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September 23, 2009

When Photographs Lie

A photograph is nothing more than a tiny sliver of stopped time, pressed onto a flat surface, utterly devoid of context or soul. An unretouched photograph is visual truth.

This is what SangerM. argues in defense of Julie Jacobson's decision to violate an embed agreement she voluntarily signed, and upon which the Marine Corps relied when deciding whether she could be trusted with embed status. Had she refused to sign the agreement, she would have had no chance to publish a graphic photo in which a fellow human bled to death from the stumps of two severed legs.

Some might see her deception as a significant factor in the determination of whether she had any right to take that photograph. Some might argue that when an organization grants media access only under limited conditions agreed upon in advance, that any photographs taken in violation of that agreement are – by definition – unauthorized, to say nothing of being obtained by fraudulent means.

But Sanger's argument seems to be that agreements between human beings don't matter. Jacobson had the "right" to publish explicit photos of a young man's agony even though her access to his wounding was conditioned upon her agreement not to photograph it:

... it was Jacobson’s right to do so, and given that she was as much a participant in that battle as the three Marines, I say her story is at least as important as theirs if honestly told. Moreover, I believe the article accompanying the photo revealed exactly why she felt it was important. She wrote:
“That’s when I realized there was a casualty and saw the injured Marine, about 10 yards from where I’d stood…for the second time in my life, I watched a Marine lose his.

This is an interesting argument from someone who just finished accusing those who disagree with him of overemotionalism. Note what Sanger finds persuasive: Jacobson’s feelings about the story:

Who can watch another person die and not be affected, or have in his or her possession something like that photograph and not feel the need to show other people what is in your mind and your memory, what you experienced? Who can spend time with soldiers and marines, and go to war with them, and not be affected when one of them is wounded or killed?

Jacobson's feelings, to hear Sanger tell it, matter greatly. We should consider them. Those of LCpl. Bernard's family? Not so much.

Interestingly, Sanger never bothers to explain the nature of Jacobson's unspecified "right" to publish a photo obtained by fraudulent means. The First Amendment states that Congress shall pass no law abridging freedom of the press. But it wasn't Congress who asked Jacobson not to publish the image, was it? It was a private citizen: LCpl. Bernard's father. The AP has no Constitutional "right" to invade my home or my hospital room under false pretenses and publish photos of my dying moments, either.

Sanger sneeringly derides military families who objected to the AP's elevation of their judgment of what is newsworthy over compassion for a grieving family. Their lack of respect for the contract their employee signed is dismissed outright. Those who object are confused; not above it all; "conflating the issues":

when a topic is both emotionally charged and distorted by the heat of righteous indignation, people on both sides of this argument have tended to conflate and confuse the issues while damning without qualification everyone who feels differently than they. Because of this, a good deal of what I’ve read has been pejorative, mean, libelous, or slanderous (in the wider sense of the word), or even worse, arrantly stupid.... Frankly, this is not nearly as simple a point of argument as it appears to be, and everyone, including the otherwise to-be-admired Secretary Gates, should have taken a deep breath before reacting so viscerally to what was nowhere near as vile a deed as they felt it was.

Fortunately for Sanger, reasonable people (meaning those who agree with him) understand that Jacobson's feelings constitute adequate justification for violating both the trust the Marines placed in her integrity and her signed embed agreement. This is a profoundly logical argument unlike, say, the objections of Bernard's parents, who naively and unreasonably believed promises are supposed to count for something. Don't you just hate emotional arguments?

Luckily for those who prefer to base their opinions on cold, hard logic there is more of this coolly detached reasoning to come. You see, in the end what justifies disregarding one's sworn word and the pain of a bereaved family is an (again) wholly unsupported assertion that ... ummm... the photograph will inspire more important feelings. These acts are justifiable because Sanger knows just how other people will "feel" when they see it. They will, of course, feel exactly the way he did when he saw it. And his…feeling… is that it would be a mistake not to allow others to experience what he felt:

Even more important, they will feel what I felt: pride, sadness, anger at the enemy, sympathy for the family of the fallen, fear for the people we know who are still there, and more than anything else, a desperate longing for less troubled times. And therein lies the reason I disagree with people who say the image should not have been published, and that doing so was wrong. It’s not that I believe it had to be published, only that it would have been a mistake not to.

