March 25, 2016

"A photo taken of two little girls during nap time at their school is melting hearts across the Internet."

"This sweet picture was taken while the girls were taking a snooze on a mat at the Presbyterian Day School in Clarksdale, Mississippi."

So it's considered not merely acceptable but just wonderful for school officials — who, exactly? — to take a picture of little girls while they sleep and to post these pictures on the internet?

Spare me the melting-hearts sentimentality and don't make a special rule for "racial harmony." (One girl is black and the other is white.) This is an intrusion on personal privacy. Other people do not exist for your appropriation, even in propaganda for causes that good people think are good.

80 comments:

Gahrie said...

If it happened in a public school, there really is no expectation of privacy...and I'm willing to bet that the parents signed a form giving permission for the use of the kids' images. The parents whose kids go to my high school do so. If the parents don't sign we take great measures to ensure they aren't in the yearbook, featured on the school news program etc...so the kids make sure their parents sign.

That being said, yes these kids are being exploited in the service of a political viewpoint.

William said...

I don't think either girl would be recognizable to anyone outside their immediate circle. Beyond this, such fame as they achieve is the good kind of fame. It's a tad exploitative, but if that's the worst case of exploitation they ever endure, they will have led a blessed life.

Wendy said...

Based on the uniforms I am thinking a private school of some sort and the parents signed waivers to have their children photographed to promote the school. I had the same type of form for my kids in daycare and public school. We happened to decline so neither the daycare nor school can publish pictures of my kids for any purpose on their website, news stories, facebook page etc.

Matt said...

So... why link to it then?

rhhardin said...

Other people do not exist for your appropriation

They exist because the mother wanted a baby.

MadisonMan said...

From the article, that mined the comments:

Commenter Wendy summed it up perfectly: "We may be adults but we're never too old to learn. This is how it should be for all of us."

Okay. I'm taking a nap today!

buwaya said...

The problem with "Other people do not exist for your appropriation" pretty much rules out the entire category of "street photography".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Street_photography

No new Cartier-Bressons, no Friedlanders, and maybe no Weegees.

Bay Area Guy said...

Shorter Althouse, different context, but same message:

Get off my lawn!

buwaya said...

"Based on the uniforms I am thinking a private school of some sort "

Many public schools have uniforms these days.

Bob Boyd said...

Posed.

AllenS said...

Wait until the little black girl hears the little white girl say: "All lives matter".

Fabi said...

"The ink is black, the page is white,
Together we learn to read and write."

traditionalguy said...

Christian branding. They shall know you are Christians by your love for one another said the Nazarene.

I would give it the Holy Week dispensation. If they do it again, then arrest them for unfair marketing of Christian School.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Other people do not exist for your appropriation...

Oh, but turkeys, foxes, and soon to be torn asunder squirrels do?

Wilbur said...

Other people do not exist for your appropriation... I'll guess you don't think much of the paparazzi.

Wilbur's heart was not melted by this photograph. A bit too cloying for me. Plus I had to wait for an obnoxious video ad to play before I could view it.

smitty said...

Mawkish and propagandistic.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Yeah, I taught at a private Christian preschool and you better believe we did not take, let alone share, photos of kids whose parents had not signed the permission form allowing us to do so.

And, goodness sakes, it's a cute picture, Althouse. Lighten up. Someone needs a grandbaby!

Cut It said...

As many others have said...

Love you but you could ruin a wet dream.

Paul Zrimsek said...

"Ebony and ivory
Sound together in perfect harmony
Side by side on my piano keyboard,
So long as they're not actually side by side--
Becuase that's a minor second and it sounds awful."

The Elder said...

Give me a break, Professor. You're a bit over the top on this one.

PB said...

Classify it as child abuse. If it were a boy and a girl holding hands would there be cries that the boy is exercising his privilege and taking advantage?

ALP said...

Let me guess: photo was taken by a woman. Had it been taken by a man, his hard drive would be in the FBI's possession.

ALP said...

AllenS - thread winner once again!!!

Signed: President of the AllenS Fan Club, West Coast Chapter.

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

I get beautifully laid out 6 page color brochures from Presbyterian Private Academies.

They are recruiting tools and include tasteful suggestions for donations from grandparents. The product they sell is beautiful Scots Presbyterian adolescents with bright smiles of the confident Calvinist Christians. The parents and grandparents are very proud of their kids being in the pictures and the kids are very proud that they have parents who love them enough to pay $20,000 a year tuition for them to be there.

I have paid my share in years past. So I do not donate now. But childless Aunts and Uncles probably do.

