The young Iranian woman had got out of her car for air and was being no trouble to anyone. Then she was shot by someone - a soldier or a plain-clothes policeman, so they say - and she died. She is shown dying here.
Look if you want. You probably already have. I have, uneasily, uncertainly, but I have. I offer the link but I don't want to show it for various reasons, or so I argue with myself:
1. I don't need this particular piece of proof to know that the Iranian regime is violent, repressive and ruthless. I knew that already;
2. I don't need this piece of emotional stimulus to make me feel more strongly than I already do;
3. I suspect that to look at someone dying while being uninvolved is an act of voyeurism. I know we are fascinated by death and the sight of blood, but that is deeply confused here with a proper sense of moral outrage that one should be able to feel without the voyeurism;
4. I am uneasy about the replayability, disposability, mass reproduction of the event as image. It is troubling as a process. The death is troubling as an event;
5. I understand the necessity of the image, because of the importance of martyrdom in Islam and (so I read) in Iran particularly. In other words I recognize the possible effectiveness of the image as a weapon in a battle I would like to see won, but the death of the individual young woman is not simply a tool. It is the personal, private passing of a human being;
6. Such deaths are not peculiar to this particular moment in Iran. Such deaths are daily, everywhere, in murders, in accidents, in executions, in bad places, in ambivalent places, and in good places alike. This image alone does not condemn a regime. It illustrates one of the reasons why such a regime is to be condemned.
These are moral quibbles, I know. Death is death and it is like this, and this isn't an entirely private death, but a public one, taking place in a public context, recorded for public showing.
And still I look at it, and think she looks OK at first, then comes the trickle of blood from her mouth, then the nose, then the head, and I know, we know, she is gone and we hear the cries around her as others - those really there - realise it too. And looking on it I remember there are people here who defend the regime and dismiss its opponents as 'gilded youth', as tools of imperialism. Very well, I think, then sup on this. Here is some gilded youth.
So it is ambivalent and troubling, and maybe it is inevitable that it should be. Maybe that was its destiny as an image the moment someone started filming. So now the image has entered on its career, like the shooting of John Kennedy or Martin Luther King and the killing of Bobby Kennedy, it is just that the young woman was not a prominent figure, not accustomed to occupying the arena where death becomes symbol. Her symbolic death was not courted by fame. It has fallen into fame.
And we want to catch her before she does so, or maybe we half feel we should, at least if we have any tenderness in us. But already we are too late.