See? Logic is easy when you put aside your feelings and rely on the facts! We need to see photographs that - by their very nature - provoke a visceral reaction (even if he admits a photograph lacks context). Photographs portray the "truth" and therefore must be allowed in the name of the public's right to experience profound moments of emotional truth. Echoing this argument, a NY Times photographer echoes the "photos that grab us by the guts help us comprehend truth" mantra:

I consider myself as much historian as photographer, having spent a 40-year career endeavoring to make photographs that inform, not misinform. My heroes are the likes of Joe Rosenthal, who photographed the Marines raising the flag over Iwo Jima; Eddie Adams, whose photo of a South Vietnamese police officer shooting a Viet Cong suspect changed the course of a war; and countless others who have hung their lives out to capture the facts through the lens of a camera. Their photos have provided a raw and unflinching view of the world and have contributed to a free society’s understanding of sometimes harsh reality.

There's only one problem with this argument. The Eddie Adams photo he so proudly points to as an example of "photographs that inform, not misinform" did not capture the facts. What it did do was evoke emotions so strong that they eclipsed the truth. Viewers saw a cringing victim in the instant before being brutally shot by a heartless aggressor. What the photo did not and could not convey was the "why" behind the shooting; the nuance that is far more common in real life than stark black and white depictions of the choices we make. But that didn't matter. The photo was "gripping":

... the really disturbing image is of Nguyen Ngoc Loan shooting a man. Everybody has seen this picture or the film of the incident. A cruel and angry South Vietnamese General executes what appears to be a defenseless Vietcong prisoner. Eddie Adams, The AP photographer who snapped the photo, earned a Pulitzer Prize for the picture. That picture helped galvanize the anti-war effort in the United States. Hubert Humphrey, at the time the photo was taken, was on the verge of challenging President Johnson for the Democratic nomination for president. The photo (and subsequent NBC film) helped stir sentiment to the point that Johnson announced he would not seek a second term only two months later. It is one of the most powerful icons for everything that was supposedly wrong with that war. It is precisely the sort of professional coup that a reporter who's "Dying to Tell the Story" dreams of getting.

Except Eddie Adams wishes he never took the picture.

He wished he'd never taken the photo, because the image caused America to believe a lie.

After the photo was seen around the world, the AP assigned Adams to hang out with General Loan. He discovered that Loan was a beloved hero in Vietnam, to his troops and the citizens. "He was fighting our war, not their war, our war, and every — all the blame is on this guy," Adams told NPR (in what may have been the most surprisingly courageous NPR interview I've ever heard). Adams learned that Loan fought for the construction of hospitals in South Vietnam and unlike the popular myths, demonstrated the fact that at least some South Vietnamese soldiers really did want to fight for their country and way of life.

Just moments before that photo had been taken, several of his men had been gunned down. One of his soldiers had been at home, along with the man's wife and children. The Vietcong had attacked during the holiday of Tet, which had been agreed upon as a time for a truce. As it turned out, many of the victims of the NC and North Vietnamese were defenseless. Some three thousand of them were discovered in a mass grave outside of Hue after the Americans reoccupied the area. The surprise invasion, turned out to be a military disaster for the Vietcong, but a huge strategic victory because of its effect on American resolve.

But at the time, all of this was irrelevant to people like Loan. It was an ugly, shocking assault. The execution of the prisoner was a reprisal. It was an ugly thing to be sure, but wars, civil wars especially, are profoundly ugly things.

Adams wrote in Time magazine, "The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them, but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths. What the photograph didn't say was, 'What would you do if you were the general at that time and place on that hot day, and you caught the so-called bad guy after he blew away one, two or three American soldiers?'"

The picture that Adams took, the picture that CNN thinks is such an atrocious and ignoble deed, ruined Loan's life. More to the point, it didn't expand on "our right to know." It didn't answer questions, or give us the story. It deceived. It gave no context. It confirmed the biases of the anti-war journalists, and they used it to further their agenda.

Loan fled Vietnam during the fall of Saigon for the US. He eventually moved to Burke, Virginia. He tried to open a restaurant in Northern Virginia, but when the identity of its owner became known, it closed down. Protestors circled the establishment venting their fashionable, safe, outrage.

