Opinion: Graphic images

POSTED: 04/25/12 3:53 PM

The press service of Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams issued a statement yesterday in which she “expressed her displeasure regarding tasteless and graphic images which were shown of a young lady taken during the opening jump up on Thursday April 19 and published on page 10 of a daily newspaper on Friday April 20.”

The picture the Prime Minister refers to was taken by Milton Pieters and published in Today, indeed: on page 10.

We took another look at the picture to determine whether this was indeed  a “tasteless and graphic image.” For our readers’ convenience we publish it here again, so that everyone is able to make up her or his own judgment.

What we see is a young lady dressed in decent shorts with an awful lot of tattoos on her legs of which we figure they are either painted on or stuck on. Otherwise she must have spent a lot of time in a tattoo parlor.

The young lady shows her gymnastic abilities in the middle of the road right in front of what looks like a police car. Had the police officers thought that the girl’s gymnastics amounted to indecent exposure, they would have surely arrested her on the spot.

What we see is a girl who is having a lot of fun, together with a friend who is in front of her on her hands and knees.

While we agree with the Prime Minister that there are revelers who take their gymnastics to the obscene level at times, we don’t see anything wrong with this particular picture.

If the picture is borderline, that’s okay for us as well: as a newspaper we report about what is happening, not about what politicians want their citizens to see.

The statement by the Prime Minister also contains the following remark: “While there is the right to freedom of press on St. Maarten it is also the responsibility of the press to express more tact in the images that they display. Adults should lead by example, especially considering that children more often than not follow what they see rather than what they are told.”

We think that politicians, our Prime Minister included, have to be aware that a free press is one of the cornerstones of a constitutional democracy. This does not take away the right from our PM to have her opinion about this particular picture – that’s also part of the principle of freedom of expression.

With a rare exception this newspaper does not publish graphic pictures of murder scenes or intrusive pictures of robbery and traffic accident victims. But there are times that even such pictures will pass muster, even though we know they will shock readers. An example is last year’s picture of a murder victim on the Cakehouse road who seemed to have been murdered execution style.

We have taken note of the PM’s notion that adults ought to lead by example. That statement is not only valid for newspaper editors, parents, teachers and priests – though there seem to be quite a lot of those who are unaware of this – but also for politicians.

In the meantime, the responsibility for the pictures that appear in our newspaper rests entirely on the shoulders of the author of this article, Today’s Editor-in-Chief.

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