, cynics and the morbidly curious were demanding pictures. Like the coroner in "The Wizard of Oz," they want proof that bin Laden is not "just merely dead, but really most sincerely dead."

Don't do it, Mr. President. Any momentary glee some Americans may derive from seeing bin Laden's bullet-shredded corpse will be offset by international furor that may spawn even more bin Ladens.

Ebrahim Moosa, professor of religion and Islamic studies at Duke University, said showing pictures of bin Laden'sbody "will create a sense of outrage" internationally and will be seen as "dancing on someone's grave."

Nothing in Islamic law says you can't show a person'sbody, Moosa said, but it's not a question of law.

"It's a question of morals and taste," he said. "Some people in the U.S. might get some satisfaction. ... A lot of people in other parts of the world will ask, 'For what purpose?'"

For what purpose, indeed.

Skeptics will cite any refusal to release pictures as proof that the "assassination" was a ruse by President Barack Obama to distract us from high gas prices or to spitefully interrupt Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" show Sunday night.

Making the pictures of bin Laden public would put to rest such doubt, right?

Hah. Remember when Obama recently released the long form of his birth certificate as a way of silencing the babbling birthers who claim he was born outside the U.S. and therefore is occupying their White House illegally?

No sooner had the document been released than mouth-breathers were claiming to have seen the president at Kinko's doing some late-night Photoshopping of a forged birth certificate. It's unlikely the document persuaded even one birther to cease his or her protest. Likewise, nary a person who doubts that bin Laden was killed will be satisfied if the president reverses himself and releases gruesome pictures of bin Laden's lifeless body.

One day in the late 1960s, while waiting to pick up a prescription for my granddaddy at Fox Drug Store in Rockingham, I picked up one of those sensationalistic tabloids. On its cover was a grainy picture, taken with a telescopic lens, of a woman who looked a bit like Jacqueline Kennedy.

The woman was pushing a wheelchair in which sat a man with a white bandage wrapped around his head. The accompanying story reported that President John F. Kennedy had survived Lee Harvey Oswald's assassination attempt but was so injured that the family was keeping him on a remote island.

Although hundreds saw the assassination and millions have seen it since, some people still doubted it. I wasn't yet even a teenager, but I remember thinking, "What kind of people could fall for this?"

Now we know.

barry.saunders@newsobserver.com or 919-836-2811

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