We Need to See Pictures of Soldiers in Coffins
If American citizens saw more pictures of soldiers coming home in coffins, the war would have ended sooner – and there would be more pressure now to end the war in Iraq NOW.
The Supreme Court just upheld a decision regarding the publication of the above photo by Harper’s Magazine.
This case concerns the publication of a photograph of the open casket of deceased U.S. soldier Kyle Brinlee in a photo essay by Peter Turnley that appeared in the August 2004 issue of Harper’s Magazine entitled: “The Bereaved: Mourning the Dead, in America and Iraq.” (Download a PDF of the article.)
Does it bother you to see a dead soldier and the hundreds of people who felt connected enough to the young man to show up for his funeral. Good, it should.
Our government has allowed the Defense Department to forbid the photographing of caskets arriving from overseas. It was initiated in 1991 to protect the privacy of grieving families. Of course this is ridiculous because all the caskets are closed and not identified in any way.
Those who remember the film, video, and stills of the dead being brought home from Vietnam will never forget.
Now we don’t see it. When we do, the family files suit to suppress the photograph.
John Fein writes in the Washington Times:
Photos of coffins are surrogates for numerators in the Iraqi war equation. When they become larger than the war’s denominators, the public may come to clamor for an end to aimless American deaths.
I believe that to be true. Congress needs to eliminate this restriction on the press. Most of us are untouched by the war. Sure, we think about it and read about it but we aren’t personally connected to any of the dead soldiers. Photographs of caskets will help us connect.
Do you know how many U.S. soldiers have died since the beginning of the war? Even in round numbers – to the closest hundred?
Photographs can move a nation. It’s time for the Pentagon, Defense Department, or Congress to make the change and show all of us the truth – no matter how painful.
This entry from Miss Doxie will always be the face of the Iraqi war for me:
My mother-in-law is retired military and every year she gives us the free calendar she gets from the Navy. This year’s calendar contains artsy photos of tanks in Iraq and so on. I find it SO offensive.
thanks for the link. I’m glad Miss Doxie is back, I never got to read her on your recommendation, because she took off.
I’ll put her in my RSS now.
If pictures had been allowed to be shown, the anti-war movement wouldn’t have taken this long to build. This is why so many people think of war in the abstract.
I am the father of Kyle. I filed suit against this photograph being published for all to see. I find it offensive that you think my son should be the poster-boy for a anti-war movement. Personally, I never supported this war; however, honoring my son’s sacrifice is more important to me than using this photgraph to express my political views. In addition, this photgraph was taken against the wishes of the family. Our grief is NOT a public event. We allowed many people to attend the funeral simply to honor our son. If you think publishing photgraphs will change the public’s opinion on the war, you are wrong. This photograph is wrong, and is a violation of privacy. The Appellate Court Justice hit it on the mark when they said “it may protected under the 1rst Amedment, but it is in bad taste”.