I See Dead People

Haley Joel Osment sees dead people

All of humankind lost a bit of its dignity and, dare I say, its humanity, when the media brutally chronicled the death of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

However, that was when newspapers and television still ruled the world, and only a special group of “journalists” could shape public opinion.

This dip in humanity, something I physically felt, occurred while I was doing my normal lunchtime thing – trolling the New York Post and its gossip column – “Page 6,” for junk food.

Whimsically pursuing all things frivolous, that fateful day, my silly lunchtime ritual was rudely interrupted by the full color image of Gadhafi’s lifeless, bloody, misshapen face, which was run atop The Post – like some sick trophy.

It felt like someone punched me in the stomach.

Now, I’m no supporter of the fallen despot. His people obviously chose to rise up and hunt him down, like an animal, instead of engaging in other pursuits.

The overthrow of the Libyan government – said to be a part of “Arab Spring,” was supported by US President Barack Obama and later our European allies, who backed the rebels after Gadhafi reportedly did the tyrant thing and started killing people for questioning his authority.

However, I cannot defend or debate whether any of that was right or wrong in Libya, but I also cannot support the media’s objectifying of another human being – even if he was a tyrant.

While I’m sure, on some level, Moammar may have had it coming for some time, his very savage and public death says little about the tyrant, but speaks volumes about the living beings among us. Photographed on cellphones and broadcasted on the internet, the public capture of Gadhafi and his ultimate death was printed atop of every tabloid that would carry the image.

All without the basic decency of warning that: “the images you are about to see may be disturbing.”

“Disturbing,” actually doesn’t describe our fetish like fascination.

Why would anyone be interested in a snuff film or a snuff shot passing itself off as the evening news?

Whatever happened to, “respect for the dead?”

In the Good Ol’ Days, i.e. circa 1995, it would have been in poor taste and undignified to mark a death by actually showing it or by celebrating it with an end zone dance.

The internet has changed the way we exchange news and information and I’m not sure if it was for the better.

The completely no-holds-barred, wide-open style of sharing news and information, which is the hallmark of the internet, only highlights a change in the American media that should outrage us all.

Framed for the murder of a deputy, Ned Christie was posed and put on display in 1887.

In the pre-internet age, the hanging of corpses and posing of outlaws outside of the general store, spread the news of a capture and kill by a posse. Later, when John Dillinger was shot down, law enforcement had to do everything in its power to stop people from taking body parts for souvenirs – no seriously.

Perhaps things really haven’t changed too much.

When Uday and Kussay Hussein, Saddam’s sons, were killed in a bombing attack just before that country was invaded, their lifeless bodies were shown on the six o’clock news right along with quirky human interest stories, sports and the weather.

Earlier this year, President Obama was almost ridiculed for not showing the corpse of Osama bin Laden and no one batted an eye.

Days later, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall was vilified for questioning why people would be literally dancing in the streets after bin Laden was killed.

For some reason we seem to have conveniently forgotten old rules that state: “No one is supposed to celebrate death or disrespect the dead.”

So the next time a bubble-headed, bleach blonde on the news tells you about the death of some baddy, with a gleam in her eye or someone plunks down playing cards that are used to objectify, “evil doers,”  slow your roll playa.

Regardless of how despicable a life they lived while on Earth, celebrating death with photos or video is distasteful and disturbing. In fact, two wrongs never make a right, disrespecting the dead doesn’t just go over bad on YouTube – it debases the living.


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