If the ear won’t listen, tell it to the eye
- Tue Dec 03, 2013 11:26 EST
December 2, 2013 (BreakPoint) – Does the name Emmett Till mean anything to you? It should. Photographs of Emmett Till are credited by some with launching the modern-day Civil Rights movement. That’s right, pictures of one young man marked a turning point in racial relations in America.
How? Simple. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Well, the “thousand words” told by a single picture of Emmett Till were shocking beyond belief. They couldn’t be ignored or dismissed.
You see, Emmett Till was murdered in an exceptionally brutal fashion. His grossly disfigured body spoke volumes about the evil committed against him. Emmett’s mother, against convention, against the urgings of others, chose for Emmett an open-casket funeral. By making people see Emmett, not just hear about him in the obituaries, she galvanized a population against the horrific crime of lynching.
To be sure, people had “heard” things like this before—with their ears. But not with their eyes. They had never seen them. Emmett’s mother made sure the world saw what Emmett had to say—in his death.
You can read Emmett Till’s story here. You can watch a video summary here. And you can see the unedited picture, published by Jet magazine, here. But a word of warning: the open-coffin pictures of Emmett Till are extremely graphic.
As they should be.
Why? Because to understate the enormity of a gruesome crime is to effectively give it sanction. By not showing it just as it is, in all its horror, we make it seem not so evil. The hard truth is that without pictures, with mere words alone, it is easy for the public to remain ignorant and apathetic about even the most monstrous evils.
Such is the weakness of words.
But show us a photograph and we instantly grasp the heinousness of a crime. Show us a picture and we are stirred to appropriate, even sacrificial, even sometimes heroic, action.
Such is the power of pictures.
So if we are going to end the heinous crime of abortion, we need to use pictures as a matter of course. Graphic pictures.