Friday, August 10, 2007

Much Ado About A Gator

Loving all God’s creatures may occur in varying degrees.

Comments on the kid “surfin’ the gator” photo today are expected. But think about it. Offer your thoughts on how the kid on the gator is different than your Uncle Hank holding a big mouth bass by the lip for the camera?

The photo captured a slice of Louisiana life. It was a Weegee-like moment and newsworthy. Running it doesn’t mean we promote the behavior. Just because we run a photo of an abandoned building in flames doesn't mean we promote fire as a solution to urban blight.

It is what it is: a jarring and conversation-starting image.

As Times writer Alexandyr Kent puts it, "The dead gator offered them a chance to play the brave dragon slayer, and what is more fundamental to our attitudes about the “demons of nature” than that? That the kids celebrate the death, however inadvertently, is to be expected." (Read his blog notes on the same item.)

Okay. Okay. Callous comments and the running of the photo may reflect a greater issue with society and our attitudes. Yes, fishing and some types of hunting might play to the primal parts of our being. But the bigger question looms: Is it a newspaper’s job to filter community morals and attitudes? Or do we seek to reflect what exists as we find it? (Or hide it from review?) People are confronting the issues this raises today.

See gallery

If the kids playing on the gator bothers you, consider the community values on display ...and don't blame the messenger.

Uncle Hank would have this gator over the mantle and the clipping from the paper framed.


Anonymous said...

Who let the PETA people out of their pens?

Teacher friend said...

It always amazes me whether the animal is dead or not, we see them as objects. Looking at who we are is sad, sad but true. Disrespectful is what the kid is doing. Things aren't rosy people. This photo is a sign of things to come. The Times did us a service warning us.

Anonymous said...

admit it comes down to money and selling papers. This photo is on the front page for one reason TO SELL NEWSPAPERS That is what you do. Don't wrap it up in something about big thoughts and movie crap .sensational headlines and crime and crazy photos like this. yes it makes us buy and read it because we want to know why it is ont he front page. and i don't even fault you for it like Tv tells you a story is coming . it is coming it is soming and then when it comes it is just punchline. no different. it is what you want

Anonymous said...

There is a difference in fishing and this:

Fishers feed their family with what they catch. A gator minding his own business getting killed just because he is a little close to a housing development is different. If this gator was a threat (ie: he chased kids or ate a dog) then maybe it might be justified if it was a danger.

In the north there is a problem with bears. I have never seen a bear killed. They are drugged and relocated. This could have been done with this gator as well.

On Barksdale, gators are always finding their way to the main base. They are not bothered if they are not deemed a danger, and if they are, they are relocated, not killed.

Anonymous said...

Personally I dont see the told us about it. Now WE make decisions about the behavior of those who were there, or killed it or whatever. It didnt look to me as though The Times was condoning or condemning ANYONE for their actions...merely showing what went down. It seems to be a pretty hot topic, so depending on what ELSE was in the news, why WOULDNT it make front page?