Our Saddam picture - too shocking?
The case for the defence
Letters Some heads of state lie around dead for decades. But when we ran a picture of a very-recently-deceased Saddam Hussein, readers emailed - and even phoned in - to complain.
You can read a sample of views here. But not everyone agreed.
Having read the letters from your angry readers, I'd like to step up by your side to at least defend you (if that is at all possible given your situation).
While I must admit that I didn't expect to see the embedded image of Saddam in the midst of your article and scrolling down to see it was a bit surreal (and possibly risky since I read The Reg from work), I'd still like to say that it didn't offend me in the slightest. Perhaps having the post-hanging image of Saddam added a bit more punch to your article, it was certainly effective at doing that, although for the sake of those that are weak of stomach you might want to use a link instead. Maybe I'm just a little bit desensitised and that's why I didn't find it as a problem - although those beavers certainly made me feel a bit off colour and I would kindly request that in future any images of beavers (happy as they might be) should also not be embedded in your articles. Where's the line?
I see you have since added a "graphic content" warning to the article - that's unfortunate. While some think that pasting that image was in bad journalistic taste, I wanted to say thank you for both doing that, as well as posting the responses from the readers.
What disgusts and fills me with revulsion and sickness is people like those readers. They sit in their comfortable homes, in their comfortable chairs, freely expressing their opinions in email by typing away on their computer (which would be both a freedom and a luxury to many millions of people) to blast one person for having the balls to do what you did.
They sit and whine about how they are so offended. My advice to you all - put a sock in it. You wouldn't be so quick to condemn Andrew for doing this if you were an Iraqi citizen that lived for decades in fear that one day you or one of your loved ones would be tortured and/or murdered in cold blood by their government for trivial reasons.
I see nothing graphic in this image. What I do see is that one man who was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people for no good reason has finally met the fate that he deserves. Although in my opinion, he deserved much worse for his crimes against humanity.
I live in Canada and while I've never been able to feel the way an Iraqi citizen did while under Saddam's rule, I can certainly empathize. I can freely type this email and can freely express my opinions because I don't live in fear the way Iraqis did when Saddam was in power.
If you are going to be such cry-babies over something like this, El Reg is probably better off not having you for readers. The customer is NOT always right. And out in the world, there's a few people that know that and will tell the customer they're wrong and lose the business because the end result for them is better by not having that customer in the first place.
The same sentiment, but expressed more directly -
Wow, The Reg's readers are a bunch of pussies. They happily read about people getting killed yet when they see a corpse they freak out like a bunch of highschool girls and feel offended as if they were tricked into reading stories about an execution. I guess executions are ok as long as they don't have to see the details. What a bunch of hypocrites.
In a culture that loves GTA, Doom and descendants, a small picture of someone apparently looking up bothers them ?
Good grief, do any of them actually watch the evening news or do they merely see it ?
I have no problems with El Reg doing its job the way it did. Like many others I work with ( all heavy duty operating systems and big corporate hardware geeks admittedly) the whining of the compulsively offended is more than irritating. I think the Register does an excellent job of balancing appropriateness of imagery.
If only you were not so supportive of of the current cultural creation myths and superstitions, but that's another issue.
Regards, Roger Denholm
Talking of being "compulsively offended", we'll spare the blushes of one correspondent who fired off this in response to the mailbag:
Well thanks, I chanced - to my relief - to miss the Saddam images that were complained about in the letters. So were you trying to be funny by including an image in the letters page? I am *really* hacked off.
At a picture of a living Saddam... or the squirrels?
Came the reply -
Well I didn't really look close enough to see if he was alive or dead. He had a noose round his neck. I'm not really sure about the exact death etiquette: I'm not any more keen on seeing a pic of him a moment before he dies than the moment after. Not that keen on seeing any part of his being killed.
Though I take your point that it wasn't the *exact* same thing, it'e pretty close. Maybe it's just me.
We don't like to cause offence, and it was a cock-up that it wasn't labelled. But the video is a significant event - and is an image we'll be seeing for years to come, I suspect.
To explain why feelings about the event ran deep, there's some explanations on the next page...