I have recently been following the Colonel Russell Williams court case and listening to peoples’ reactions.
A News Talk 1010 commentator spoke about Toronto newspapers’ choice of photo to accompany yesterday’s front page court case article. Out of all the publications, the paper on my door step—the Toronto Star, got his pick for the most sensational photo. Yesterday’s front page photo compared the Russell William we now know, in a young female’s underwear to the once dignified Canadian Military Commander.[i]
As a mature adult, I was disturbed by this photo; however, I could comprehend it.
But what about the child who picks up the paper and brings it to mom and dad in the morning, or the one who catches a glimpse of the unusual picture in a news box while walking to school?
What do you say to this kid who sees an older man in a young girl’s underwear? Children simply don’t have the capacity to comprehend its meaning and will certainly ask, “Why is he dressed like that mommy?”
I wonder, did this conundrum cross the Stars mind? I certainly understand that children cannot be censored from life, that bad images are everywhere. The picture was impactful, depicting Russell Williams’ double life. But wouldn’t a simple half page over-cover have solved such a problem? These are used for extra advertising bucks all the time (not a fan), so why not use it for a “warning” protecting children from an unnecessary image and parents from the grief of explaining it.
Fact Vs. Fiction
Others have commented on the vast details and evidence displayed in the courtroom and the extent of newspaper coverage of such.[ii] I have ever been so near to tears reading the paper on the subway as this morning reading the article, “Brave women tried to prevent their murders.” [iii] Some have chosen to stop following the case because of the grotesque accounts.
Watching an episode of Criminal Minds I witness as many heinous deeds in one hour as reading this case’s coverage. What is the difference? Is it that when we read the words on paper our imaginations are left to fill the holes? We don’t see the emotion in an actress’s eyes and so we place our perceived emotions into the characters we envision as we read, drawing ourselves closer to the victim and their pain. Or is it that we are not as desensitized as we often think? Although the gruesome crimes on CSI are quite plausible, we know it is not real.