During the holiday break, Bag is noting the notable: the most interesting shots in the many 2012 Picture of the Year galleries. The two photos in this post came from the Associated Press Picture of the Year collection.
The details behind these two photographs are, perhaps, less important than their new relevance in the wake of the Newtown shootings. By that I mean that we care less that this group is protesting the right to carry a rifle in public or that Aurora shooter James Holmes displayed few warning signs as a teen that he would someday become completely deranged. We simply see that Holmes looks crazy and that the white protesters are carrying rifles in public that look like automatic weaponry.
We read the general at the expense of the particular. As we absorb the 24/7 media coverage of the most recent mass killing, the photos themselves become representative of the issues at hand. Should a minority of people dictate gun policy? Should we allow sale of guns and ammunition that can kill 20 deer (or children) as quickly as one and, if we do, who should be able to make those purchases? And how did someone like James Holmes (or Adam Lanza, for that matter) slip from our notice?
The top photo stands on its own; Newtown didn’t have to happen to make it worth noticing. The photo of Holmes only matters when you know the context. But given that, the brain could come to the next question: does one photo beget the other? Will we address gun control without looking at mental health issues? Can we address both at the same time?
(Photo 1: David Guralnick, File/AP/The Detroit News. caption: In this June 11, 2012 file photo, Chris Combs, of Troy, left, and Stephanie Locke, of Clawson, cross the street in downtown Birmingham, Mich. while participating in a protest by gun enthusiasts. The protest wass in support of eighteen-year-old Sean Michael Combs, of Troy, who was arrested in Birmingham while carrying a rifle. Combs was charged with brandishing a weapon, disturbing the peace, and obstructing a police officer. Photo 2: RJ Sangosti, Pool, File/Denver Post/AP. caption: In this July 23, 2012 file photo, James E. Holmes appears in Arapahoe County District Court in Centennial, Colo. Holmes was being held on suspicion of first-degree murder, and facing additional counts of aggravated assault and weapons violations stemming from a mass shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., that killed 12 and injured dozens of others.)