Do you think it’s obscene?
Photographer Heather Whitten and family
The line between art and pornopgraphy is often a blurry one. Back in 1964, SCOTUS judge Potter Stewart famously said in an obscenity case ruling that although he couldn’t clearly define what was obscene “I know it when I see it.” Far too often images that are completely innocent are censored in film, television, and online simply for showing nudity. Never was this more true than when Facebook pulled this photo of a touching moment between father and son.
Three years ago, Arizona-based photographer Heather Whitten’s son, Fox, was suffering from salmonella poisoning. Fox was vomiting furiously and had diarrhea. So his father, Thomas, took the one-year old boy in the shower to clean and comfort him. “I was just overwhelmed with the scene in front of me,” Heather wrote. “He was so patient and so loving and so strong with our tiny son in his lap.” So she took a beautiful photo of the two with water streaming down their naked bodies.
“It was just beautiful. It was not surprising or anything out of the ordinary; it’s how he has always been with the kids,” Whitten told TODAY Parents. Although Whitten sees the photo as a touching moment between father and son, it was misinterpreted by many as being sexual in nature. “I was taken aback by how many people missed the story or didn’t even look past the nudity to find the story,” she wrote. “They were just hung up on them both being nude and being in the shower. I had crossed a line. It was too intimate. It shouldn’t be shared publicly. But, I disagree.”
The day after Whitten posted the photo is was taken down by Facebook, but then it mysteriously reappeared, only to be taken down again. Finally, Facebook reinstated the photo and admitted it was wrongfully removed. “While we can’t comment on individual cases I can confirm, on background, that the photo does not break Facebook’s guidelines. It was removed in error and it has now been reinstated,” it told The Huffington Post UK.