Thursday, May 31, 2012

So What Have We Learned?

Photo: Ron Haviv
It's no stretch of the imagination that there are photographers aplenty that would deal with arms manufacturers, directly- or indirectly, as is the case with Haviv. That's a given. It was a shock however, that a photographer with a worldwide reputation as a humanistic documentarian of the very atrocities that these weapons inflict would himself support and be supported by these propagators of misery and suffering. If anyone should know better, it's Ron Haviv. There is no justification, no rationalization possible. And for his part, it was just another anonymous stock photo sale, without regret, without remorse, and certainly without apology- not to anyone of us, but to those who have been and will continue to be maimed, mutilated and killed.

One can ask what manner of man is this Ron Haviv, this man whose images can make us feel so deeply, but whose actions portray a chilling betrayal of heart and purpose. Did he unknowingly lose his moral compass to the constant, everyday, complete and utter madness that is war, or was it a more voluntary, calculated descent into the land of "what does it matter?" Are we to believe he was always a cold hearted but talented individual with a gift any photographer would "kill" for, and a penchant for fame and money whatever role(s) he had to play?

And what does it mean when commenters say they find no conflict of interest, no hypocrisy of action, no deceit in his non explanation? Are they blind to the horrors these weapons inflict on innocent men, women and children each and every year? And it is always the innocents who suffer most in modern warfare- "smart" weaponry be damned!

Ultimately, this should make us look more closely at ourselves, our choices and decisions as photographers, consumers and human beings- which is basically what Duckrabbit fortunately chose to do on our behalf. Is Ron Haviv the aberration, or the norm? Are agencies such as Vll going to impose tighter ethics and standards, or will they choose to ride this out without conscience or concern? But what of all the silent others who see no wrong, who do not even see the need to discuss or challenge? That is the scary part, the world that you and I, that Ron Haviv and all the suvivors in his photographs must live in...

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