Blame the military, not the media

In wake of new Afghanistan corpse photo scandal, be sure to put responsibility where it belongs

Abu-Ghraib-Prison-Photos-1000One of the infamous Abu Ghraib prison photos from Iraq in 2004.

21 April 2012

After Abu Ghraib and a steady drip of other outrages, the latest photo scandal with U.S. troops is upon us: A soldier gave the L.A. Times photos of troops with Taliban corpses and body parts, and the newspaper published them — despite direct pleas from the Defense Department that doing so would do more harm than good.

As someone who hears a lot of chatter in the military, I’ve caught wind of lots of complaints essentially trying to blame the media for their decision, and for whatever fallout results.

I’ve spent about three years with combat troops at war and care deeply about them. But let’s be clear. The reality is that in most cases, the bad deeds are done by service members, and captured on camera by their buddies.

Then they distribute the images, often via social media like YouTube, or directly to media such as the Los Angeles Times.

There is no chicken-egg argument here.

The military chicken pops out a bad egg, then hatches that egg and parades the little monster to the press, who then says, “Look at the monster that the military hatched!”

And then we say, “Bad, bad media for creating a monster!”

Incorrect. The media didn’t make the monster. The media just made the monster famous.

Let’s look at three cases:

Abu Ghraib:

1. Military did the deeds

2. Military made the images

3. Military released the images

4. Media made them famous

Marines urinating on Taliban:

1. Military did the deeds

2. Military made the images

3. Military released the images

4. Media made them famous

Soldiers posing with dead Taliban:

1. Military did the deeds

2. Military made the images

3. Military released the images

4. Media made them famous

This is not complicated. We need not deflect responsibility from where it belongs. Our soldiers are grown men and women and should be accountable for their actions.

Whining about media overreach is starting to claw on peoples’ ears. People may not say that they are sick of it because they prefer not to say something “anti-military.” But it’s becoming pretty damn clear who is causing these monsters to hatch. It’s the military.

Here’s the solution:

1. Don’t do the deed.

2. Nothing follows.

Comments

 
+12 # RE: Blame the military, not the mediaMitch 2012-04-21 14:43
Michael, I offer one correction to your analysis, with all due respect. None of the above mentioned incidents were caused or perpetuated by the military. They were caused and photographed by active duty military members. A fine point to contend over to be sure but a real distinction none the less. The military may have tried to cover up as it is prone to do but only in the name of keeping the incidents from turning into a firestorm. They did not shirk their duties in ignoring the incidents. I view the military as an organization, whereas the individuals within are members of that organization. Their actions while reprehensible do not reflect upon the practices and policies of the organization as a whole.

Thus military members did the deeds, military members made the images, and military members made the images public. The military as an organization was left with the task of bringing them to account for their actions under the military justice system for clear violations of conduct. In some cases, those investigations were ongoing even as the stories hit the press.

You have always supported our troops, and have been careful to tell the truth even when it hurt. I respect you for that, and will continue to to do so. Perhaps I am nit picking here, but I do wish to draw a distinction between those soldiers and the institution as a whole which those individuals so badly misrepresented.