The two men stayed in touch, and Adams tried to apologize many times.

"He was very sick, you know, he had cancer for a while," he told NPR. "And I talked to him on the phone and I wanted to try to do something, explaining everything and how the photograph destroyed his life and he just wanted to try to forget it. He said let it go. And I just didn't want him to go out this way."

General Loan died a year and a month ago. He left a wife and five kids. Most of the obituaries were, like the photograph that ruined his life, two dimensional and unforgiving. Adams sent flowers with a card that read, "I'm sorry. There are tears in my eyes."

When I saw the photo of LCpl. Bernard - not voluntarily, but because some callous soul posted it at the top of a web page I loaded without knowing the image was there - there were tears in my eyes too.

I did not feel any of the things SangerM felt. And unlike him, I'm not willing to airily dismiss the pain Lance Corporal Bernard's family feels when they see their son's life and service reduced to a flat, two dimensional image that says precisely nothing about how he lived or why he was on the field of battle that day. I'm not willing to privilege his feelings, or Julie Jacobson's, over those of a family who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

And I understand why LCpl. Bernard's father believes the image is disrespectful to his son's memory, even if Sanger finds the idea unreasonable and illogical. Justin Bernard was far more than a set of mangled legs. He was not a victim of war, but a soldier fighting for a cause he believed in deeply. But no one, now, will remember him that way. The publication of a grisly and sensationalistic photo made Joshua Bernard's injuries more important than who he was. And the feelings of a reporter who "wrestled" with what was more important - saving a human life or getting that all important footage she'd promised not to "capture" - are adjudged by some to have more relevance than simple human compassion or decency:

...for embedded photojournalist Julie Jacobson and her bosses at the Associated Press, this attack was a Kodak Moment. Jacobson captured a vivid and dramatic photograph of the scene: Bernard’s gruesome wound is shown in all its bloody detail, and his young face, sickly pale and blank with shock, is haunting. The article that Jacobson and AP reporter Alfred de Montesquiou filed stated that, as that young man was exsanguinating, the photographer “wrestled” with a “question”: Should she try to help save Joshua, or should she keep taking pictures?

We all know what her decision was. Whether it was a "decent" thing to do, I leave to wiser, or perhaps just less dispassionate, heads to decide.

Those who are actually curious about what kind of man Joshua Bernard was can read what his father has to say about him here. Or you can continue to delude yourself that a gruesome photograph of a young man slowly bleeding to death somehow conveys a deeper truth about war and the kind of men who fight it.

As for me, there are tears in my eyes. There will always be tears in my eyes when I think of Joshua Bernard. I hope that I am never ashamed to admit it.

Posted by Cassandra at September 23, 2009 05:30 PM

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Comments

The article that Jacobson and AP reporter Alfred de Montesquiou filed stated that, as that young man was exsanguinating, the photographer “wrestled” with a “question”: Should she try to help save Joshua, or should she keep taking pictures?

Maybe it's just me, but I doubt she "wrestled" with that question -- I doubt it even entered her mind at the time.

Posted by: BillT at September 24, 2009 01:16 AM

If there's a Hell, I hope that Julie Jacobson goes there. I know that's not a very Christian sentiment, but I'm none too charitable towards scumbags...

Posted by: camojack at September 24, 2009 01:19 AM

A cruel and angry South Vietnamese General executes what appears to be a defenseless Vietcong prisoner.

Eddie Adams took a series of photos, but the one taken immediately before General Loan raised his pistol and shot the terr would have shown more of the story. The terr was sneering defiantly at Loan, "You caught me -- so what?"

Naturally, *that* picture didn't fit the agenda.

Posted by: BillT at September 24, 2009 01:34 AM

I don't wish Jacobson ill.

And I understand all the arguments about how photos bring horrific events home to us on a personal level.

I used the examples of how the media regularly protect entire classes of people to highlight the fact that they recognize the privacy and compassion factors. Where the military is concerned, however, they simply don't believe either factor is important.

The fact of the matter is that both Sanger's argument and the media's rest on the presumption that it's somehow "more important" to confront the public with the "reality" of war than it is to confront us with the "reality" of sexual abuse or rape.