A Methodist school I am familiar with has gotten half a billion out of the Candler and Woodruff Foundations. Sending out a color brochure to them with pretty children's pics was not a bad idea.

The Texas schools and Summer Camps also take pictures by the thousands at every event and issue Annuals. Getting the Cover shot twice was a great accomplishment for a handsome young man at Camp Longhorn in the 1990s. He is my son.

Rocketeer said...

Other people do not exist for your appropriation...

I guess there's an "art" exception.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/althouse/39708363/

CWJ said...

I'm with Althouse on this one.

My Mother's name was included in a public list celebrating cancer survivors, laudible right? My mother was both surprised and thrilled until I asked who had permission to release what amounted to her medical history to this organization. The change on her expression was immediate. Sometime later she suffered a medical emergency and I was not immediately available. Those calling refused to give my wife any information, because privacy. What's individual privacy when good intentions and a societal larger truth are at stake?

Bill said...

You say they're little girls. But do they identify as female?

Unknown said...

Assuming they are female just because they are girls? I'm a little lost about the connection between sex and gender.

Unknown said...

There is the world we wish existed, where such pictures would be just fine, and the world as it is, where such pictures can cause problems for the subject. It is good to keep in mind that the 2 worlds are not the same.

Fernandinande said...

Commenter Wendy summed it up perfectly: "We may be adults but we're never too old to learn. This is how it should be for all of us."

Passed-out.

Snark said...

I work in education and parents all must sign media releases if they are willing to have their children photographed. They explicitly allow or disallow various mediums: print, web, social media, tv etc, etc. Except for the vitality, which is always possible in this medium, this is absoliutely normal. And frankly, nice. It IS sweet. It should give pause and a little bit of happiness to others. Strange thing to be "mad" at.

BDNYC said...

Let's just say it's stupid and leave it at that.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Assuming the parents agreed to the picture being taken (which is a little strange, I grant) or at least didn't object and assuming the parents agreed to let the picture be publicized I'm not sure there's much reason to be outraged.

"Children shouldn't be props" is a fine sentiment, and one with which I agree. I'm not sure this is an intrusion of privacy, though (if the assumptions above are correct anyway).

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Children are so cute when they aren't conscious, so quiet and well-behaved!

Ken B said...

They are on their own property, so that they enjoy privacy rights here? If I sleep in Althouse's office, can I object if she snaps a photo?

Big Mike said...

Why is it surprising that little children ignore skin color? When he was in elementary school my older boy (in his thirties now) had a best friend who was African-American. Acting as though this is somehow a 21st century great leap forward is mistaken. Or, probably worse, a sign that in a half century society has learned nothing.

Eventually the little Black girl will be taunted by other black kids for having a white friend and "acting white," and much the same will happen to the little white girl. They'll forget that they ever liked each other. Sad, but that's how it goes in a US of A where there is a pathological focus on race coming from the mainstream Left and the extreme looney fringe right.

Or, as Rodgers and Hammerstein put it ...

JaimeRoberto said...

Inconceivable. Everything we are taught about Mississippi tells us this scene could never happen there.

Earnest Prole said...

Doesn’t everyone know that having your photograph taken steals your soul?

AllenS said...

Pretty sure neither girl was Amish.

hombre said...

"Other people do not exist for your appropriation, even in propaganda for causes that good people think are good."

Oh yeah! Let's sue the bastards. These children have been "appropriated."

It's a lawyers world after all. And ain't that workin' out great.

Ann Althouse said...

I didn't link to the photograph but to a news story about the virality of the photograph.

And I stand by my position: Don't take photographs of people who are sleeping.

Street photography, people out in public, that's different. They are where they can be seen publicly. There are still some ethical issues involved. I'm not discussing the legal rights. You may have a right to take the photo, but that doesn't mean you are being an ethical person, especially if you put it on line.

As for schools taking pictures of their children and putting them on line... it's exploitative. If they coerce consent out the parents, they should at least have the ethical responsibility to limit photos to public displays, maybe group playing. But to do a close-up image of a child who is not modeling, who isn't even aware that a photograph is being taken, is to disrespect the personhood of that child.

The fact that the adults found it symbolic of a political,/social issue they wanted to endorse underlines that it is exploitative.

Children are not pets. They are not yours to use. Teachers are in a position of trust, and all doubt should be resolved in favor of the child.

Ann Althouse said...

"Oh yeah! Let's sue the bastards. These children have been "appropriated." It's a lawyers world after all. And ain't that workin' out great."