Best wishes.
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-2 # RE: RE: Blame the military, not the mediaDang 2012-04-22 21:00
ABSOLUTELY CORRECT!
Two wrongs don't make it "OK" - Freedom of the press and Freedom of Speech often get confused with the right to do things simply because "I have that right." - NOT, what would be the best thing to do.
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# US NAVY CPO RET.gene hauberMRm 2012-04-24 18:45
Our handwringing, just like our C-IN-C's apologies and , of course we must remember our suicidal ROE"s. All of this non-sense is killing our kids.
The laws of war allow us to wage very, let's say, unlimited war against enemy forces. If they choose to hide behind skirts or mosque walls, or in populated neighborhoods then the blood is all on their hands ONLY!!.
We can take out a building downtown without destroying the whole block. The acceptable collateral damage will be very limited to the enemies firing position.
ALL OF THE COLLATERAL DAMAGE IS ON THEIR COWARDLY HANDS!
IF ENEMY FIRE COMES FROM AN APARTMENT HOUSE, A SCHOOL, A HOSPITAL OR A MOSQUE....CALL IN AN AIR STRIKE OR ARTY ON IT. MAYBE THE LOCAL POPULACE , IF THEY ARE INNOCENT, WILL GET TIRED OF THE SCUM ENDANGERING THEIR LIVES.
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# RE: US NAVY CPO RET.Elaine 2012-05-02 03:14
I am a civilian, obviously. People do NOT understand what OUR Military goes through everyday!
This isn't the first time civilians have squealed and stand their wringing their hands. Women in Viet Nam posed as being pregnant while blowing our men up!
THIS PC Crap has to stop!
Our people go to the Middle East to "fight FOR them"... then have to be told not to Pee pee towards Mecca. The women in the Military have to wear a damn bag on their heads when off base.
They want the "crosses" taken down from the building where OUR PEOPLE go in to feel peace and pray.
BRING THEM HOME...
Then when the squeal about needing OUR help... sign a document in front of camera(s)they WILL allow our Military fight TO WIN!
Otherwise, stfu and do it yourself!
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# US NAVY CPO RET.gene hauberMRm 2012-04-24 19:15
DITTOS ON ALL OF YOUR COMPLIMENTS TO MR. YON, I AGREE.
Now to the meat
.
ABU GRAIB......SO WHAT?
MARINES PISSING ON DEAD ENEMY.........S O WHAT?
POSING WITH DEAD ENEMY......SO WHAT?

IF...........the military has ANY objection to any of the above it should be and probably is nothing but a slap on the wrist for bad judgement.
ANYTHING ESLE WOULD BE WAY OVER THE TOP AND DEMORALIZING TO OUR TROOPS....THERE MIGHT BE SOME LIMITS TO BEHAVIOR, BUT NONE WERE REACHED HERE EXCEPT BY OUR LEADERS" LIKE TED KENNEDY AND HIS BUDDY REP. JOHN MURTHA FROM PA. DISGUSTING DRIVLE FROM THEM!
They led the PC attack/onslaugh t against our military, not the participants. They wanted to HURT the military and America in our enemy's eyes ONLY!!

THEY ARE NOT CRIMINAL ACTS, BUT ACTS OF PEOPLE NOT USING GOOD JUDGEMENT IN AN EMOTIONAL SITUATION.

LET'S GET REAL FOLKS.......... .........THE PEOPLE WE FIGHT OVER THERE ARE TRULY MONSTROUS SAVAGES, HEARTLESS AND SOULLESS. NOT OUR GUYS
FORTY YEARS OF POLITICAL CORRECTNESS OPPRESSING US HAS TAKEN ITS TOLL.
WE'RE THE GOOD GUYS AND IT SHOWS EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR.

