Thursday, June 08, 2006


http://www.kwhitaker.com/mission_accomplished.jpg
George W Bush – “Mission Accomplished” May 2003

The public of Australia are not seeing the grotesque images of the war against Iraq for several stated, possibly legitimate, reasons that relate to war and to other disasters. One of these is that we are culturally conditioned to put the grotesque beyond view, the so-called 'bad-taste' argument – which does have exceptions. The most compelling reason for this is, as George Esper said, and as I argue, that, these images may persuade us that war is an unconscionable and unacceptable barbarity - a form of pornography. These images may either outrage us or desensitise us, depending on our empathy with ‘other’ inhabitants of the world. The images in the television news stories, though ‘filtered, have been shown to have associations with psychological disturbance in children. (Grossman & DeGaetano: 1999)

Arguments can also be raised as to whether the most grotesque of these images could evoke a voyeuristic response when focussing our gaze on the most confronting images of human carnage. It is possible that some people would gain some kind of vicarious pleasure by looking at images of the ‘other’ people, for whom this disrespect transforms into a deeper contempt, and perhaps satisfaction – “we showed ‘em”. Displaying images like these does contravene Geneva Conventions by demonstrating an absence of respect for opponents in a conflict. (ICRC: 2006; Gutman & Rieff: 1999) The infant victims of Depleted Uranium and their parents have waited too long, following World Health Organisation (WHO) suppression of reports on their plight. Depleted Uranium (DU) babies probably need our immediate attention, in lieu of a protracted debate on ‘bad taste’. (Baverstock & Mothersill: 2003)
There is a distinctly moral agenda demonstrated when people like journalist, Robert Fisk (four references) or JB Russell, reveal the ‘hideous’ harm the war is doing, or when the Iraqi doctors, through Al Jazeera’s Shaheen Chugati try to show us the teratogenic effects of DU munitions on babies.

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