Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Black Blogger Inflicts Final Indignity On Memphis Murder Victim

When John F. Kennedy Jr. was killed in a plane crash with his wife and sister-in-law in 1999, his family had the money, the power, and the privilege to demand that no autopsy photos be taken of any of the bodies, in fear that the photos would end up in the wrong hands. The family had good reason to be fearful, extremely graphic post-death photos of JFK Jr.'s father, President John F. Kennedy still circulate around the Internet today.

If one is morbid enough, sick enough, and has enough time on their hands, such graphic photos exist of the murdered bodies of African American icons such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and rapper Tupac Shakur. These kind of photos contribute nothing to the stories of these men's lives, but only adds to the sadness that their lives were cut short so brutally. There is nothing to be learned or gained from looking at these kind of pictures.

Recently, black blogger Thaddeus Matthews made the horrible and completely selfish decision to post illegally obtained photos of Memphis murder victim Shindri Roberson on his blog. Mr. Matthews is not a journalist, he is not a crime beat photographer, he has absolutely no credentials as media personnel that would have gained him any kind of credibility to attain or post these pictures. To gain access to take pictures of Ms. Robinson's corpse, Mr. Matthews used the fact that he had a connection with the owners of the funeral home where Ms. Roberson's family had unfortunately entrusted to preserve and protect her body before burial.

Mr. Matthews admits never asking anyone at the funeral home for permission to take pictures of Ms. Roberson's corpse, he surely did not have the permission of law enforcement and he most definitely did not have the permission of Ms. Roberson's family. After posting various pictures of Ms. Roberson's bullet-riddled body including a picture of her face, that clearly exhibited the fear and pain Ms. Robinson had to have endured before she finally died, Mr. Matthews has been subjected to well-deserved backlash from other bloggers, journalists, and law enforcement.

Instead of removing all the photos of Ms. Roberson immediately from his blog, Mr. Matthews removed only the picture of her face, the pictures of her body remain on his blog. Before Mr. Matthews removed this one picture, at least one other black blogger posted these pictures on their blog as well. This blogger has since removed all the pictures from his website, but has failed to follow up with any commentary or condemnation of how Mr. Matthews attained the

Mr. Matthews has issued a very tepid and weak apology to the family of Ms. Roberson, an apology which will continue to be meaningless and empty as long as any of the photos of her body remain posted on his blog. In fact, Mr. Matthews has spent more time making excuses for his violation of Ms. Roberson's corpse than apologizing. He has blamed others for allowing him to take the photos and then pointed fingers at other operations that have been guilty of the same atrocity as himself. Mr. Matthews just doesn't get it. If you do wrong, admit it, don't make excuses or talk about what others are doing, accept your culpability.

In my opinion, the posting of these pictures exhibited a complete lack of integrity, a complete moral breakdown, a complete failure to exhibit compassion for Ms. Roberson and her family, a complete loss of understanding that a human being has the right to maintain their dignity even in death. I believe that the only reason that Mr. Matthews posted these photos SOLELY to get more attention driven to his blog. Posting those photos did not contribute to the case being resolved. Those photos didn't add anything to this horrific murder case at all. This was not an attempt to make news or inform others, but a direct and exploitative attempt to gain a bigger readership.

I didn't need autopsy pictures of a murder victim to understand this was a horrific and disgusting crime that needed major attention. When I posted about this story, the picture of a mother crying in grief over her dead son and her dead grandchildren told the story all by itself. Posting those pictures of Ms. Roberson just added insult to injury and is completely indefensible. As a blogger, as a black blogger, you have a responsibility to do no harm to others, particularly other black people. Mr. Matthews failed Ms. Roberson and any other black blogger that posted those disgusting pictures failed her as well.


Danielle March 12, 2008 at 12:17 PM  

Sick, disgusting and morally bankrupt. It's amazing what people will do for attention.

If this was a grab for more blog traffic, then he is lower than pond scum.

There seems to be no empathy or compassion left in the world.

SheCodes March 12, 2008 at 3:01 PM  

Ditto. That was the most morally bankrupt thing that I have seen in a long, long time. To salaciously leer at a murdered woman's naked body, to revel in her wounds, and to try to capitalize your readership with the agony on her face, and to TAKE PICTURES so that the entire world can do the same -- is depraved, demonic, and detestable.

