Friday, September 4, 2009

What We Should See

There's a big stink at the moment, about the AP's decision to publish a photo of a Marine in his last moments of life. I saw it come up as an aritcle about the stink, not the stink-causing article itself. So I went looking for the image, to see what all the stink was about, and I found this:

I thought, "Ah, that must be it. Then I read the caption: it said "dying Marine on the road to Seoul." That whapped me hard. I was looking for an image of a young man dying in one senseless, "modern" war, and as if one senseless war isn't enough, I get dragged all the way back to Korea. Amazing.

Stunned but unstaisfied, I kept hunting. Here's the Big AP Stink image:

The young lad, one Lance Corporal Joshua Bernard, may he rest in peace, was hit by rocket shrapnel and died.

He died, some other soldiers died, and other people have died too. Women, children, civilians--ours and theirs, as if there's really any difference between one dead human and another, in terms of cost. Is an American life inherently worth more than an Iranian one, or an Afghani one? (hint: the answer is NO). All dead. Dead dead dead. Death is the price of war.

One of the things I remember about the Viet Nam 'conflict' was seeing images that disturbed my child's mind. It really made me wonder why all this was going on, why people had to die for what seemed to me then very silly reasons. The images were there, though, all over the six o'clock news.

Small wonder I grew up hating the news, and newspapers, and talk radio. They all stank like death.

Nowadays, I listen to talk radio and watch news--mostly online. I get the NY Times tweets, and a few other sources, too. I like to vet information. So this AP story about the big stink around the picture caught me for one primary reason: The dearth of images of our current war. It's been made terribly easy for us, as Americans, to not even notice we're *at* war. Well, we are. And not to beat a dead soldier, but death is the price of war.

Should we see the cost of war? Will that help us become so disgusted and appalled at our collective choices that we begin to make different choices, choices that don't result in corpses--or near corpses--that need to be photographed? Is that why some people are trying to say that publishing this stinky photo of a Marine in his death throes is a horrible thing, because there's some sense in our administrators that if us plain old regular people see these images we might get just a little bit miffed and want to do something about it?

At the very least, we should make sure that what we're purchasing with this abundance of death is worth the price we pay for it. I don't know about you, but I prefer to see what I'm buying before I pay.

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