I don't find this argument convincing. Essentially it's an inconsistently applied end justifies the means argument that presupposes I agree with their values.

And I don't.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 24, 2009 09:37 AM

As I stated in my response in that thread, I agree with his premise that there is nothing inherently disrespectful in the photograph itself. An image, like any other weapon, is neither good nor bad, respectful or disrespectful, kind or cruel. It is only in it's use that it becomes so. And the fact is, the photographer and her employers at the AP have used it in a cruel and disrespectful manner.

Much as a forensic photographer can capture images of a gruesome car crash, and those photos become a record of the incident, they can remain clinical, respectful and useful... and yet never be published. Publishing them in the newspaper would make them voyeuristic, disrespectful and gratuitous. When Jacobson took the photo, there was no harm inherent in the act. The harm took place when the photo was published. The harm was exacerbated by the fact that the parents' objections were ignored. Anything else said by the AP as to the reasons or justifications for publishing are just so much smoke.

Posted by: MikeD at September 24, 2009 09:58 AM

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 09/24/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

Posted by: David M at September 24, 2009 11:06 AM

...utterly devoid of context... An unretouched photograph is visual truth.

The latter statement cannot be true for the exact reasons of the former.

By removing the context you, by definition, misrepresent the scene. Sometimes this is misrepresentation is beneficial. That you were fighting with your kids all the way up until the photographer snapped your family portrait is something you *want* no one to see.

The very act of taking the picture at *that* moment instead of another, or that you moved the camera to exclude the unsightly light pole from the landscape scene is an excersize in editorializing and bias. That you cropped out the lightpole in photoshop isn't what makes it "visual untruth".

And I'll just reiterate what I said on the post at Argghhh. Who had the "right" doesn't much matter to me.

The right to do a thing is not at all the same as being right in doing it.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at September 24, 2009 11:15 AM

I realize that this is both a value judgment and a question of aesthetics, but I think it all comes down to how one defines a reasonable expectation of privacy.

The press will argue that his wounding occurred, not behind closed doors, but out in the open and therefore they were perfectly justified in snapping away as he bled to death. IOW, a human being has no reasonable expectation of privacy if he happens to be grievously wounded in public.

I question that assumption. To me, there is a fundamental decency and consideration for the suffering of others than would cause most of us to look away at such a moment; give the person some space. A person in extremis is not in full control of himself. And dying is about as exquisitely personal event as can be.

The AP is treating Marines like public figures, but they are not. A battlefield, actually, is not a public venue. Jacobson wouldn't even have been allowed near it unless she signed the embed agreement, part of which included the understanding that American troops would protect her, even at the cost of their own lives, so she could be somewhere it wasn't otherwise safe to be.

I agree that one might argue anyone *can* snap away at such a moment. But how many of us, if it were a civilian in similar straights, would do so? I would wager, not many and for reasons I think we all understand on a gut level: if it were us lying there bleeding to death, we would not want our dying moments to be published to the world.

Unlike Mike, I say the photo should not even have been taken. I would not do so and I think Jules Crittenden was wrong to say "you always take the picture" because a photographer does not have complete control over his or her work product.

I have written several times that the enemy is due the same consideration we are. I have flagged videos at Youtube that show enemy dead or wounded for this reason, so the supposed hypocrisy argument doesn't work for me. It's the same principle.

Then there's the "I pay my taxes so I own everything about you" argument. It's hard to think of anything more offensive than this, but some people are incapable of seeing anything other than their own needs. We don't pay soldiers to die, or for the "right" to watch them die.

We pay them to fight. Film them fighting if you wish. But their deaths are their own. At that moment they are not performing the job for which they are paid, and in any event the fact that their salaries are funded by tax dollars doesn't change the fact that they EARN their paychecks.

They are free men and women, not indentured servants who give up all their rights by virtue of being on the government payroll. We are an entitlement culture. We think we have a "right" to everything.

But there are limits. Or at least there should be.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 24, 2009 11:30 AM

I have seen people die.

I have never felt the need, or even the desire to share the experience with anyone.

Except that SOB that.....

But that aside, I conclude the photographer must have wanted to share.

Posted by: tomg51 at September 24, 2009 02:13 PM

Unlike Mike, I say the photo should not even have been taken.