I'm specifically NOT discussing this as a legal issue. It is an ethical question. The question of whether there's liability is different, and I would discuss it in a very different way. When you are caring with children, you have a high moral duty, and your standard should be much higher than just what can I do without getting sued.

And what I particularly object to is that thousands of people are sending the message that what was done here was especially good, so that it's not even an ethical problem but an ethical plus.

I'm writing this to drag it down to at least neutral. Don't encourage teachers to photograph the napping children. Don't encourage teachers to look for some black child that happens to be near a white child and turn that into their message of racial harmony. The children are not your raw material for messaging. Speak for yourself. They're not your art supplies.

Big Mike said...

@JaimeRoberto: not inconceivable.

Big Mike said...

Trying again with the link

AllenS said...

Commons:Photographs_of_identifiable_people

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

Mothers are in a position of trust... They have a moral duty to mitigate harm and corruption caused to their child. To their Posterity.

That said, the children are not being posed. They are not exposed as licentious bait for gawkers. Their parents or guardians have given consent for an activity that cannot be reasonably construed as harming the children. This could be interpreted as an effort to indoctrinate, but that fine line should be considered separately and comprehensively.

Ken B said...

Like pictures of Mohammad, these are haram. Riots may ensue.

AllenS said...

I read the article, and nowhere did I see that the parents had given their permission.

dwick said...

Ya know... Althouse's kind of attitude here and the over-population of lawyers in this country is a large reason why society is so screwed up these days. Everybody is looking for a reason to be offended.

Ken B said...

Allen S,
You expect that in an article? Can you cite me one similar article with pictures of a person accompanied by a note that the subject signed a release or gave consent?

Ken B said...

The horror, the horror. https://www.google.ca/search?q=soccer+game+kids&rlz=1C9BKJA_enUS661US661&oq=soccer+game+kids&aqs=chrome..69i57.9176j0j7&hl=en-US&sourceid=chrome-mobile&ie=UTF-8#imgrc=u8wv2pKdkkWVzM%3A

Paul Ciotti said...

It's not a very good photo. The black girl's face is obscured. The racial harmony theme of the two girls holding hands in their sleep is obviously what brought tears to the hearts of the photo's many liberal fans. Well good for them.

jacksonjay said...


I knew a high school teacher once who took photos of sleeping students as "documentation." Well, we didn't mean that kind of documentation, they said.

Bob Boyd said...

"Don't take photographs of people who are sleeping."

You know what else you shouldn't do to people when they are sleeping? (and by sleeping I mean passed out drunk)
You should never, ever pull up their shirt and use a Sharpie to makes eyes out of their tits and a mouth out of their belly button. Never do that.
But if you do, never, ever take photos of them like that and put them on the internet.

AllenS said...

Ken B, some the comments above indicated that they were pretty sure that the parents gave their consent. That's all that I was referring to, however, these children were asleep. They were not posing for a picture. Read the link at my 4:03 PM post.

urpower said...

If sleeping next to someone of another race is now anti-racism, then is sleeping next to a person of the same race racist?

Real American said...

WHY MUST EVERYTHING PROVOKE OUTRAGE?!?! Just get the fuck over it. It isn't even you! Once again, the outrage says more about the outraged than it does the act causing the outrage.

The Cracker Emcee said...

"Wait until the little black girl hears the little white girl say: "All lives matter"."

Brilliant.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Strikes me as a bit odd that you're that bothered by a photo, in some abstract ooga booga Aboriginal fear way, taking away the personhood of the child, while you steadfastly argue that a fetus does not enjoy personhood.

AllenS said...

A thought just occurred to me (I know, I know) maybe they weren't asleep. Maybe it was staged.

Amanda said...

Sometimes a picture of two sweet little girls is just a picture of two sweet little girls. Take away from it what you want, or don't.

Bob Ellison said...

That's a pretty high horse, Professor.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I'm sorry, but I don't recollect any darkie by name of Kizzy.

coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James Longfellow said...

Ann raises an interesting argument. The photo may be legal but it is unethical because the two children are sleeping, hence essentially defenseless. But this does not respond to the claim made in the comments that the photo is staged. So my question is if the photo is staged, would you hold a different opinion about the photo?

Note. I do not know whether the photo is staged or not. I'm just curious as to whether the analysis offered turns on that fact. Because later she says "don't turn children into art supplies" which makes it seems more like an abuse of power issue. Or is it the case that it would be an abuse of power even if staged, but it is a worse abuse because they were napping?

tim maguire said...

In what world does friendship between a little white girl and a little black girl melt hearts and teach lessons? What lesson?

