Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Power of Images

So the guy who dressed up as a suicide bomber has been taken back to prison because of breaking his license. I pretty much agree with Stumbling and Mumbling over this one; it's an easy way for the government to look as if they are taken some action when nothing substantive or useful has actually been done. He was stupid, insensitive, crass, vile - yes. But I can't see any particular law that he's broken, or how he was inciting anyone to violence.

What this shows, though, is the power of an image in today's media. The really questionable things that took place on that demonstration on Friday were the police totally ignoring some inflammatory banners that, in my opinion, amounted to incitement to violence. If, as has been claimed in some quarters, they were pre-vetted, then it's totally unbelievable. What on earth do we pay our police to do?

Of course, it's far easier to create a storm around the picture of a guy dressed up as a suicide bomber. God forbid that the media might actually have to engage in some kind of argument by publishing a slogan? No, create an iconic image, rail against what you say it stands for and then sit back, safe in the knowledge you've pandered to prejudice. But it's pretty ironic to whip up a storm of hate at someone protesting against the Danish cartoons, when he's utilising freedom of speech, in however vile a manner.