Back in the dark days of semi-ancient history, victorious armies would kill the leader of an opposing nation or notorious band of villains, cut off his head and parade it around town at the end of a pike. It was a way to gloat and to taunt.
Today, to put a “head on a pike” is a mostly a metaphorical term, but it can still be literal if only in a sanitized form. Such was the behavior of the Bush regime when it killed the Husseins of Iraq. Uday and Qusay (sp?) had their morbid mug shots published in newspapers around the world, and Saddam Hussein had video of his hanging leaked to the Internet.
So when word came Sunday night that Osama bin Laden had been killed, we asked each other how long it would be before we saw pictures of dead Osama on the Internet, and the answer was, “tomorrow morning.” A very large segment of the American population is glad to know bin Laden’s dead, but they wouldn’t believe it until they saw his head on a pike, and the Internet picture of the bloodied skull is the head on the pike of the twenty-first century.
Word came out that such pictures exist, and that they are “gruesome”. But today it was announced that these pictures will NOT be made public.
We applaud this decision. The head on the pike is so tenth century. It’s a barbaric act of gloating and taunting, and such blood sport would be offensive to our enemies and our friends. There is nothing to be gained by doing this. To those who claim it would offer “proof” to the doubters, I say that there will be doubters anyway who will see the “head on the pike” picture and scream, “That’s Photoshopped!”
We have enough gruesome images polluting our collective mind, we don’t need a bloodied skull of Osama bin Laden to become an iconic image for a generation. I want to believe we’re classier people than that.