MY MILITARY, RIGHT OR WRONG AND WE ARE SELDOM WRONG

IF OUR POLITICAL AND SOME OF OUR MILITARY LEADERS WERE ONLY NEAR AS PERFECT AS OUR TROOPS THIS WAR WOULD BE OVER AND OUR ENEMIES WOULD NOT TREAD ON US ANYMORE!!!
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# RE: RE: Blame the military, not the mediaElaine 2012-05-02 03:08
This is war...NOT an exercise. Asking "pretty please" won't get answers... a snarling dog will.
Blame the media.
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# Of Cannibals...Shenji 2012-04-21 15:30
I don't know if THOSE guys ever read this: Of Cannibals, Essays (by Michel de Montaigne).
To people who thought and believed he or she is on the civilized side, should read this again and again.
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+1 # Support Our U.S. TroopsHeath 2012-04-21 16:02
Well, it is true that sometimes young people do stupid things in wartime. I never understood the sex scandal of Abu Ghraib. I can understand enemy soldiers being tortured under a light bulb for valuable wartime information to save lives. I also support water boarding and the case of Marines urinating on tablian terrorists after a nasty firefight, I can understand that one. The other case of I think US Army shooting a dead terrorist that pretended to be dead and the Army bullet riddled the body of enemy Iraqi terrorists. I think some of the media bears some responsibility for how they support our US Troops. The politicians in Washington DC needs to support water boarding. I have no sympathy for Al Qaeda or the Tablian or Pakistan for harboring an international terrorist. Never forget Sept. 11th, 2001. Innocent people of all nationalities died in airplane murders.i refuse to call it an airplane accident. It was murder by airplanes. Plain & Simple. No political correction needed. Go kick the Al Qaeda & Tablian's butts and whoever needs their ass kicked. God Bless America.
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# RE: Blame the military, not the mediaRandall Hannaway 2012-04-21 16:19
Amen.
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+8 # True but..Billy 2012-04-21 16:30
It may not be the fault of the media that these scandals develop, but it is the responsibility of the media to put the stories in the correct context. Anytime one of these scandals develops the media airs an unballanced discussion with commentators from the left. If the full context was considered, the stories about the jihadists *beheading*, torturing (real torture.. not waterboarding and taking naked pictures), killing civilians en-masse, burning and mutilating corpses, etc. would get the same treatment instead of just a passing reference. Let's be real: urinating on an enemy corspe is maybe disrespectful, but what our enemies do is EVIL. The ends they are fighting for are also evil (subjegation of women and complete denial of individual rights via Sharia). The blame-America attitude of the media is the real crime here.
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+7 # Blame?P.B. Brockman 2012-04-21 16:37
You are correct in that if the deed is never done, it can't be blown up. At the very *least*, people, if you do something stupid...don't make a permanent record of it. For crying out loud...haven't you noticed that there are people (media, for one) that are just waiting to pounce on these things?
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+4 # Media MoronsTB 2012-04-21 17:59
The utmost perogative for modern media outlets is: "If bleeds it leads" another words, sensationalism rules!

If in the process the media can make the story even more sensational in order to get more "eyeballs" then they will go to any lengths these days to get one up on their competition :eek:

It does matter who gets hurt, who is embarrassed, or who is ruined socially and financially :eek:

We have a great sickness in our country and the world called Mega-Glomerate MainStream Media. Wherein decency, korrect thinking, and behavior is determined and proscribed by these MGMSM thugs :o

This kind of black journalism really took off under William Ranolph Hurst and has not diminished, if anything it has become a beast of insatible appetitie always looking for the next dead burning body or bodies :-x

That said Michael is right about the stupidity of the folks involved in these military scandals, asinie nincompoops all :sad:
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-1 # RE: Blame the military, not the mediaRich 2012-04-21 18:35
You said our soldiers are "grown men and women". If by that you mean they are mature adults, I must disagree. It appears those who have been responsible for the misdeeds that have brought the furor are less than mature. Grown? Only in physical terms.
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+1 # RE: Blame the military, not the mediaDeidre 2012-04-21 18:58
I'll take Michael's opinion for what it is...one man's educated, experienced viewing of what happens when discipline breaks down. However, I'm sitting in my nice home, just having ordered online new slip covers for my furniture, and my opinion really does not mean jack considering I've never been to war, never had to live with such incredible filth, degradation and certainly not having had to kill anyone. I always cut our military some slack. Yeah, the men and women (that's a hard one for me to stomach--a woman being involved in Abu Ghraib) committed indecencies and broke military code but they did not commit atrocities except in the case of the 17-kills pathetic excuse for a human being. We do know, however, from living each day with news coming at us from all sources, that the media is biased toward depicting our military in the worst possible manner. That on occasion a few members of that group of people who defend our nation mess up is a given. They should, of course, think of country first and not some stupid thrill of peeing on dead terrorists or making them wear women's panties on their heads. THAT is where our nation has failed THEM...failed the young men and women in their moral outlook, in their moral training, in their intense responsibilitie s toward the nation not to shame it or themselves by stupid acts. Go to any college campus, you will see disgusting moral lapses not thought possible under any circumstances 50 years ago. Wonder why those collegiate acts of near/real criminality and egregious moral lapses are not publicized on the front pages of our newspapers. AGENDA, ladies and gentlemen...and the knowledge that many of our media members support the immorality of our college elite. For me, I'll take the peeing on a dead murderer over mass hook-up parties run by drug-fueled psychotics any day. None of it should happen. Let's get some perspective here, though. But, most of all, let's bring our military home from these hellholes. They've done enough for our nation. Now it's time to do something for them. Bring them home.
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# RE: Blame the military, not the mediaFrank 2012-04-21 20:47
What did our Military do wrong?? Nothing as long as our enemy refuses to follow the Geneva Convention, beheads our American soldiers, bombs the USA,sets up terrorism groups in the USA and etc.. Ten years from now some of us will wonder what happened when bombs blow-up transit buses in this country and we now look and feel like Israel. The media likes to keep the shock and awe going for ratings. Think of it as another dummying down american reality show. Our brave US Military have done nothing wrong. Its War and may the best country win. If we can keep the news media and stupid politician out these wars would be over quicker. If our enemies knew we were ruthless they would think twice about messing with us. After Hiroshima did any country try to stepping out of line and threaten the USA?
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-1 # MrRyden 2012-04-21 23:31
The Soviet Union? Al Qaeda? Iran? North Korea? China? I'd say those countries (Ok, AQ isn't a country) have threatened the USA repeatedly after Hiroshima.

