The Associated Press is coming under fire over its inconsistency in dealing with controversial religious images, after censoring photos that could offend Muslims, while leaving a photo that could offend Christians intact.
After gunmen on Wednesday unleashed a deadly attack on the Charlie Hebdo satirical paper in Paris, the Associated Press said it would not run the paper's controversial cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad. Witnesses said the attackers had declared they were avenging the prophet. Twelve people, including the paper's editor and several cartoonists, were killed.
“It’s been our policy for years that we refrain from moving deliberately provocative images," AP spokesman Paul Colford told BuzzFeed.
But the Washington Examiner noted that the Associated Press has long featured Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ" image, in which Jesus on the cross is immersed in the photographer's urine. After the "Piss Christ" image drew attention online, the AP pulled it from its database.
Of the decision to remove the decades-old "Piss Christ" on Wednesday, AP representative Erin Madigan told Politico: "It’s been our policy for years that we refrain from moving deliberately provocative images. It is fair to say we have revised and reviewed our policies since 1989."
While many are standing in defense of freedom of the media in the wake of the attack, the Associated Press is not the only outlet to voluntarily self-censor. BuzzFeed noted, that the U.K. Telegraph, New York Daily News and CNN have all chosen to obscure or not run the images.