Monday, April 22, 2024

EDITORIAL: Reject photos of victims of tragedy


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Maybe that’s what every Barbadian with a cellular phone or tablet and an email, Facebook, WhatsApp or similar account should publicly declare for the benefit of their “friends” when it comes to the circulation of photos of victims of tragedy.

On Sunday morning the island was rocked by the deaths of four young women from St Philip in a horrific accident on Two Mile Hill, St Michael. Soon after, the accident photos showing the most gruesome angles of the death scene were making the rounds on social media.

This practice continues, whether it is a traffic accident or murder, with such regularity that we have to wonder if those responsible have even heard the constant pleadings of the police and other concerned Barbadians about the impact of this action on the immediate family.

It is quite clear that the threat by police to prosecute those responsible has not been taken seriously. It is also now clear that there has to be a different approach to the effort to end this practice.

Quite frankly, the rest of the population must point out to those who obtain some perverse pleasure from sharing such offensive pictures that while we may not be able to stop you from capturing them, by our own individual actions we will deprive you of an audience.

There can be no doubt that it is nothing less than gut-wrenching to receive a call from the police or a friend alerting you to the death of a loved one; but the pain must be unfathomable when one learns of such tragedies through the heart-stopping jolt of one of these pictures on Facebook or elsewhere.

Yesterday, when Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley described the practice as “in poor taste” and begged Barbadians to desist, he was being mild. Such acts passed the “poor taste” threshold long ago. It is an absolutely inhumane and unconscionable thing these individuals do.

Our view is that the laws which police threatened to invoke earlier this year to prosecute culprits may not be the most effective for that purpose, and it is time for the Government to appropriately amend the legislation to give police the muscle they require to stamp it out.

But while the authorities set about doing such, the rest of the population of reasonable, right-thinking Barbadians must treat these posts as they would pornography or any other offensive material – declare you don’t want to receive it and “unfriend” or block anyone who persist in sending it to you.

There is much wisdom and truth in the old maxim “Today for me, tomorrow for you”. The picture you post today with no care for the persons whose pain is compounded by the act might be the picture that confronts you tomorrow when the shoe is on your foot.

A few months ago Anglican Bishop Dr John Holder, in making a similar appeal, put it this way: “At the heart of it is the ability to sympathise with people who have lost relatives in a tragic way and we should all have that . . . .”

Advice worth following!


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