Back in 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Till came down from Chicago to visit relatives in Mississippi. He never made it back home. He was brutally beaten to death and thrown in a river for supposedly whistling at a white woman. When they finally found his body and brought it back to Chicago for the funeral, Emmett's mom, Mamie Till Mobley, insisted on an open casket so the world could see the carnage for itself. The picture played a large role in sparking the civil rights movement--indeed, the Montgomery bus boycott started only three months after Emmett's murder. Now Roland Martin wonders if it would be a bad idea for one of the parents who lost their kids at Sandy Hook to do the same thing.
The images we have become accustomed to include them singing at a piano, sporting the gear of a favorite sports team and others. When we think of them being memorialized it's in the context of teddy bears, candles and flowers.Martin got the idea from the producer of his Sunday morning show on TV One. When he got a text suggesting this, Martin thought that maybe such a picture would make a difference in ending our national fetish with guns.
Americans want to remember them as vibrant and fun-loving children, but will that actually shake the conscience of America to do something about how they were gunned down in the classroom?
What if one of the mothers or fathers of the Newtown 20 demanded that police give them a crime scene photo of their child and they chose to show it to the world? Can you imagine a modern day Mamie Till Mobley, wracked with pain but filled with resolve to show the nation so they could bear witness to what hate did to their child?
When my producer sent me that text, I recoiled at even the mere mention of seeing with my own eyes the real life results of what a Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle could do to a 6-year-old body. But maybe I should see it. Maybe Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association should have to answer to such a photo when he is interviewed.A little perspective is in order here. The kids at Sandy Hook were shot anywhere from five to 11 times--in other words, they were literally shot to pieces. And they were hit mostly with bullets powerful enough to go clean through a 16-gauge metal pipe. Imagine as many as 11 of those things going into the body of a six-year-old.
Maybe if a modern day Mamie Till met with members of Congress and forced them to look at a photo of her baby, then we would see some political courage.
Maybe if all Americans had to bear witness to such a photo, we would stop ignoring the violence equivalent to the Newtown massacres that is happening in Chicago, New Orleans and other cities across this country.
LaPierre actually had the gall to say that a .223 bullet actually isn't that powerful in his tone-deaf news conference. While he may have been right, it says a lot about him that he can even think about quibbling about the strength of a bullet when kids are getting shot multiple times.
Martin thinks that seeing the actual results of such butchery would shake up people who aren't willing to see the real results of real-life carnage.
For too many of us, we hear about gun violence, we talk about it, we mourn it, but to be honest, we've never witnessed it.There might actually be something to this. After all, nobody's complained about the anti-smoking ads put out by the CDC and The Truth.
Our senses have been dulled to the real world carnage. We demand that news organizations not show American troops, or even the enemy, lying dead in war zones. Even when our troops returned home in flag-draped coffins, the Bush administration forbade it from being covered by the media. The Los Angeles Times was ripped by readers for showing the bloody, lifeless body of Ambassador Christopher Stevens being dragged out of a building in Benghazi, Libya.
What does that say about America? Oh, let's talk about tragedy, but please, please, please don't show the real results.
In the past, gun makers in Connecticut have derailed attempts to make the state's already tough gun laws even tougher by threatening to pull out of the state. I'd like to see them try that post-Newtown--especially if a parent releases a picture of what happened to their child.