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News cataloging, Part Deux

By Brian | May 20, 2005 | Share on Facebook

OK, so they’ve got pictures of Saddam Hussein in his underwear. Here’s what his lawyer said:

“In our opinion this is a violation of all international agreements and human dignity, therefore we must sue the people responsible and the providers of these pictures, because if you look closely you can see that they were taken from his prison cell,” lawyer Ziad Khasawneh of Saddam’s defense team said.

“This is considered as another Abu Ghraib and we will take the necessary legal actions which we have already started,” he told Reuters in Amman.

Fine. Sue ‘em. I hope he wins. Whoever published these pictures was being infantile and gets what he deserves. But this was no Abu Ghraib.

Yes, publicly displaying pictures of him in his underwear is embarrasing. But it’s junior high-school embarassing. He wasn’t being humiliated by his captors like the Abu Ghraib detainees were. In fact, he wasn’t being mistreated at all. What was awful about Abu Ghraib was what they were doing, not the fact that they photographed it.

Nonetheless, Mr. Khasawneh knows that this will only be an amusing side-story unless he can get it lumped into the “America Absuses Prisoners” meme, so it gets repeated over & over again by those who wish us harm.

Topics: News and/or Media | 4 Comments »

4 Responses to “News cataloging, Part Deux”

  1. Jeff Porten says at May 26th, 2005 at 12:39 am :
    Of course, some might say that this is exactly what is dangerous to us as a nation about having created this meme in the first place.

  2. Brian says at May 26th, 2005 at 1:47 pm :
    True, although I would split “us as a nation” into two parts – the soldiers at Abu Ghraib who committed these acts and the news media that took a legitimate news story and created a “meme” for folks like Hussein’s lawyer.

  3. Jeff Porten says at May 27th, 2005 at 1:56 pm :
    Thanks for the lower jaw exercise, Brian. That was the sound of one jaw dropping. Are you suggesting that the media should NOT have reported Abu Ghraib because it makes us look bad?

    The media didn’t create the “America tortures prisoners” meme. There are stories about bad stuff we do floating around all the time, many of them true, but they don’t become memes because the story has to fit the preconceived notion of what is true. This one became a meme because it was big enough, huge enough, well-documented enough, and showed no sense of shame from the people involved or their commanders (who just blamed the people), that it created it’s own preconceived notion of “the US tortures, then it covers it up”. Which has legs because that’s precisely what other torturing governments do, and people can smell a pattern.

    You gotta stop thinking of the New York Times as the be-all, end-all of world media. Folks at good papers here read the good papers from Over There, and that goes into reporting the news.

  4. Brian says at May 30th, 2005 at 10:42 pm :
    Jeff – we need to get you something for jaw support. No, I’m not suggesting the media shouldn’t have reported Abu Ghraib. In fact, I went to great pains to avoid saying anything close to that.

    But c’mon – the media didn’t create the meme? The story “created it’s own preconceived notion?” What are we talking about here, magic?

    You may look at Abu Ghraib and see it as part of a pattern involving other torturing governments – I can’t say it’s an inconceivable thought. But look at the stories that have been linked to it – a picture of Saddam in his skivvis while changing clothes? Alleged mishandling of a holy book during questioning? Are these also the acts of other torturing governments? I think not. These are cheap sideshows that are are lent legitimacy by a reporter who gets to write “America has been accused of mistreating prisoners before, as in the Abu Ghraib case” at the end of his story, which then gets it picked up by the major news outlets, the blogs, etc.

    THAT was my original point.

    And as for the New York Times being the be-all, end-all of media – please… Would I be reading/writing blogs if I believed that?


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