the outer periphery of the anti-war march in Washington
in late September, a story broke about an amateur exhibitionist
web site offering US soldiers free access to their explicit
photo sections in exchange for photos of themselves
or war dead. In what could only be described as a stroke
of questionable timing, just after Lynndie England was
sentenced for her role in Iraqi prisoner abuse, military
spokesman stated they were investigating the matter.
Mere days later, it was announced, the investigation
had been finished, a boilerplate disclaimer issued,
nothing more has yet to be said. The site, nowthatsfuckedup.com
continues their offer, continues to post war dead photos.
I sense, as you likely do, that commerce is at hand.
But my disgust with warfare not helping matters, I visited
the web site, doing so because I want my wars served
up with all their consequences, served, without
the veil of “anonymity.” Served, as we know
the dead are treated as linguistic cargo.
through my grandfathers belonging after his death in
August from complications of Parkinson’s Disease,
I found, in his stack of images, WW2
era pictures he had kept of war dead. One in particular
resonated with me, a man who appears to be of asian
decent, twisted as the rope around his neck, face down
in the dirt. My grandfather had served in the South
Pacific toward the end of the war, and in collecting
such artifacts, he was not unlike many of his generation;
having both photos of the dead, and, war era pin-ups.
The former, capturing forever, a bind at moments, I
could tell haunted my grandfather. The latter, hand
painted babes brought to high art from humble beginnings
as bomber plane nose art and realized by Warhol and
Vargas both. No news in the story itself, though anonymous
pleasure for all involved appears afoot.
correlate the pin-up queen of the World War Two era
and the amateur housewife of today does not require
a great stretch of imagination. The physical features
may be different, Kathy pin-up is no longer some hand
painted Vargas filterless cigarette pageant queen, but
she is someone one could know. Today’s pin-up
is not high art, but certainly, popular; beauty that
any man without one wrapped around his arm would want.
I know a guy that probably would. Josh. Josh is the
most absolutely straight forward guy I know. Humble.
Polite. Catholic. 26 years old. When Josh decided college
wasn't for him, and couldn’t find a job worth
having, he decided to sign up for the Army, aiming to
become an Military Police Officer so he’d have
a job to come home to when he was done. Having lost
80lbs before basic, and having never once having had
sex. Before he left, I asked
“ Josh, can I get you a hooker, a girl, before
you go man?” Big smile
" ---Nah, I appreciate it, but I don’t wanna
have sex before marriage.”
“ The offer is good anytime.”
“ Okay.” And off he went.
If I were in Josh's shoes, I would find it easy to do
what soldiers in this situation are doing; imagining
some hometown girl from back there, somewhere where
people have names. Though she often comes with a blurred
wedding band, thick dark hair matching the thick black
censor bar over her eyes (after all, someone might see?),
I too would seek her out, in myself, and in places that
are not places, like the internet. Would welcome her,
would trade pictures of those I do not know, for those,
that through some persistence, I might begin to recognize.
The American media landscape on the whole, is more conducive
to the repetition of words that define an adversary
in armed conflict (terrorist, rebel, insurgent) than
they are to perform the task of delivering pictures
by which one might define the situation for themselves.
Geneva convention aside, too, the Islamic mores shunning
human depictions; it is apparent that the the dead are
the dead and do not give up their name any more readily
than if they had been captured through other means.
Why not show their pictures? Why not show the coffins
of our soldiers, shipped, cold steel. Shipped, cargo
---to East coast military bases because, what we have
after all, is a Connecticut president who can’t
see Texas when it’s a Mexican stand off he’s
gotten himself into. Arguments for media balance and
bias well aside, Bush of New England, a war of words,
the casualties wordless. What is real is the war. The
coffins are real. Obliterated bodies in the street are
real, our moral standing, the choice to neglect Geneva
conventions is real, there is little left to lose; and
exactly, no one who can be named for which to aim the
blame. Sign off on Geneva Convention once and for all,
insult the faith of our “liberated” foes?
No. Look to the pictures to discern the reality when
what we’ve been offered says less. Yes. I can
trust myself with photos, doctored or not, can you?
The framing of this war is un-remarkable compared to
how we, as media consumers, have received other wars.
The word play, the occlusions, subversions, arrogance,
all intact in the case of the Iraq War. I have been
told, Iraq is Bush’s Vietnam. Have heard, by not
hearing at all, that we are fighting no one and the
consequences are beyond my comprehension. Have heard,
from the left, we are fighting for no good reason. Neither
message soothes what haunted my grandfather. What juxtaposes
my thoughts now when as I revisit Josh in my memory.
The last last time I seen him after basic training and
before he was being sent off to learn how to be
a tank gunner.
"A tank gunner
Josh?" I said.
“Josh” my wife asked
him “You know if somebody is pointing a gun at
you have to shoot right?”
“Yea, I know” he
“Are you gonna do that?”
“ Yea Josh.” I
said “…don’t go there unless you can,
there’s no moment for doubt”
“ I have never been in
that situation, and I’m not altogether comfortable
with the thought of killing someone...but”
“ Josh” my wife
| Incendiary Thought Continues....
In the week since we published the story about nowthatsfuckedup.com,
its owner and operator, Chris Wilson, was arrested and
100 counts of distribution or transmission of obscene
• 100 counts of offering to distribute or transmit
• 100 counts of possession of obscene materials.
charges stem from the erotic material his members posted,
not the pictures of the war dead. One could easily surmise;
his ungainly strategy of marketing to soldiers may have
been the ample inspiration needed for those who are,
imaginably, as offended by pictures of death as they
are offended by pictures of that which causes it, sex.
As promised, see the real war now.
To read more censorship stories we’re tracking
this month, read below.
coverage of October 2005 Censorship Stories…
According to Reporters Without Borders, Yahoo
Hong Kong helped Chinese officials seek out and find
cyber dissident Shi Tao, through e-mail accounts and
computer to a messages. For more coverage on this story,
to this address.
House has passed new amendments on 18 U.S.C. §
2257 currently requiring records to be kept of the ages
and other information of performers in visual depictions
of actual sexually explicit conduct. Whereas the previous
regulation required age verification provisions and
accompanying documentation, the amended legislation
would throw out “actual” sexual conduct,
likes to include even simulated sexual conduct, and
will also include provisions which require documentation
for “lascivious exhibition of the genitals or
pubic area.”. In short, to record, even a heavy
make out session, may now fall under federal jurisdiction.
Of course, it claims to protect children. Please
review legislation here and act
the note of protecting children, the university-based
OpenNet Initiative (ONI) today released "Internet
Filtering in Burma in 2005," a report that documents
the degree and extent to which the government of Burma
controls the information environment in which its citizens
live, including web sites, blogs, email, and online
discussion forums. Of note, the use of western technologies
in carrying out online surveillance, content blocking,
and message filtering and interception. Read
the report here, visit
ONI site for additional studies on state filtration
and surveillance their impact on sovereignty, security,
human rights, international law, and global .
Coverage Week Two:
The Other Story, Casualties of Anonymous War
1. World War
2 Era Photo of War Dead (from the South Pacific Theater)
coverage of American War Dead Returned Home
IMAGES: 1 | 2
| 3 | Also See Site
Posting Photos of each named US Casualties
Dead (As posted on nowthatsfuckedup.com no citation
Turnley's Photos Essay of Gulf 1 War Dead
of US Aggression": Photo Essay
Former Feature Aralee Strange's Cut Up Poems:
Horruer + Utterly
at semantikon dot com