Ouch! Farked in the Memory Hole By Dead Guys!*
We've all seen the fuss and dustup about the pictures of flag-draped coffins (FDCs). I noticed last night that The Memory Hole
was, as we say, "farked,**" and that it's still down today. The Memory Hole,*** of course, is the site of Russ somebody (gimme a break on the name--it's not like I know the guy personally), who just recently got a big consignment of FDC photos from the government via a Freedom Of Information Act request, and promptly put them up on his site, right about the time that the same sort of image breaks in the press.
Now I'm kind of abivalent about the whole issue of whether or not we, the public, should be seeing an increasingly long and wide parade of dead servicemen coming home. I'm not sure it would serve to stir the populace against the war, remind us of the noble sacrifices of our countrymen, or even damage the privacy of the families involved, which seem to be the justifications for arguing about the whole point.
What I see here is that both sides involved seem to want to control these dead bodies for their own purposes. You can be pretty sure that if these soldiers thought their return in a metal box with a flag on it would inflame the populace against the war, they'd be 100% behind the secrecy thing. Don't kid yourself that any significant numbers of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq are opposed to our military actions over there. If they're complaining, it's more likely because it's a hardship, and the current administration is a lot more interested in political posturing than in making these extended assignments easier on families left behind or giving the military something concrete to work on. It's turned into a clusterfuck in this instance, but I think mostly the troops are behind the general idea of shooting people to bring democracy to the dirty, ignorant "other," wherever they may be.
I'm not really sold on the concept that an endless parade of these FDCs would make the average American more keenly aware of the cost of this "war," either. I thought the media and liberal argument on these lines was usually that seeing too much of something on TV desensitizes you to it--makes it bother you less
. Or maybe that's just artificial
violence and death, like in movies and videogames, not real
death. I think the people who'd really find the FDCs fuel for their personal inflammations are already ranting about the whole business. Most people already have their ideas about all this, and there's no shifting them--I offer as evidence of this the fact that something over 50% of Americans still
think Iraq was directly involved in the September 11th attacks. Where have those people been? With their heads in the sand? Yep. And they're likely to keep them there too, coffins or no. So we're left with the FDC issue as something to beat on Bush about, and not much else.
Does the Administration deserve to be beaten on about this? I think so. They can't offer any better defense of their "no photos" position than that it might invade the privacy of the families of the dead soldiers being shown in completely anonymous, unmarked coffins. That's plainly bullshit, so we're left to assume they're afraid their liberal foes are right, and that body bags=no votes. Given that Bush is too much of a political coward to "invade the privacy" of the families of dead soldiers and attend a fucking funeral or two, or even allow any protesters within a half-mile of him at any time, I'm inclined to think the worst. It would also fit right in with their mania for secrecy which is, to be frank, getting completely pathological.
And then there's the press, who've obviously been gagging for a chance to show FDCs--now that the seal's been broken, they're all blasting that one image all over the place. I realize that it sells papers and brings ratings, thus selling ad space and commercial time, and that mostly that's what newspapers and TV are all about, despite their claims to the contrary, but it seems absurd. We see it time and time again--the press are all above some sensationalist news item until one of them finally breaks down and runs it. Then they can all run it, and choose their angle: "Finally! Someone was brave enough to say it. Here's a picture;" or "Shame on them. Shocked, shocked I tell you. Here's a picture." It strikes me as kind of indecent and more than a little insulting, since they seem to think we don't have the brains to identify hipocrisy like that. It's possible that a lot of people don't have the brains, but you'd think it might be a courtesy to the rest of us to be a little less goddamned transparent.
All in all, though I don't believe in deities or an afterlife and believe that the dead people are just dead and can't possibly care anymore, it seems to me there are more respectful things to do and say about dead soldiers than turn them into political footballs.
With all that said, I sure hope that the reason The Memory Hole is down is because of a ton of traffic, and not because someone, be they government or other, has taken it upon him- or herself to bring it down. If you haven't been there, and it ever comes back, you should have a look at the site. A lot of what's on there is boring, frankly, but the idea that the government is constantly trying to revise its own history and make you forget the shitty (or at least dodgy) things it's done or is doing is a chilling one. This revisionism needs to be brought out into the light, and I hope it continues to be exposed long after the current fucksticks in office are gone.
And lay off the dead guys. They've had a tough day already.
*Google that, motherfuckers!
**I get my concept of "farking" from fark.com, a humorous news aggregator site. Generally, if a website (even some fairly big-time ones) gets a mention on Fark, it winds up collapsing under the weight of the visitors in very short order. Sites that are crushed by traffic from Fark are, natcherly, "farked." Recently, they posted a listing about a guy who built a Tron costume for one total geekfest or another ("Be there and be square."). While you have to give the guy props for the hard work he put in, he looked like a total lame-oid, or perhaps lame-o-tron. He was really too fat for the part, and most of the Fark commentary centered around his alarming camel toe, with lots of people posting pictures of athletic supporters, etc. I gotta say I agree--this guy could have done well with a dance belt, the medieval torture device most male dancers wear to turn identifiable genitalia into a smooth, rounded hummock. He'd have had MAJOR panty lines from it, but we wouldn't have known quite so much about his balls, which would have been nice (Madre de dios! Mi ojos!). Anyway, the guy was generally abused in a public forum by well over 100 farkers. I have to say that most enjoyed one of the last postings, where someone pointed out that this guy's home server had been listed on Fark and Somethingawful.com (another noted site-breaker), and was still running strong. You gotta give props to the guy for being totally true to his geekness and having a bombproof setup.
***Weird--I keep typing "The Memory Ole," which I'm pretty sure should either be "El Recuerdo, Ole!" or "The 'Ol Memory." I'm losing it, I really am.