The New York Times Lens blog published a very insightful story on the death of Lance Cpl. Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard, 21, of New Portland, Me., and The Associated Press' choice to release the image of the mortally wounded soldier, by photographer Julie Jacobson. The Marine's father, John Bernard, requested for the image not to be released. I can completely understand his request. I would have done the same thing if he was my son. Personally, I wouldn't want to see the picture of my son dying as I was browsing a newspaper. However, the Internet allows for news sites to warn people about content before "passing the page", and the NYT did this very tactfully. And I think it's important that we know the consequences of war, and the price we have to pay. Mr. Bernard, I thought you'd like to know that the memory of your son is honored greatly by all of us, and seeing the picture we share your pain.
Thank you AP for consulting with the family. Did anybody consult the families of the victims of 9/11 before the videos of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center towers were shown over and over? Yes, it was important to see. But did we have to see them so many times? Did we get warnings about the "explicit images" before they were shown?
Perhaps the reason is that the 9/11 images were building a case for a war against an invisible enemy. And Jacobson's image shows the reality of that war. God save us, this photo may shift our priorities and have our country demand the end of illegal wars and torture; and we may even ask to have money taken out of the obscene military budget and used for the education and health care of our children. Wait, we asked for that already.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates wrote to The Associated Press: “Why your organization would purposefully defy the family’s wishes knowing full well that it will lead to yet more anguish is beyond me. Your lack of compassion and common sense in choosing to put this image of their maimed and stricken child on the front page of multiple American newspapers is appalling. The issue here is not law, policy or constitutional right — but judgment and common decency.”
Mr. Gates, I applaud our military for their self-less service to our country, and I question our willingness to readily go to war. Excuse me if I borrow your words for my response to you: “Why your organization (my government) would purposefully defy the family’s wishes (millions of Americans marching against the invasion of Iraq) knowing full well that it will lead to yet more anguish (tens of thousands of civilian and military deaths) is beyond me. Your lack of compassion and common sense in choosing (to put our children at risk of being maimed and stricken) is appalling. The issue here is not law, policy or constitutional right — but judgment and common decency.”
Thank you soldiers for defending my freedom of speech. I'm sorry some of you had to die for it. Come home soon. Your families and loved ones miss you.