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May 18, 2006

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Agnes Varnum

Well said AJ. You've nicely articulated an argument that has been roiling around in my head since I read the following in the May 14 NYT, "Senior Army officials have scaled back their planned participation in an advance screening of a documentary about an Army Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad out of concern that its grim medical scenes could demoralize soldiers and their families and negatively affect public opinion about the war, Army officials said Friday."

Ya' think people might be against the war if they saw what was happening? They are already having trouble recruiting and many soldiers are leaving at the first opportunity. Might that be a clue to reconsider? No, instead we hide what really goes on so the public will support it and the boys will keep signing up. So sad.

AJ Schnack

Additionally, the public can be made to feel that all they need to do in time of war is stick a "support our troops" ribbon on their car. There need be no sacrifice made. This is both unrealistic and unfair. If our cause is just then we can accept the horrors. Only when one fears that the cause is not honorable must one make the public feel that it is clean and without errors.

Adam Jeppson

I really appreciated your last comment there, AJ. It is always good to remember that if I believe in something, I believe in it all, not just the good stuff.

More generally speaking, however, sometimes "hiding" the horrors can be justified when those being shielded are not capable of digesting accurately the information being depicted. Also, we better make sure we are depicting accurately that which we are showing.

Back to what you were saying: in the case you were talking at (in your comment), I agree that we shouldn't be spared the horrors (or the good). Unfortunately, it is so difficult to portray something as complex as this war with unbias and completeness.

Thanks for the great post!

AJ Schnack

Hey Adam,

Thanks for the comment. I have to say though that I disagree that we need to shield people if they are not "capable of digesting accurately the information being depicted". I don't think that that is the role of government at all. While there are certainly things to keep secret for strategic or protective reasons (where we are placing our troops, when or where the president is traveling, etc.), issues related to both casualties and wrongdoings cannot be kept secret or minimized. If we are to determine that if some Americans may not understand, therefore we must keep everyone in the dark - that is, as far as I'm concerned, the end of our democracy.

We should most certainly be told when things are going well. But it's in no one's best interest to constantly be told that the situation is rosy, if in fact the situation is troubled or, worse, dire.

Thanks again for writing!

Adam Jeppson

I feel a little sheepish because I think my comment came out wrong. In respect to the war and such things that are national, state, community, etc. interest, you shouldn't really filter this stuff out because you're right, everyone has that right to know.

I was actually talking more generally in regards to what the original article hinted at, the protecting of children. I really believe that children should be shielded from certain things at certain times (or at least be filtered). Obviously that is up to parents, which is where the regulation should lie mostly, not the government.

Adam Jeppson

One more thing, then I'll shut up. Thanks for the great doc Gigantic, very well done!

AJ Schnack

No, you don't have to shut up. I get what you mean about children and, yeah, I do think that there are considerations in that regard. They don't need to know all the world's troubles. But yeah, you're right about that being the responsibility of parents - a child could just as easily walk past a newspaper stand or a television while the news is on as look at a movie poster. And as noted in the Wash Post article, there are horror film posters that are more suggestive and frightening than the poster that they banned. That Silent Hill poster freaked me out.

Thanks for the kind words about Gigantic and feel free to speak up any time.

AJ

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