With all the mayhem that’s been going on in Washington, D.C. and across the United States, you’d think politicos would use some measure of wisdom.  I’ve been reading articles, watching news reports and tweeting stories, which I feel has some semblance, contrary to all the madness.

Yesterday was Halloween and I read an article on the New York Daily News’ website, which said a “Virginia county GOP sent out a mass email depicting an ugly and disturbing image of our president of the United States.”

A 2006, copyrighted AP image of Obama was created by Virginia GOP committee, which showed him as a skeletal, one-eyed man with a bullet piercing his head.

Now, I’m all for free speech in this country and abroad, but I do believe there are certain actions, which cannot be tolerated nor endorsed.  Any image portraying a sitting president of the United States in a derogatory manner, whether one agrees or not with their policies, is just unacceptable.  No one will ever totally agree with every policy a president or political figure believes in.  But the blatant disrespect of the highest office on earth is unfathomable.

There were policies that our 43rd president didn’t seem to have much wisdom in, but I certainly wouldn’t revert to name calling of any sort for his lack thereof.

Democracy is one of our country’s crown jewels, but relegating to such childish antics only chip away at the very fabric most Americans hold dear to.  Our right to free speech should never be used as a buffeting force as a means to dishonor any citizen – especially our President of the United States of America.

Poking fun at or using convoluted imagery to assault the commander-in-chief’s character only reveals how un-American one can be.

Here’s what I mean.

As a class assignment in my Digital Information in the Contemporary World, we were asked to address images and visual literacy.  One aspect of the assignment challenged us to “briefly check out one of five (assigned) sites listed, all of which use (and/or talk about) images and visualizations in different ways.  My group was given the charge of observing and critiquing the Smithsonian’s Ocean Portal.  I’ll submit two questions my professor posed to the class as a whole.

What is the source of the image or visualization? What do you know about how it was created and why? (Do you know enough?)

The sources of the images are from various photographers.  Ocean Portal either has the rights to use these images with permission from the owners or they’re the sole owners of these images.  I would gather these images were created to support the writer’s view on coral reefs and how they thrive in the ocean or not.

Question two: Have the images been manipulated or modified in any way? (Can you tell?) Does the modification, if any, enhance or distort? (Can you tell?

Yes, the images were manipulated to a degree to show the negative impact coral reefs can experience. For instance, the images show coral reefs in their highlight of vibrancy and full of color thriving in an ocean untouched by humans.  But in another screen shot,  high temperatures cause corals to lose the microscopic algae need to produce food, which feed other animals.  The high temperatures experienced in our oceans were due to global warming which shows our carbon footprint.

I also pointed out that, “the images were “distorted” to a degree with the magnification and added colors, used by the popular program photo shop.  This is the exact method that was used to distort the AP photo of our 44th President, Barack Obama.

How does my assignment have any connection to this article?

Well, as I stated earlier, visualization is one form of communication, which allows the artist, author, or blogger to get their point across.  In a book my classmate Fayola C. mentioned in her analysis of, Readings in Information Visualization: Using vision to think  she added “people think in images as much as they do in words.”

I’d have to whole-heartedly agree to that!

The derogatory image was immediately condemned by Virginia’s Governor Bob McDonnell and the Democratic Party of Virgina Spokesman, Brian Coy after which, the committee issued a public apology.

“The controversial image was first reported on the northern Virginia blog, Too Conservative.”

Even though the apology was issued, this group of free speech citizens wanted to justify their acts by declaring this in their statement, “[t]he Loudoun County Republican Committee yesterday sent an email to its members that represented a light-hearted attempt to inject satire into the Halloween holiday.”

I hardly call that humor.

Miranda A. Walker is currently in her freshman year in the B.A. in Communication & Culture program at CUNY School of Professional Studies.  She works in the multi-media industry as an Executive Assistant at the New York Daily News.  In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her children and reading immensely.  Her dream is to one day run her own company.

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