Images of War essay

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At present, the United States of America is involved in two wars (minus the airstrikes against Libya) and the country is loosing soldiers daily. In Afghanistan and Iraq to date, the US has lost more than six thousand soldiers. However, the American public rarely gets to see pictures of how the soldiers are dying or even their bodies being brought home. In a well-reasoned, developed and supported essay, argue why or why not the American public should be able to see pictures of how our American soldiers are dying in these two wars. The reason why the pictures never or rarely get to be published in the media outlets is because is because a number of question pertaining to the issue are still unanswered. Firstly, is the press just reluctant to publish graphic images from Afghanistan and Iraq? Secondly, do the media editors prefer the publishing of pictures that depict military might over those that show images of the war's human toll?

Thirdly, are there fears that publishing gory images would be thought to be critical of the war endeavours? In essay argues why the pictures of the dead soldiers should not be published. To start with, it could be argued that the media has not been shying away from the publishing of images from the battlefields. Many journalists have attested to this fact. In fact, the majority of picture that made it to the media sources in the past ended up being published even when attempts have been made to block it. The reason that Americans are not able to see images of how their soldiers are dying in these two wars can be explained by the argument that there are not many journalists on the battlefield to take photos. Thus the media majorly rely on images offered by the army.

The second reason that hypothetically explain why the American media does not publish images of dying soldiers is that the media editors prefer the publishing of pictures that depict military might over those that show images of the war's human toll. This is not correct for the reason that it is known that the media like pulling out the dirt on the government and to protest to attain higher public rating. Depicting a war as a lost cause would be an advantage to the media. In short, the media would rather publish images of loosing military than a mighty one to gain higher public ratings. As such, the second question does not offer a plausible explanation to why the media shy away from publishing images of dying American soldiers. The third hypothesis from the third question is that there are fears that publishing gory images would be thought to be critical of the war endeavours. That too is not plausible considering that the media would not have any qualms with being critical of the war endeavours.

Proponents of the opinion that images depicting dead soldiers should be published argue that reality is nasty, and the public should be ready to see it as it is. They also argue that the public should see the real cost of the wars. They argue that it is respectful to the fallen soldiers as not showing them in pain and death would be tantamount to ignoring them. They argue that the duty of the media is to inform and so publishing these images is part of the media duty. Some of the arguments for the publishing are out rightly fallacious. The argument that publishing those images is just a duty of the media conveniently ignores the fact that the media also fails to perform their duty if what they publish is repulsive and disgusting to the audience. Just like images of the dead or fatally wounded people from accidents are not supposed to be published so are images of the fatally wounded and dead soldiers.

The argument that showing dead or dying soldiers' images is respectful cannot be far from the truth. If the American media were interested in honouring our soldiers as heroes, they would do so when the soldiers are alive. We do not see the media airing the interviews of soldiers to learn about the sacrifices they make in the line of duty. Waiting until someone dies to air his or her problems is both disrespectful and out of order. The argument that reality is nasty and the public should be ready to see it as it is and that the images depict the true cost of the wars appear to be sensible until one thinks about the family of the dead soldier. This is the major reason why the pictures of the dying and dead soldiers should not be published.

Fundamentally, images of injured or killed soldiers ought not to be published in the media for the seemingly simple reason that it is disrespectful to them and their mourning relatives. No one needs to attract public pity in his or her grief, casket or grave. Americans should already be aware of the risks and horrors soldiers have to deal in war times from the earlier wars records like the World Wars and other wars. They should also honour the soldiers in their life times. No one would like to open a year-old newspaper only to find the images of their departed loved ones moments before they died. This will just bring back the grief. The media should just report the number of war casualties, and that will solve the worries of those who argue for the publishing of the gory images.

The second reason why the images should not be published since it could have the undesirable effect on the soldiers who are at war. As the Taliban sees the images, they will be celebrating their heroic acts. At the same time, our soldiers and the family of the departed or injured soldier will be lamenting the loss. As the Taliban 'dance' over the picture it will give them more morale and the American soldiers, after seeing the picture, will be dealt a psychological blow. It is not as if the media want the soldiers to lose the war (which means more casualties) even when we all are against its waging.
There is no point of trying to show images of dead soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq or elsewhere since the public is already away of what a war is all about. The media should be sensitive to the relatives of the dead (Sabine, 2007) heroes and the public who are do not want to confirm the death of a soldier through showing them pictures of dead soldiers leave alone the circumstances of their death.

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