26 February 2009

The Butter-Cutter On Photographing Service Members' Coffins

Entering the virtual Mess Hall, I was consumed by the trepidation generated by the highly emotional subject I planned on broaching with The Butter-Cutter. It was not long before my fears were confirmed.

“Waddaya mean people wanna take 'n' publish pictures o' coffins comin' back from Iraq 'n' Afghanistan?” he asked while glaring back at me.

I explained that, “In 1991, President Bush banned the media from taking photographs of the flag-draped coffins of American warriors being off-loaded at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. At the behest of the media, President Obama has ordered a review of that policy.” (1)

"Them media maggots! Why the f*** do they gotta take pictures o' them coffins?” he demanded as he threw his fork into the bowl of ice water in front of him.

“The media, feels that they have a duty to keep the public informed and publishing those photos will help them fulfill that responsibility,” I explained 

“Oh, my achin' ass! Ya mean ta tell me them media maggots think they ain't bein' told the whole story on the casualties we been takin' . . . like numbers o' KIAs 'n' WIAs 'n' the names o' the casualties?” he responded.

"No, not at all. I don't know of anyone suggesting that they are not being accurately told of our casualties,” I answered The Butter-Cutter.

“Yeah, 'n' wadda they do with it? They splash it all over the place--like a special feature when the dead got ta 4,000 . . . 'n' at 1,000, er 2,000, er 3,000 either the Washington Post er The New York Times published the pictures o' all the guys killed over there up ta that time,” he rambled on while shaking his head back and forth. (2) 

“Yes, I remember that. “Yes, I remember that. Never the less, the media believes that pictures of the coffins will help tell the story. In fact, The National Press Photographers Association has written a letter to President Obama saying that the ban 'violates the very principles of free speech and free exchange of ideas for which these very heroes have died.' " I argued further. (3)

“Pictures of coffins will help tell the story? Oh, YEAH! 'n'' did them photographer maggots say that takin' them pictures will give them more pictures ta SELL 'N” THEY'LL MAKE MORE MONEY OFF THEM COFFINS?” he countered.

"Well, I didn't hear them say that . . . "

"YA BET YER SWEET ASS YA DIDN'T HEAR THAT CUZ THEY AIN'T ABOUT TA SAY IT! But, there ain't no freakin' doubt in this here Snuffy's brain-housin' group that that's exactly what they're thinkin'. I got a question fer ya. These guys wanna tell the public all about our warriors? Well, why don't they publish pictures o' them takin' a shit, er pukin', er pickin' their nose? Don't the public got a right ta know that too?” he shot back at me.

“Don't be ridicules! The media recognizes that soldiers, sailors, and Marines have a right to privacy. Those . . . "

“There ya go!" The Butter-Cutter interjected. “The right ta privacy! That ain't it. Them media maggots don't think they can make money with them pictures, that's why they don't take 'em. I'll . . . “

I cut him off to say, “You shouldn't call them 'media maggots' just because you don't agree with them. That is such a demeaning name.”

“They're maggots cuz, like their slitherin' namesake maggots, they wanna feed on the dead. Now, let me ask ya somethin. Durin' funerals at Arlington Cemetery, the family has ta OK the takin' o' pictures 'n' the media maggots ain't bitched about that. So, why don't the government do that. When them guys come inta Dover, ask the families if it's OK fer the pictures?” he asked.

“Well that would probably be a little complicated. Since, there are frequently a number of coffins on the same plane, it would require the permission of all the families represented to get clearance for the photos. Anyhow, the arrival of the remains is quite impersonal since they are all contained in identical flag-draped coffins. The photos then would reveal only coffins indistinguishable from each other. So, in reality, I don't see what the fuss is all about,” I said.

“ASK THE MONEY GRUBBIN' MEDIA MAGGOTS 'WHAT THE FUSS IS ALL ABOUT? IT'S THEM MAKIN' THE FUSS! On second thought, don't ask 'em, cuz they'll LIE; but I'll tell ya. Tied up with makin' money, this is about brain washin' the American people. By showin' pictures o' coffins day in 'n' day out, the public, in time, says, 'STOP! THIS WAR”S COSTIN' TOO MUCH!' That's what the freakin' anti-war media maggots hope will happen by publishin' pictures o' them coffins!” The Butter-Cutter shot back at me.

“There you go, over dramatizing things again. The media has a professional, if not Constitutional, obligation to keep the public informed and, if you agree or not, that's why they have raised this issue,” I corrected him.

“BULL SHIT! If they really felt . . . believed they had an obligation ta keep the people informed, they would be publishin' pictures o' the terrorists our guys have killed! But, they ain't! They don't give a shit about givin' the people a balanced report showin' BOTH Good Guy 'n' Bad Guy casualties. They only want ta show the dead Good Guys so they can make people think it's a hopeless cause 'n' then we'll cut 'n' run. Yer right! I shouldn't call 'em media maggots: they don't feed off the opposition's dead. They only feed off their own kind--their dead American brothers and sisters. That makes 'em, 'homo-maggots.' Ya got that? FREAKIN' MEDIA HOMO-MAGGOTS!” 

Semper Fidelis,

Anthony F. Milavic

Major USMC (Ret.)

