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Tuesday, September 27

A Serious Ethical Question

Randi Rhodes was ranting about this on Friday afternoon- US troops are exchanging gruesome photos of mutilated Iraqi's as currency for access to an amateur porn site where their credit cards wouldn't work from overseas. The heinous photos of disfigured corpses are available for all to see, yet the amateur porn requires paid registration. The site is nowthatsfuckedup.com.

I kind of took a look with my hands over my eyes and I didn't go very far due to the nausea factor, but one thing I noticed were the comments by those who visited the site. The comments just may have been more disgusting than the pictures, if that is possible. The titles of the pictures written by the troops were equally horrifying.

If you ask me, taking picture of people you just killed and posting them on the internet is most unethical and horrifying, yet there is something to be considered about what happens to those who are sent into battle -those who participate in a most barbarian part of being human that most of us hopefully will never experience- war.

Who or what is responsible for this behavior? The troops who traded gore for porn? Those who they killed in self defense? The webmaster of the site? Human being's fascination with the macabre? God? The military leaders who obviously don't have a clue as to what is going on? World leaders who send young people into war for political and economic reasons?

How many times have you slowed down on a highway to view a car crash? Compelling yet revolting, isn't it?

Eastbayexpress.com has a take on the phenomenon:
One soldier, who would not reveal his name or unit, defended his decision to post pictures of the dead, which he did after returning home. "I had just finished watching the beheading of one of our contractors that was taken hostage over in Iraq," he wrote in an e-mail. "I figured since that was all over the Web, maybe these pictures would make some potential suicide bomber think twice after seeing what happens AFTER you pull the pin.

"What you interpret [as] maliciousness and bravado may be how [soldiers] react to situations where they almost die or they just saw their buddy get killed," he continued. "I will not defend the people who have posted pictures of dead, innocent Iraqis, but in my opinion, the insurgents/terrorists that try to kill us and end up getting killed in return have absolutely no rights once they are dead."
Online Journalism Review has this from a soldier:
"Yes I have posted kill photos on other forum sites," Burke wrote me in his e-mail. "The computers are military financed if not owned by the military. I think that with all the service members who are over here it was obvious that photos of dead insurgents would surface as time went on and it is not a new occurrence. There have been pics from all wars of the fighters standing over the bodies of the enemy. The insurgents are more than willing to showcase our dead and wounded so if people have issues with what's shown on this site then they need to stay away and quit bitching about things they know nothing about.

"I made it real clear in most if not all of my posts how I feel about the Iraqi people in general and that feeling has not changed a bit in my time here. I [put] a good friend of mine [in a body bag] just a week ago and that really clinched it for me and my teammates. We will always shoot first and ask no questions, period. The military brass will always try to sanitize the effects of war, no matter when or where, and yes if it was possible they would censor all media coming out of this country, pics and stories."
and this:
Capt. Chris Karns, a Centcom spokesman, told me that there are Department of Defense regulations and Geneva Conventions against mutilating and degrading dead bodies, but that he wasn't sure about regulations concerning photos of dead bodies. He noted that the Bush administration did release graphic photos of the dead bodies of Uday and Qusay Hussein to the media.
and from the owner of a similar site regarding people's fascination with porn and mutilation:
"They both seem to be particularly arousing in an emotional way," Most said. "Emotional stimuli can be rated in different ways. You could see something and rate how positive or negative it is. But separate from that is how arousing the image is. A positive picture of a cute puppy dog could be positive but not that arousing, whereas a picture of an opposite sex nude could be just as positive but be rated as extremely arousing. And a picture of a mutilation could be rated as extremely negative but highly arousing. Lately there's been a lot of theories saying that what we're drawn to is the arousing nature of an image regardless of whether we see it as negative or positive."
More reports at TheNation.com, IsThatLegal.org, Nur al-Cubicle, and Americablog.

Thanks to reader Auntie Roo for all the links.

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