Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Images and Imaginations

I was not going to post on the topic because it has gotten too viral, but I've had too many questions posed to me by various and sundry people in various and sundry situations over the past 48 hours, and certain matters need to be set straight. There will be no hyperlinks in this posting, lest additional contributions be made to the current feeding frenzy.

The White House released a photo of Barack Hussein Obama and his advisors in the Situation Room, watching the mission to take out Bin Laden unfold. The Yiddish language newspaper Die Tzeitung, based in Brooklyn and directed to an insular religious Jewish readership, published the photo, but with the images of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Audrey Tomasen photoshopped out of the picture. Die Tzeitung is one of those newspapers that does not publish photographs of women, based upon its interpretation of certain religious prohibitions, and the fear that men who look at such photographs might likely entertain various impure thoughts and fantasies.

I make no apologies for Die Tzeitung and other publications that have "no photos of women" policies. I do not now seek to distance myself from them (though in many respects they themselves have already done the distancing). I shall not now dissect the logic, and the flaws therein, of the notion that the Torah prohibits the publication of photographs of women. I take no position as to the propriety or ethics of altering a photograph released to the media with the stipulation that the photograph not be altered. And I do not now analyze whether the implementation of the aforementioned policies do or do not constitute a debasement and degradation of women.

I do, however, note (in no particular order) that:


A. I do not consider the subscriberships of Die Tzeitung and similar-minded publications to be more religiously observant than I am. As alluded to in previous postings, I keep the Sabbath, eat kosher, wear a kippah on my head, and my wife covers her hair.

B. This matter has drawn a significant amount of media attention upon groups that, by their own unabashed admission, seek insularity.

C. Said media attention has collateral impact upon those of us who are also Torah-observant Jews, but who have not problems with photographs of women (provided that the woman in the photograph is not immodestly or provocatively dressed or demeanored).

D. The media attention generated may well redound to the detriment of the insular groups the news publications in question identify with. Specifically, these same insular groups, which are not known for providing their people with a high degree of self-sustaining vocational skills, are dependent in no small part upon the generosity of charity-givers and/or the politicians. The current ridicule may well dissuade, to one extent or another, the continuation of such generosity, particularly in thin economic times such as those which currently prevail.

In its public apology, the sincerity of which I do not question but the efficacy of which I do, Die Tzeitung described the White House's photograph as "iconic." But if indeed a photograph is truly "iconic" then Die Tzeitung's editors cannot expect their manipulation of it to go unnoticed.

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