The inability to feel empathy or remorse are the hallmarks of a true psychopath.

focusedpurpose March 12, 2008 at 3:09 PM  

Professor Tracey-

he was not the only one! i had to visit another site and beat my "drum" about the disrespectful posting of the post mortem pictures of this young woman.

i thanked this blogger for taking it off of his site. in our "electronic village" we must not disregard the humanity of black women. to continue to do so even in death is reprehensible. by black men rank as unforgivable to me. i am not interested in writing black passes for anyone.

black women must immediately enact and enforce a consistency clause. we must set non-negotiable standards. those that refuse to rise to meet them should be dealt with most severely. self respect mandates this course of action. we cannot demand respect without change. i know you get this.

blessing to you!

Anonymous,  March 12, 2008 at 3:27 PM  

Even in death, no peace and respect. We can't even look forward to it when we "go to a better place."

I remember the pictures of Left-Eye were on the web as well.

tasha212 March 12, 2008 at 8:17 PM  

This is abhorable. He probably did it to get his readership up. How disrespectful to this sisters memory. He should feel like an ass, but he obviously doesn't.

wisdomteachesme March 12, 2008 at 10:14 PM  

Jesus Wept.
'they' can try to say/show all they want that WE are not important--'they' can continue to TRY and silence us by all their little means and ways-it Will Not shut US up.
As long as there are some of US-doing what we are doing-
We are very important to all that seek to kill us off.
We must be Extremely IMPORTANT if they plot and plan so many ways to take us out!
So, as long as we continue to do what we are doing We Will Stay IMPORTANT.
It's like, they know something that God has planted and like Pharoah and Moses-Herod and Jesus-they are trying to take out everyone cause they can't find the right ones.
My Friends, my Sisters, WE ARE VERY IMPORTANT=WE ARE A HUGE THREAT TO ALL that commit these henious crimes against us and our children.
If we were not important to them, they would not mess with us.
Look at all the killings of black men. They have always been a threat-that is the main reason they were killed as they have been.
And Along with that-black women and children were taken out in large numbers-the occourance of these crimes against us has increased without doubt.
Somewhere in these years things shifted and we became more of a threat than the black men. of course it is because we have gained in power-education and a more solid standing in society. To US it may not appear we have in large numbers, made great strides--But obviously to "somebodies" we have.

As long as we continue to do what we are doing....we are fighting the best way we are able to "in This Moment". Stand Strong though..."The Moment" has been changed.

Anonymiss March 12, 2008 at 10:38 PM  

What a loser. I can't believe how anyone can act so tastelessly for some damned blog traffic.

Attorneymom March 13, 2008 at 3:15 AM  

I was extremely disturbed by the photos. I vowed not to go back to his blog. That was my first and last time visiting. I am sorry that I clicked on the link.

The Angry Independent March 13, 2008 at 1:55 PM  

Excellent commentary Professor.

I did not know about all of the details of this case... I happened to run across the story a few days ago on another site (I believe it was WAOD) and I could only skim...

I usually do my best to avoid the black blogger nonsense.

But your commentary was informative.

This is why I hate being a Black blogger. People like this only bring shame and discredit (although indirectly) to those bloggers who are trying to maintain certain standards.
And the Urban Black gossip blogs are some of the worst culprits.
It makes it that much harder for minority bloggers to gain and maintain respect & acceptance in the larger blogosphere.... That's why so many minority bloggers are written off by White media.

It's true that there are some horrible White bloggers who do disgusting things... but we all know that they don't cause the same kind of damage to their racial group. Minority bloggers will always be held to a different standard... just like in any other realm of life. That's why Kwame Kilpatrick...the thug/Hip Hop Mayor... is such a disgrace. Black journalists, government officials, political leaders, Religious leaders, etc.... have extra responsibilities to maintain a certain level of integrity (whether they like it...or accept it or not)...and they represent more than just themselves and their immediate constituents or supporters. The same should be the case for bloggers.

Back in 2006 and again in 2007, I floated the idea of setting up minimal standards for Black bloggers... standards that would be a part of a professional Black Bloggers Association membership. This Black Bloggers Association would be in partnership with (and sponsored by) the NABJ. Having a professional organization could help provide a Gold Standard for Black bloggers.

The trick would be to establish standards without limiting freedom of opinion, open debate, etc.

The idea has not caught on yet... but this incident is just one of many examples for why it is needed. Otherwise, the so-called "Black Blogosphere" is going to continue to have these problems.

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