Today there is an argument raging in New York. And it involves a decision by the New York Post to publish a photograph of a man struggling to pull himself up to a train platform after being hurled to the tracks by a crazy man.
Ki Suk Han, 58, of Queens, was killed when the train crushed him despite efforts of bystanders to get the train to stop. Apparently the operator of the train realized something was wrong but couldn’t stop the train in time. It’s not like a train can stop on a dime when you hit the brakes.
There are lots of subplots here. First there is the question of the freelance photographer who says he was popping off his flash to warn the train operator. People are asking why the guy didn’t rush to aid the stricken man instead of worrying about taking photographs.
Then there’s the question of why other commuters didn’t do more to help him. People are saying that the other commuters were hesitant to get involved.
But the biggest controversy seems to be why the Post ran the photo of the man knowing that seconds later he was killed by the train. It’s a good question.
Here’s a link to the New York Post story and also the story itself: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/nightmare_on_subway_tracks_GgvCtkeJj6cTeyxHns2VNP
By LARRY CELONA, ANTONIO ANTENUCCI, CHRISTINA CARREGA and JEANE MacINTOSH
A Queens dad trying to protect fellow straphangers from a deranged man on a Times Square subway platform was hurled onto the tracks by the lunatic and fatally crushed by a train yesterday, cops and witnesses said.
Ki Suk Han, 58, desperately tried to scramble back to the platform as onlookers screamed, shouted and frantically waved their hands and bags in a bid to get the downtown Q train to stop at around 12:30 p.m.
The attacker, who had been menacing others in the station, looms over his victim after pushing him on the tracks.
The attacker and the tragic Queens dad argued on the platform before the suspect shoved Ki Suk Han onto the tracks to his death.
Post freelance photographer R. Umar Abbasi — who had been waiting on the platform of the 49th Street station — ran toward the train, repeatedly firing off his flash to warn the operator.
“I just started running, running, hoping that the driver could see my flash,” said Abbasi, whose camera captured chilling shots of Suk’s tragic fight for his life.
The train slowed, but a dazed and bruised Han still wound up hopelessly caught between it and the platform as it came to a halt.
A shaken Abbasi said the train “crushed him like a rag doll.”
“It’s one of those great tragedies, it’s a blot on all of us,” Mayor Bloomberg said today. “And if you could do anything to stop it, you would. But the good news is it happens phenomenally rarely.”
Dr. Laura Kaplan, a second-year resident at Beth Israel Medical Center who was also on the platform, sprang into action, taking off her coat, grabbing her stethoscope and rushing over to try an administer CPR with the help of a nearby security guard.
“It was terrifying, but you run on adrenaline,” Kaplan told The Post. “There was no pulse, never, no reflexes.”
“I heard what I thought were heart sounds,” she added. “We started compressions, which is half of CPR. We were unable to perform rescue breathing [the other half of CPR] because there was blood coming out of his mouth. He wasn’t in the right position [for full CPR] and there was just no way to get him out of there.
“It was apparent there was not much I could do — but you can’t not do something, you have to try.”
Kaplan said she had been sitting on a bench waiting for the train and heard people arguing but did not see Han thrown onto the tracks.
“I looked up and briefly saw the man standing up vertical along the tracks, and that’s when the train hit him,” she said.
Interestingly there is no mention of the photo and the outrage its use has sparked.
Nowhere on the site is there any defense of the photo’s use. But why would we be surprised? It’s the New York Post. It’s what they do. They go for the highest tier of near insanity without hopefully crossing the line. Their gig is the outlandish, the gross, the stuff most of us wouldn’t dare do. It’s what sells their newspaper.
Whether or not they crossed the line or not is a decision to be made by every editor of every newspaper that exists.
But this wouldn’t be the first time a controversial photo caused waves. Back in 1968 and famous picture of a man being shot in the head. “Murder of a Vietcong by Saigon Police Chief” Eddie Adams, 1968, stirred our emotions. We were stunned, appalled, shocked.
According to the web site woolf.com:
“Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world,” AP photojournalist Eddie Adams once wrote. A fitting quote for Adams, because his 1968 photograph of an officer shooting a handcuffed prisoner in the head at point-blank range not only earned him a Pulitzer Prize in 1969, but also went a long way toward souring Americans’ attitudes about the Vietnam War.
For all the image’s political impact, though, the situation wasn’t as black-and-white as it’s rendered. What Adams’ photograph doesn’t reveal is that the man being shot was the captain of a Vietcong “revenge squad” that had executed dozens of unarmed civilians earlier the same day. Regardless, it instantly became an icon of the war’s savagery and made the official pulling the trigger – General Nguyen Ngoc Loan – its iconic villain.
Sadly, the photograph’s legacy would haunt Loan for the rest of his life. Following the war, he was reviled where ever he went. After an Australian VA hospital refused to treat him, he was transferred to the United States, where he was met with a massive (though unsuccessful) campaign to deport him. He eventually settled in Virginia and opened a restaurant but was forced to close it down as soon as his past caught up with him. Vandals scrawled “we know who you are” on his walls, and business dried up.
Adams felt so bad for Loan that he apologized for having taken the photo at all, admitting, “The general killed the Vietcong; I killed the general with my camera.”
The power of the press. In its highest heights or lowest lows, depending on your opinion.
And I know someone will ask if I would ever run the New York Post photo. And I would have to say it would depend. It’s not that black and white…
— Andy Hachadorian