As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, April 23, 2004

Tales of freedom of speech

During last week's Presidential press conference, when we found out Our Leader has a vocabulary of 4 (freedom, terror, victory, and um), Bush said, "Nobody likes to see dead people on their TV screens. I don't." Unfortunately, his way of solving this problem is not to generate policy that keeps soldiers out of shooting galleries like Iraq, but to ban any images of dead people on TV screens. Or in print. Or anywhere, really. Case in point:

Woman fired by military contractor for published photograph of military coffins.

The Defense Department ban on displaying the human cost of war has actually been in place since we first invaded Iraq. Does something about how totalitarian governments first try to control the state media pop into your head when you hear stuff like this? Or do you just see random pages from Orwell, like I do?

It is an incredible act of hubris to think that we mere citizens should not have the right to view these photos. The official White House reason for banning images of the war dead is to "protect the sensitivities of the military families." Shouldn't that read "protect the sensitivities of the electorate"? War under Bush has been so stage-managed that I wouldn't be surprised if Iraq was actually just a Hope-and-Crosby road movie desert backdrop.

And now we find that the Coalition of the Willing Media never even bothered to, erm, find out if there were any pictures lying around Dover AFB.


Executives at news organizations, many of whom have protested the policy, said last night that they had not known that the Defense Department itself was taking photographs of the coffins arriving home, a fact that came to light only when Russ Kick, the operator of The Memory Hole, filed his request.
"We were not aware at all that these photos were being taken," said Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times.
John Banner, the executive producer of ABC's "World News Tonight," said, "We did not file a F.O.I.A. request ourselves, because this was the first we had known that the military was shooting these pictures."

Right, because the way journalism works is you wait until someone tells you what's going on, and then you report it. No, wait, that's how first grade works. I get them mixed up sometimes.