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It may be too obvious to remark, but warning us about “graphic or objectionable content” may be a good idea not only for a single image but for the majority of the visuals we see daily in the media, from insipid television programs to idiotic advertisements to sexist magazines. In this case the alert is placed on rectangle number 31 in’s “Big Picture” series, “A Troubled Week in Iran,” focused on the street protests in Iran (there are 37 uncovered images along with it).

If one does click, there is an image of a man with what appears to be a bullet wound in his leg surrounded by people trying to help. Most of the other images are equally objectionable in the brutality that they depict on Iranian streets (here it is the brutality that is objectionable, not the imagery), but just less bloody.

Somehow a gory wound does not begin to get at the enormous scale of repression we are witnessing in Iran, nor the desperation of the resistance. But, at least to me, the large black rectangle with only a few words and no image is a timely reminder of what has been rendered off limits. Our screens should be filled with black rectangles to represent all the expelled journalists and the pictures they have not been allowed to take in Iran, the amateurs with cellphones who have had their lines of communication cut to the outside world, and the many instances where batons and guns are being wielded without anyone able to record and publish imagery that evokes some of that horror.

This is what, in its invisibility to anyone not within a few meters, is both nightmarishly graphic and profoundly objectionable.

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