If the photo was taken, and control of it was given to the family (I specify control to differentiate that to forcing them to see it), so that the family could dispose of it how they wished, then I am completely fine with it. If the photographer had done that, I doubt we'd object to it being taken. But that's predicated on the family being the ones to make the decision as to what to do with that photo. They couldn't be there to take it, so without the photographer there, they'd have no choice at all. So thus, I cannot object to the photo being taken. After all, more choices are generally speaking, better than less. Personally, I'd much rather have a photo of my family member that was taken hours before they went on patrol, as that's how I'd prefer to remember them than one of them in pain. But I'm not going to make that decision for anyone else.

The problem in this case is that while the photographer was there and could take the photo, rather than give control of it over to the family to keep, use or dispose of how they wished, it was instead 'whored out' by the AP. They turned what could have been closure for one family into pornography. And honestly, that is really where it comes down for me Cass. If I were to photograph my spouse in a state of undress (with her consent of course) for myself, that's fine. If it is sold for someone else's prurient interest, then it has crossed the line into pornography. The taking of the photo is not an evil act, it is the use it is put to that makes it so.

Posted by: MikeD at September 24, 2009 02:46 PM

M'lady, you make your case and you do so in a charitable way.

As for me, after the past nine months, preceded by the past eight years, of progressive hypocrisy, deceit, sound and fury, I find myself squarely in Camo's camp. With little to zilch that is good to say about a large segment of our society.

I beginning to think that I need to start a Bail Bond Savers account to go along with my Christmas Savers account.

Posted by: bthun at September 24, 2009 03:28 PM

Before I weigh in, I wish to repeat that I condemn the publication of the photo of the dying LCpl. Bernard. Now …

“The execution of the prisoner was a reprisal. It was an ugly thing to be sure, but wars, civil wars especially, are profoundly ugly things.”

“Reprisal” sounds like something that would not be permitted by the standard ROE.

Wars are ugly things; people do ugly things.

LCpl. Bernard got caught in that ugly thing (war) and found himself in front of a camera which took a photo which was subjected to an ugly thing (publication).

We all are pawns in a game that the gods play with us; the game (life) is not fair; and eventually it kills us all.

Posted by: I Call BS at September 24, 2009 06:12 PM

“Reprisal” sounds like something that would not be permitted by the standard ROE.

Actually, it was. The man was engaged in the assassination of soldiers and their families and did so, as you can easily see in the picture, out of uniform. (Engaged in unlawful combat out of uniform, anything sound familiar?)

This puts him well outside of the Geneva Protections for POWs.

From Wiki: Summary execution.

Article 4 of the Third Geneva Convention of 1949, francs-tireurs were entitled to prisoner of war status provided that they are commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates, have a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance, carry arms openly and conduct their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war. If they do not do all three of these, they may be executed out of hand.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at September 24, 2009 06:59 PM

... the laws and customs of war are a'changing ... and the much of the "uncivilized" parts of the world is tending toward anarchy, unfortunately ...

Posted by: I Call BS at September 24, 2009 07:37 PM

Speaking of, next time you hear someone complain that we should give the Gitmo detainees Geneva convention rights, remind them of Article 4, because that's what they're actually asking for.

Mind you, I have a fairly liberal, but thoughtful, friend who I enjoy verbally sparring with. He espouses giving them Article 4 "protections". As opposed to detaining them indefinitely. So not your typical bleeding heart, he.

Posted by: MikeD at September 25, 2009 08:58 AM

...the laws and customs of war are a'changing...

The laws and customs of war remain the same.

It is the politically-correct interpretation and application of them which is "a'changing"...

Posted by: BillT at September 25, 2009 09:08 AM

Regardless, you still gotta wear some kind of uniform.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at September 25, 2009 10:54 AM

"The press will argue that his wounding occurred, not behind closed doors, but out in the open and therefore they were perfectly justified in snapping away as he bled to death. IOW, a human being has no reasonable expectation of privacy if he happens to be grievously wounded in public."

Cass, now this is true. For both civies and non. That may mean that the media are a maccabre bunch to begin with, but that's rather tangential to the publishing of the photo. I know of trucker accidents where the decapitated body of the poor shlub made it into the paper. I know a mother in Japan who would love to show you the autopsy fotos of her son, so you'd slow the hell down, and did so in Japan(even though her son was killed in the US).

