A Thousand Words

So this photo went out on the wire:

And Reuters cropped it:

Which Little Green Footballs’ Charles Johnson calls “proof” that (A) activists were armed with knives (B) Reuters is cropping photos for propaganda purposes, i.e. like FOX News.

Problem: we don’t know where the knife came from, and it could just as easily belong to the Israeli in the picture. Of course, I’m no expert. Arguing with Johnson last night on Twitter, I conceded to not knowing what sort of knife this is. Judge for yourself:

But more importantly, you’ll note there’s no blood on the knife and the hand seems to be unsure whether it wants to hold a knife at all. Forefinger-and-thumb is NOT a combat grip.  It looks like that hand plucked a loose knife from the floor to remove it from the fray, or even took the commando’s own knife to prevent him from stabbing others.

Johnson said last night that I couldn’t infer that sort of action from the picture, but  my point is  that the photo tells us absolutely nothing about the before or the after. We have no context for the presence of that knife in that hand. If the photo were presented alone as evidence in court, any competent defense attorney would annihilate it.

Which brings us to Johnson’s Exhibit B. Here’s the original:

Here’s the Reuters crop:

Once again, the knife is marginal to the drama of a commando on the deck. Johnson did some Photoshop work and determined there was a bloody hand also cropped out:

Which makes me think the bloody hand belongs to the Israeli in the first photo. It also redoubles my certitude that there is no blood on the knife or the hand holding it because they never touched an Israeli. The grip is still loose. Moreover, all sailors carry knives, even Turkish ones; the presence of a knife on board a ship is not a surprise to anyone except Johnson.

Maybe Reuters was just trying to focus on the Israeli commandos’ faces, and the action and drama of their prone posture? Maybe the photo-cropper was concerned about the knife becoming a little green political football that distracted from the human subjects of these photos?

Nah, it must be a conspiracy to cover up for those nasty Islamists.

Never mind that Israel has had several days to go over every inch of the boat and hasn’t found anything that wasn’t humanitarian. Never mind it is the right of passengers and crew to repel boarders in international waters and that has been the law of the sea since papyrus days. It is even true if the boarders are Israeli commandos, and remains true even when the boat is pointed at Gaza.

So what we have here is cognitive dissonance: to get upset about this knife, you must completely ignore the illegal act of piracy that caused these pictures to be taken.

About Matt Osborne

Veteran blogging the culture wars from Alabama. Video journalist, mash-up artist, aspiring novelist, and metalhead. Expect bunnies, geekery, dark humor, and snarky empirical analysis to annoy idealists of all stripes. You can follow me on Twitter, but be ready 'cause it might get loud.
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