What dark and nasty people they must be to think there is something extraordinary in this.

Ken B said...

Althouse mocked Scott Adams for saying people only get flamboyantly outraged for the sake of others. Funny.

Quaestor said...

Or is it the case that it would be an abuse of power even if staged, but it is a worse abuse because they were napping?

Staged or spontaneous seems to me a distinction without a difference regarding Althouse's point. These children are being used for ideological reasons without their consent. Even if they were asked, they are too young to give consent. If the parents were asked and they consented, it raises the question of whether those parents appreciate the difference between themselves and their children, who are autonomous beings, even though they are also protected minors. Anyone who understands the innate rights children as well as their limitations must agree that children should never be used to promote a point of view that they are unable to fully appreciate intellectually.

One may ask a young child something patently obvious to us, such as Is racial harmony a good thing? but one can never know whether the answer the child gives is his considered opinion or just something he says that he hopes will gain your approval. This fundamental point of psychology was grossly distorted or ignored by some social workers and so-called therapists back in the early 1990s when hysterical prosecutions of "ritual child abuse" ruined the lives of dozens of decent citizens (e.g. the McMartin Preschool abuse trial, the Little Rascals Daycare abuse trial, et al.)

If the use of children as props in something as uncontroversial as racial harmony or brotherly love is unethical, which I think it is, what are we to make of their blatant and cynical use in political campaigns, such as infamous Obama campaign ad from eight years ago? If there had been a fitting popular outrage, the perhaps today we wouldn't be saddled with a president so ignorant of history or so unappreciative of the Constitution.

Michael said...

One girl is barely recognizable and the other not at all. I think you're getting a little over-excited here. Let sleeping tots lie. Which, I notice, is ambiguous. English is a marvelous language.

Bill Befort said...

I'm glad I got my copy of the Steichen "Family of Man" collection before Althouse could intervene. Looking through it, I can't find a lot of informed-consent statements, so I'm sure lawyers nowadays would have much to say about Privacy. Fewer lawyers back in 1955, so Marxists like Susan Sontag had to take on the job of detraction: for them, Steichen and the other photographers weren't invading privacy, they were denying the primacy of class conflict in favor of the imperialist notion of human kinship. Every age gets the soreheads it deserves.

Johnny Sokko said...

This photo is popular for the same reason this is such a great visual.

http://www.cbssports.com/collegebasketball/eye-on-college-basketball/25531078/iowa-state-cheerleader-gets-the-wrong-side-of-court-side-seat-a-face-ball?linkId=22731502

Gary Rosen said...

Lighten up, dearie

Jake said...

Agreed.

CarlF said...

The answer is, of course, it depends.

For a scenario on one extreme, where is it always ethical and legal: Teacher tells parents that it is cute that Sally and Sue are always napping holding hands. The parents ask the teacher to take a picture and then expressly authorize the school to publish it on the internet.

For the other extreme, a stranger is expressly told not to take pictures of the children and does so anyway and publishes the pictures with identifying information.

We do not have enough information to determine precisely where on the spectrum this situation lies. However, since no protest is reported, I accept the picture with its positive underlying message.

Ken B said...

Of course Althouse is saying this is immoral even with parental consent.

James Longfellow said...

"If the parents were asked and they consented, it raises the question of whether those parents appreciate the difference between themselves and their children, who are autonomous beings, even though they are also protected minors. Anyone who understands the innate rights children as well as their limitations must agree that children should never be used to promote a point of view that they are unable to fully appreciate intellectually."

This proves too much. Since by definition of the childhood development process young children can appreciate very little intellectually. So under your definition taking children to church would violate their right because they cannot fully appriciate God, pre-school or kindergarten would be off-limits because they cannot fully appreciate the idea of a school, etc etc.

"Of course Althouse is saying this is immoral even with parental consent."

Well, that's odd because she offers no rational basis of such a statement in her post.

Quaestor said...

So under your definition taking children to church would violate their right because they cannot fully appriciate God, pre-school or kindergarten would be off-limits because they cannot fully appreciate the idea of a school, etc etc.

Stretching too much. You've refuted yourself, not me.

Char Char Binks said...

What bothers me is the photo of the woman in Brussels with her shirt torn nearly off and her bra and torso exposed after the bombing.

Ordinarily I'm fine with the idea that people voluntarily out in public have no expectation of privacy, but this crosses a line. True, she was in public during a newsworthy event, but she didn't walk outside half naked. The bombers did that to her, and the photographer, and the AP should have had the decency not to publish it. They had plenty of pics to choose from.