(1) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/22/us/22caskets.html?partner=rss&emc=rss 

(2) http://www.thebutter-cutter.com/4_000-Casualties_Figure.html  

(3) http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/feb/18/keep-photo-op-ban-on-caskets-vets-say/


On 26 February 2009, The Secretary of Defense announced that the media would be permitted to photograph the flag-draped coffins of returning American Service Members with the permission of their families.

 Waddaya think?

Mike said:   February 26th, 2009 6:57 am

I appreciate these are great! I made the horrible mistake of flipping through some channels and seeing that numbnuts Bill Maher this morning. What a condescending, unfunny blowhard! I could only watch his wretch for about 2 minutes, but he stated that Bush went to war because God told him, and to paraphrase- Obama is a "great thinker". But anyway, these emails do pick up my spirits. Now I'm off to battle in Mt. Vernon, teaching a knee-jerk liberal community surrounded by a bunch of knee-jerk jerks running the teacher's union.

Chief said:   February 26th, 2009 10:59 am

The Butter Cutter is right again. If the intent of the photo ops folks was to honor our comrades it would be one thing, but that is not their intent.

Bert said:   February 26th, 2009 11:59 am

Right on again, butter cutter. Everyone who has been in combat is anti-war. The difference between us and the media maggots is we respect the need to minimize the reasons wars start in the first place, and we respect our comrades who die when wars start anyway.

Maddy said:   February 26th, 2009 2:28 pm

 Not quite sure how I feel about this one Butter Cutter . Granted the media does go where it's not wanted & invades privacy . Then again if it weren't for some of them How would we know what is going on . our Military does deserve every bit of HONOR & PRIVACY . In the same token We the people need to know what is going on . Sometimes it is good to share your GRIEVE

Robert Osborne said:   February 27th, 2009 7:35 am

If I heard the news right I think Secretary Gates possibly made the right decision by saying they had to get permission of the families. It is thier privacy.

Bruce said:   February 27th, 2009 8:01 am

Am I reading this right, TBC and the SECDEF think alike?

Roger R. said:   February 27th, 2009 10:31 am

In the words of the butter cutter, BULL SHIT. Think about it, when are the families ASKED for their permission and how long does it take for that permission to get back to the powers to be? Don't forget, the shipmment of these remains is an EXPEDITE shipment and the aircraft are on the ground at Dover for only MINUTES. It just doesn't compute and I'm sure the SECDEF knew it! BULL SHIT!

ButterCutter6 said:   February 27th, 2009 11:09 am

I think Roger R has nailed it. With this decision, there will be a minimum of Photo Ops due to the length of time necessary to get ALL the families to agree when there are multiple remains in the flight to Dover. In those cases, the media will be hard-pressed to criticize the families of the deceased. The families' privacy is respected and the media is snookered. As Bruce observed, I too believe TBC and the SECDEF think alike!

Sully said:   February 27th, 2009 4:37 pm

From the first KIA who was returned from Iraq/Afghanistan, had I been POTUS, I'd have been there to salute them, and speak a few words of both praise for their sacrifice, and condolence for those left behind. I'd have made it optional for the next-of-kin to attend, but should they have chosen to do so spoke to them individually for a few moments. POTUS would repeat this ceremony no less than once per year, with various persons of Cabinet rank substituting for POTUS each month. Unless the next of kin desired, no identification of the remains would be released. Under Bush it always seemed to me that our casualties were, in one sense, hidden away and not acknowledged. Most of us know that there are costs due to war one heck of a lot more important that the dollars it takes to provide the materials with which our Troopers make war with. The public needs to be reminded of that cost in other ways than "numbers." 

RED DOG said:   March 2nd, 2009 9:12 am

I'm a little late here but after reading some of the responses I had to respond... President Bush went to war because he had to and obama will ruin the USA as we know it...The remark that everyone who has been in combat is anti-war, is incorrect. I have been in combat and I have bleed at the hands of the enemy but I would do it all over again to keep our country safe and as we know it. War is necessary!...There are no names on the flag draped coffins coming home and if you die in a combat zone what better way to come home than covered in the flag you died for. Take the pictures and show them around the world, show our HEROES COMING HOME WITH THE RESPECT AND GRATITUDE OF THE USA... America is becoming a follower and not the leader we once were. Seeing a simple picture of a "flag draped coffin" of one of our HEROES that paid the ultimate price for me, means more than the thousands of dollars, long parade of cop cars, motorcycles, marching cops in uniforms, bagpipes playing, following a lavish horse drawn carriage, all broadcast on TV for the world to see, of a cop that died while on duty doing his higher priced and not as dangerous job.I will remain SEMPER FI to the HERO in the coffin wrapped in the American Flag. RED DOG 

Harry Todd said:   March 2nd, 2009 11:23 am

I have always been opposed to the photographing of the honored dead. Not because of the privacy issue but because of the liberal press exploitation of the pictures. The so called freedom of press has absolutely no respect for the feelings of the families and will show and use the photos to further shape a world they know nothing about. Sure it is a wonderful thing to receive permission but what happens should two of the five families involved in the transportation of their dead refuse? Do the media take pictures or not? Do the the media know which two coffins contain the remains of the two whose family refused? They best not since the families don't know who is who if there is more than one coffin being transported until the base receiving facility assigns the remains to its proper destination. This permision is nothing at all like the Arlington permission. There everyone knows who is involved here when multiples are transported it is anonymous until a determination by the morgue is made regards identity. I hope to see one massive lawsuit should this scenerio play out. Maybe then the media will finally get the idea that there are some things that remain sacred.