Maybe the war would be won a lot faster if the "stupid politicians" were kept out of it. The backside would be that those stupid people have been democratically elected, and have thus been entrusted with the job of doing the opposite of keeping out of wars. If they had kept out, things would have looked a lot like a military junta/dictators hip, because it's only there that the military is superior to politicians, which they would be if politians would be kept out of wars.
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+3 # RE: Blame the military, not the mediaCarolyn 2012-04-21 20:59
Michael,
You are right, of course, but there are two points I want to mention.One, the use of 'military' can mean the Defense Department leaked these photos, or one soldier.Given the attitude and policies of the Defense Department, Congress, Obama, it is not out of the question someone in one of these departments leaked them.Secondly,e ven if someone affiliated with the Military sends it to the Media, the editors and publishers still can use judgment as to whether, or not, to publish them.these days with high tech availabilities and capabilities one can only hope the media thoroughly checks how these photos were made and edited and photo-shopped.I n the end, it is plain stupid to take these photos in the first place.We no longer see what the enemy is doing, which is far, far worse.What is amazing is the silence the vets and active troops maintain about the true barbarism of our enemies. It is nothing the Western imagination could conceive of without being a witness, or having a trusted source. Thank you, for releasing this information.I always look forward to your reports.
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+5 # RE: Blame the military, not the mediaMatthew Lusk 2012-04-21 21:19
Photos like this have existed since cameras existed. Behavior like this has existed since war existed. War has existed since mankind existed.
A quick google image search will render hundreds of photos of American soldiers posing with dead enemies from every war we have fought. The Greatest Generation took more than their share of them.
Two aspects of trophy-kill images from war are new:
Their public availability, and our naieve belief that we are better than that. War is war is war is evil is horrible is obscene. We cannot ask our wonderful servicemen to wade into that reality and not become stained by it. We shouldn't condone or promote it, but we should expect it.
I think the more important question to ask is why are we at war in Afghanistan. What is the mission?
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+1 # RE: RE: Blame the military, not the mediaC Good 2012-04-22 01:02
[quote name="Matthew Lusk"]
Two aspects of trophy-kill images from war are new:
Their public availability, and our naieve belief that we are better than that. /quote]

Well said. I used to know a former Marine who'd served in Vietnam. One day he came up to me, wide-eyed & shaking -- he'd stopped by his house just in time to find some family members digging into an old box of photos they'd found buried in the back of his closet. He'd grabbed the box of photos and left the house without a word. As he put it, when you have a camera you start taking pictures of everything and you get so used to seeing stuff like that you take pictures of it too -- but he knew his family would never understand that, which is why he'd grabbed the box of photos and left his house without a word.

In "With the Old Breed" E.B. Sledge wrote about the WWII American soldiers in the Pacific looking for trophies after a battle and the difference between soldiers who took the prayer flags (can't remember if that is the right name for them) from inside the helmets of deceased Japanese soldiers and the soldiers who collected gold teeth from deceased Japanese soldiers. (He almost started collecting gold teeth himself, until a corpsman talked him out of it, and later in the book he said he was devoutly grateful to that corpsman.) If camera technology had been 30 years more advanced in that war, likely he would have been writing about stupid pictures taken by American soldiers too.