They, the media, intrude on everyone, they don't always flaunt it. So you're in a sense saying that to be consistent they have to intrude and flaunt equally? Weren't you one who wrote something about consistency being a trap at times?

A media fracker can use his press pass to get into a families home to photograph a murder scene---someplace which one could argue has much more inherent privacy than a battlefield since the media type can go onto the field if they so choose(just without the benefits of protection)--- and that's legal.

But we're going very far afield here.

Sanger's initial point, not the further talking he did in the thread in reaction to other's points which always seems to leave one open to attacks via selective quoting and contextualizing, was one I've often raised: yes, it may be despicable, but it may also be necessary at times because there are competing factors; there does exist a right for the rest of us to know what's going on out there in a non-abstract manner.

Even Grumpy seems to agree, with his talk of a balanced disk, that there are compeeting needs here.

Sanger was hiting at a principle I don't particularly share(though it is quite heavily shared at The Castle): empathy with the guys at the Sharp End. We should all be getting angry over that photo according to Sanger; not because of the photog, but because of the enemy effected the Marine's death.

The sad fact is, sometimes your needs will be ignored, Cass. It sucks. It's also sometimes necessary for bigger reasons than a single person(the stupid line from Star Trek: Wrath of Khan.).

I have a question that seems to never get answered in this type of argument: how are those of us who don't have blood kin in the fight supposed to feel any connection to our Armed Forces if we live in a constant love/hate push/pull relationship? If they're our Armed Forces aren't we supposed to have something to give us the emotional attachment, or is that only supposed to be done via the joy-joy scripted parties? How are we supposed to be 'at war' with them instead of being 'at the Mall'?(Gawd, I wish I was at the Mall.)

Where you start seems to determine where you end on this one. Too bad I have no direction anymore.

Sometimes things are bigger than the individual. It sucks, but sometimes true.

Before any of you start loading up the blunderbuss(fat chance o' that), go read what I said when John initially posted. I'm not in favor of what this photo-journo did. She broke her contract, which required her to heed the requests of family. But, there is at times a need for images like this to make it out into the public consciousness, even things like Dover, because we are one nation, an amalgum, and not a freakin' salad bowl.

Otherwise we're not One Team with One Fight, but seperate camps occupying the same geography; and your camp isn't going to win any fight, anywhere, without the support of the other one. Sucks, but true.

Another: How are the media and the military supposed to stop having an adversarial, 'the other guy is the mysterious mountain gorilla emerging from the mists', relationship if the media aren't given a little lassitude at times to do things other than 'look at our brave and patriotic soldiers'? And given that most of the reportage has gone thru the DoD filter, with something like this being a rarity, how this can be true:"Where the military is concerned, however, they simply don't believe either factor is important."

Sanger may have gone a little overboard, but he was, in my mind, talking about a phenomenon more than the single episode: the position that someone who does something one does not like is evil instead of just wrong, the defining of evil down to the point of irrelevancy(something he's done before in castigating people over the use of 'Nazi' and 'fascist').

Posted by: ry at September 25, 2009 11:54 PM

How do you connect? I don't have blood kin in this fight. Daddy retired 18 years ago. My brother only did one enlistment, and he got out before Daddy did. None of my cousins went into the military (none of my uncles - on mom's side, dad was an only child - did either). I had a friend in the Army that I sent Christmas cards to (I meet him when he was a recruiter in NW AR), and he didn't bother to share with me & my best friend (who was also his friend) that his unit out of Sill (when he was able to go back to the "real" Army - he HATED being a recruiter) to tell us he was deployed until after he returned. I scolded him for that; he's retired now, living somewhere in the NW.

Anyhow, how am I connecting? Originally, I found AdoptAPlatoon and eMailOurMilitary, then AnySoldier.com, and finally Soldiers' Angels. I don't have to see photos of a young Marine dying to be able to connect to what's going on. I guess it's just that I and people like me care about the soldiers and Marines enough to begin with to seek out that connection without waiting to see some horrific image on the front page of the paper...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at September 26, 2009 02:31 AM

Ah, foolish me. For thinking that there are other ways, deeper and more important ways, of connecting with friends in the military than baking them cookies and sending emails. For shame.

