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Opinion Blog

Ethics under question

By Lindsay Spagnuolo          Posted: 12/05/12 6:28pm         

“Pushed on the subway track, this man is about to die,” was the subhead plastered on the front page of Tuesday’s New York Post next to a picture of a man trying to crawl back onto the platform as a subway was seconds away from hitting him. The picture, accompanied by the headline “DOOMED,” was freelance photographer R. Umar Abbasi’s last-minute attempt to save the man’s life.

Abbasi claims he was too far away to help the man, so he was hoping the flash could alert the driver in time. He also said there were several people standing only 100 to 150 feet away who easily could have attempted to help the man after he was pushed to his death.

Naturally, there is a huge controversy surrounding the event. One of the big questions people are asking is: Would you have taken the picture? Because this was a high-pressure situation, I have no idea what I would have done. If he was several hundred feet away, like Abbasi said he was, there probably is nothing he could have done to help. Plus, he claims to have taken the picture as an attempt to alert the driver, which not only makes sense, but seems like the best thing he could have done while having to make a split-second decision.

The criticism against the photographer is unfair. Abbasi was not the only one on the platform, and he also was not the closest. As the picture shows, not one person rushed to help the man. The focus should be put on the man who pushed the victim onto the tracks because he is the murderer — not Abbasi.

Instead of singling out Abbasi, the controversy should be centered around the New York Post’s decision not only to plaster the photo across its entire front page, but to accompany it with the crude headline “DOOMED” and the caption “Pushed on the subway track, this man is about to die.”

Considering the man was killed by the impact, it was inappropriate and insensitive to display the image in such a distasteful manner. The tragic event would not have made national news if the Post had been more careful in presenting the information.

It is a shame the nation has chosen to focus on the ethics of Abbasi rather than the fact that this innocent man was shockingly murdered in a public setting. I believe that if anyone’s ethics should be questioned, it should be those of the editors of the New York Post who made the decision to throw the photo on their front page with a horribly insensitive headline.

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