On 4 September, the AP okayed the distribution / publication of a photo of a mortally wounded Marine.

The response from many was that it was sensationalist/insensitive/an anti-war tactic/inappropriate/cruel to the family.

Others responded with the argument that the picture was horrible, yes. But so is war. Face it.

Ian and I talked about it last night.  It seemed important to have at least a fairly decided opinion of it. To not be completely on the fence.

“One has to take sides if one is to remain human,” says a character in The Quiet American.

Easier said than done.

We tried our best, but what it came down to was this:

1. If it were Ian who died, I would not want his picture published because I couldn’t stand to see it.

2. If it were him, I think part of me would want to allow publication because, outside of me and us and our relationship, he would have been a soldier in a war, and soldiers in wars die, and pretending they don’t by not printing certain pictures has the effect of “sanitizing” war. Fact is, it’s dirty and tiring and completely unromantic. Why pretend otherwise?

3. He said he would want it to publish because war is war and soldiers die in war.

4. He said he would not want it to publish if family members didn’t want it published.

Which brought us to…

5. What if no family members want the pictures published? What if no footage were released out of respect for the deceased’s families? (I almost wish that would happen, because I can’t stand to think of the fresh hell people must go through every year on 9/11 when the media re-air footage the planes flying into the towers.)

6. How do we know the real reason the papers and TV news outlets air such footage/images? Even if we want the pictures to offer an accurate representation of war, what if the media’s motivation is greed (sensationalism)?

We didn’t really have good answers for these questions.

In short, we still don’t know what our real answer is.

I’m pretty sure we remain human just the same, though.

What were your thoughts when this happened? Were you strongly for, against, or torn about the AP’s decision? Why?

[Previous post: Backword Books Trailer and an announcement.]


Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. People up here (in Maine, where Lance Corporal Bernard is from) have been talking about this quite a bit. I can understand why the AP would want to publish the photo. The war has been presented in a fairly sanitized way, when it gets any coverage at all, and sometimes we need an honest-to-god reminder of what is going on over there. But I truly think his family’s wishes should come first.


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About Kris Tsetsi

Kristen J. Tsetsi is the author of the novels "Pretty Much True..." and "The Year of Dan Palace" and the short fiction collection "20 Short Stories," all published under the name Chris Jane. Website: http://kristenjtsetsi.com




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