You know, like buying drinks for a bud just back from Fallujah, and being able to talk him thru what he's feeling *because I saw it* and can understand it having seen it in ways I never could by simply reading about it. Nah. ry's just stupid, again, as usual. Nah. That's just for other Warrior's to do, us civies, we just gotta stay in our lane, and let people blow their frickin' brains out because there's a stigma of getting help from officialdom. STUPED me.

Yeah, me and my set are just vultures out to get our rocks off seeing dead people, dontchaknow.

Bye Cass. ;)

Posted by: ry at September 26, 2009 08:42 PM

What? Just because I might see a picture of a dying Marine or soldier in the newspaper, I'll actually be able to TRULY relate to what some of them have experienced? Maybe it's just me, but seeing a photo in the paper just can't compare to the experience of actually being there, hearing the sounds, smelling the smells. I would never presume to tell a combat vet "I know what you're going through" because I don't, and I never could, without actually having been in that kind of situation. That doesn't mean I can't still reach out to military members. Last week, I volunteered for an event for wounded warriors and their families. It was about letting them know that there are people out there who care about them, who honor their service and sacrifice. Some of them, you couldn't tell by looking what their injuries were, but others were obvious. Some were in wheelchairs and missing limbs, others had those brace things with the pins going into their limb. Bottom line: I do more than bake cookies and send emails. I - and many of the people who frequent Cassandra's place - have made a personal decision to DO SOMETHING to support/help those who risk life and limb for those of us back here.

IMO, those who don't get that we are a nation at war, and that war is an ugly thing, without seeing that kind of photo of the front page are not likely to make the effort to reach out to our vets either way.

I also have a friend who has publicly (through his blog) talked about his PTSD issues and the fact that he is seeking help. Is he being ostracized for it? Not by those people who care about him. I read what he relates about what he experienced, and I wish I could just give him a great big hug and tell him I'm proud of him for serving his country, and proud of him for seeking help in dealing with his PTSD, and even more proud of him for talking about it so openly because he does so to be a good example to others like himself who haven't yet sought the help they need, and deserve.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at September 26, 2009 11:21 PM

This what we can expect when embedding a reporter with no integrity and a religion of moral equivalence. These "ends justify the means" fools sans moral compass and the fatal flaw of an inability to identify the true enemy actively support the foe and weaken their own defenders.

The reporter learned nothing with her association with these "Band Of Brothers."

Posted by: vet66 at September 27, 2009 07:36 AM

how are those of us who don't have blood kin in the fight supposed to feel any connection to our Armed Forces if we live in a constant love/hate push/pull relationship? If they're our Armed Forces aren't we supposed to have something to give us the emotional attachment, or is that only supposed to be done via the joy-joy scripted parties? How are we supposed to be 'at war' with them instead of being 'at the Mall'?(Gawd, I wish I was at the Mall.)

Ry, there are plenty of ways to inform the public.

I sort of thought that that was what I was doing, writing those tributes: trying to give people some sense of who these men and women were/are.

I reject - utterly - the idea that showing photos like that is "necessary". That's crap. A well written article can give people a far better idea of what's going on that a gory photo ever will. As Sanger admitted, it's flat, two-dimensional and without context.

And the argument that some people are "too lazy" to read an article?

Wow. So it's better to traumatize a family and disrespect the servicemember on the off chance that some jackass who can't be bothered to read an article will sit up and take notice?

Not buying it. I have never denied that there are competing wants (not needs, Ry - you don't "need" to see some guy bleed to death to understand the concept of sacrifice). Wants.

I just happen to place the wants of a family who has already made the ultimate sacrifice FAR above the wants of people who want it made easier for them to understand.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 27, 2009 05:15 PM

I just happen to place the wants of a family who has already made the ultimate sacrifice FAR above the wants of people who want it made easier for them to understand.

Amen.

Posted by: MikeD at September 28, 2009 09:11 AM

Ah, foolish me. For thinking that there are other ways, deeper and more important ways, of connecting with friends in the military than baking them cookies and sending emails. For shame.

No one said there aren't other ways. There are lots of other ways, it's just that many of us think *this* way isn't a very respectful one.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at September 28, 2009 10:21 AM

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