So, it *is* simplest to avoid doing the deed to start with. But if someone is going to be stupid, don't post a digital copy of the picture on a public or semi-public forum.

There are so many people who have gotten into trouble with friends, family, police, spouses, school, and employers because of dumb pictures that should never have been taken being posted in places they never should have been posted, it's amazing so much stuff still gets posted.
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-4 # Mr.Serge 2012-04-21 21:45
Here’s the solution:

Don’t commit crimes against humanity!!
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# RE: Mr.DonM 2012-05-02 05:20
I agree, if there were no Taliban suicide bombers of schools, then there would be no suicide bomber war criminals on which to urinate.

Those darned Taliban. They shouldn't commit crimes against humanity.

By contrast, all suicide bombers who target civilians should be rigorously pigged.
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+4 # RE: Blame the military, not the mediaVNAF 2012-04-21 23:15
All of this commotion for 'desecrating' the body of a suicide bomber? Is this really something that the Commander in Chief must weigh in on and insist that the 'perpetrators' will be 'prosecuted'?
Our hand wringing weakness over an inappropriate action of a few is disgusting!
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+1 # MrRyden 2012-04-21 23:36
I'd say it's rather appropriate considering how common Afghans react to "desecrating" (I agree with you on that, how can a body that's been blown to tiny pieces with plastic explosives be more desecrated?) dead bodies, as it hopefully stops some of them from strapping on a suicide vest or joining the Talibans. Also keep in mind that it generally viewed as a despicable thing to blow yourself up in those parts of the world by most people, so it's important that the Talibans can't diverte attention from the suicide bombings by pointing to what ISAF/NATO soldiers do.
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+4 # RE: Blame the military, not the mediakaren 2012-04-21 23:22
GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR WORK
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+1 # RE: Blame the military, not the mediarobin yates 2012-04-22 02:48
I have asked this question on several blogs, when these pictures are being taken where is the sergeant? The officer?Why does someone of a higher rank not say to these guys "Stop, think? "
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# RE: RE: Blame the military, not the mediaElaine 2012-05-02 03:17
Civilians find it difficult to understand the need for photo(s)... Throughout the history, the cavemen drew pictures on walls of caves;
during the days of Rome, they kept drawn art of battles won.
Sorry, folks...war is hell; and it LOOKS like hell.
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-1 # RE: Blame the military, not the mediaR Daneel 2012-04-22 03:09
Blaming 'The Military' instead of the soldier is like blaming the sin not the sinner.

Completely backwards. Sorry Michael. I am a long time supporter.

The pictures are two years old. Two years. Why trotted out now? That is the question that needs answering.

I have my own theories and they are not complementary to either the DoD nor the MSM nor The Regime.
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# MrRyden 2012-04-22 09:43
They probably came out now because one of the persons involved in playing around with severed body parts didn't like to carry the burden. Sending those pictures to the media would be my second choice (after sending them to the MP), but people are entitled to know what members of the military do in their name, though it would've sufficed with just the news story without the pictures.

What amazes me is that people keep doing this and taking pictures of it, despite being the age group in society most aware of how extremely easy it is to spread digital photographs around. Someone just borrowing you camera can easily distribute every single picture you've ever taken to thousands of people before you've even finished your lunch.
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# What a crock of crapSteve Tew 2012-04-22 04:36
The business of news used to be to inform. Then the business of news became entertainment. Now the business of news is to inflame and instigate. The LA Times editors trotted out two year old photos of some fellows showing off some gallows humor. The LA Times knew the photos would be inflammatory. The LA Times knew the behavior shown in the photos has been seen and addressed by command over the years. The LA Times knew that once the photos were made public the Administration would crawl on it's collective knees to appease the Enemy. The LA Times knew that the men in the photos would be pursued and investigated and punished by Obama, Panetta and the other purely political hacks that now run our military... I Blame The Media, and condemn that bastard Panetta.
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+1 # MrRyden 2012-04-22 17:29
If this would've been a conventional war, and our enemy would be, let's say Russia? Would you get pissed off at a Russian newspaper if they publicised pictures of Russian troops fooling around with the body parts of dead American soldiers, or would you be mad at the Russian soldiers in the photos?

