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10.05 : CLICKED!

On 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, 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.

Going 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.

To 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,
you have to shoot right?”
     “Yea, I know” he smiled.
     “Are you gonna do that?” she asked.
     “ 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 interrupted.
     “ Shoot”

Lance Oditt

10.13.05 | Incendiary Thought Continues....

In the week since we published the story about, its owner and operator, Chris Wilson, was arrested and charged with

• 100 counts of distribution or transmission of obscene materials
• 100 counts of offering to distribute or transmit obscene materials
• 100 counts of possession of obscene materials.

These 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.

Continuing 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, link to this address.

The 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 appropriately.

On 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 .

PAPER,fire Coverage Week Two:
The Other Story, Casualties of Anonymous War

1. World War 2 Era Photo of War Dead (from the South Pacific Theater)

2. coverage of American War Dead Returned Home
IMAGES: 12 | 3 | Also See Site Posting Photos of each named US Casualties

3.Iraq Insurgent Dead (As posted on no citation given)

Peter Turnley's Photos Essay of Gulf 1  War Dead

"Victims of US Aggression": Photo Essay

Former Feature Aralee Strange's Cut Up Poems:
Quelle Horruer + Utterly Persuaded

Lance Oditt
editor at semantikon dot com


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