Something tells me it isn't the Russian media you'd be pissed at...
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-3 # NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WARS WITHOUT ENDYoda 2012-04-22 17:00
Kudos Michael: Outstanding!

Our gret leader Nobel Peace Prize Winner President Obama will continue the wars without end.

Should he get a second term he will bring a communist revolution to a neighborhood near you.

[url link removed by webmaster]

Right on Michael - WRITE ON!

Respectfully, Yoda / US Air Force, US Army Veteran.
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# RE: NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WARS WITHOUT ENDElaine 2012-05-02 03:23
Unfortunately, you are 100% correct.
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-1 # Editor, War On Terror NewsMsMarti 2012-04-22 23:27
If the military was "wrong" in their actions [your words] and the newspaper is "wrong" [my words] it should be noted that two "wrongs" do not make it right.

Newspapers/magazines/online sites need to consider all aspects of the impact before publishing the news.

Knowingly publishing a story or photos that will put the lives of others [our military in this case] in danger should be reason enough to "not" publish said story or photo.

If said soldiers did something wrong that does not then give the media permission to also do something wrong!
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# One problem thereJohnG 2012-04-23 00:40
Well, nice to lead with the dogs - we were teaching soldiers and interrogators to utilize the phobias against the enemy to break them - in order to find out where the bombs were to save our guys (and of course find out where the bad guys are, so we can kill them). If somebody was afraid of bugs, we would have found a cockroach too. I had this conversation with Michael, he's one of those that think it's better to blow somebody's leg off with a .50 caliber than put panties on their heads). The dogs policy/using phobias was authorized for decades, and right up to the very top in OEF/OIF ... up until Abu Ghraib and the media used it to trash the Bush administration.

So the dog doesn't fit, it was national policy, not just bad soldiers being bad. But at least we can all feel better knowing that we quit agressive interrogation at the cost of 1000's of service members lives...always a tradeoff for feeling good about ourselves.
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+1 # MrRyden 2012-04-23 11:05
By "1000's" you, by definition mean at least 2000. So you're saying that around 1/3 of all KIAs sustained during OEF and OIF could've been prevented by, let's call it "agressive interrogation" as you say?
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# RE: Blame the military, not the mediaNani 2012-04-23 01:05
The media chooses what they'll report on & what they'll sit on. The media has decided that Zimmerman is guilty before his trial. The media decided that Romney was the only "electable" candidate early on & now we're stuck with the worst one out of the bunch, excluding Ron Paul. The media ignores Obama's disasterous policies, such as, the Gulf moratorium on drilling, blocking the Keystone Pipeline, Obamacare, Fast & Furious, downsizing the military, defunding NASA, massive new regulations on small businesses. It was totally stupid for our soldiers to take those pictures, leaving themselves wide open, but I stand by our soldiers, regardless. I'm tired of the media jumping on every opportunity to place our soldiers in a bad light. The lamestream media has a major influence on the thought process of, at least, half the population.
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+3 # RE: Blame the military, not the mediaDon F. 2012-04-23 21:23
Blaming the military for what a few soldiers do is like blaming all women because one is a whore or blaming all men because one is a pedophile. It simply is not in any government or military to do these sort of actions. Individuals are responsible for their own actions, whether they are in the military or civilians.
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-1 # RE: Blame the military, not the mediaHonza Prchal 2012-04-23 21:49
There is nothing wrong with what you say, but I feel i would be remiss if I didn't point out that in some of the fake Quran burning scandals and such, the military didn't do the deed and the media, failing in its job, reported it.
Also, as the North Vietnamese showed us when they decorated their officer at Time Magazine for photo selection to go with Time's articles on Vietnam, the choice of the image can be important. one can be honest without, as they say across the pond, "sexing it up". Criticising the media for that is anything but beyond the Pale.
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# RE: Blame the military, not the mediaBrian 2012-04-24 12:22
I never will understand how a living person can be ripped to shreads and the the Taliban /Media are okay with it. Yet once a person is dead the body is somehow some sacred item. Makes zero sense. Taking these pictures is nothing more significant than bad form, no crime.
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