Photo credit: AP | U.S. Marine Lt. Jake Godby pays his respects to Lance Cpl. Joshua Bernard during a memorial service at a forward operating base with Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, in Now Zad in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. Bernard was mortally wounded during a Taliban ambush on Friday, Aug. 14. (2009)
I've been following a story about an AP Story that makes me want to vomit. An embed photographer in Afghanistan took a photo of a young Marine just after he'd been struck by a grenade in an ambush. I have not looked at the photo, but my understanding is he had a severed leg & his fellow Marines are attending to him. Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard of New Portland, Maine, later died at the hospital during the surgery to repair his wounds. When it was discovered the AP had a photo of what would be the final moments of this Marine's life, the family & Secretary of Defense Gates asked the AP not to run it. His father specifically asked the AP to not publish this photo of the final moments of their son's life.
The AP ran it anyway, defending their actions: "‘AP journalists document world events every day. Afghanistan is no exception. We feel it is our journalistic duty to show the reality of the war there, however unpleasant and brutal that sometimes is,’ said Santiago Lyon, the director of photography for AP."
I was absolutely disgusted when I started following this story. I'm so tired of the typical defense of the journalists who claim it's their journalistic responsibility to report "on the realities of war." That's not true at all; journalists report on what they see fit and embellish their stories with personal opinion. They are not objective in any way, shape or form. No one will ever convince me the publication of this tragic photo wasn't about getting the scoop or making money. And the political left, so abhorrent of our great American corporations making lots of money, advocates the printing of this photo in all its "gritty" realism. Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard was not wounded; he died due to his wounds. The photo was published with the AP's full knowledge this Marine was deceased. The AP knew this photo was a photo of someone dying, yet they published it anyway.
This type of invasion of privacy is something I think about quite a bit. It's something all military families have to think about; there are numerous people and organizations who want to exploit our very lives to further their own purposes. I want to be clear; if Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard had survived, I would not have much to say on the subject. If Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard, it wouldn't have invaded his family's privacy nearly as much as it does now. No one, not even the press, should be allowed to publicize and exploit grief in such a way. We've seen it over and over again; Cindy Sheehan is the consummate example of a mother, just trying to find meaning in her son's death and being totally taken advantage of.
The press invades our lives, takes photographs and reports on our most private, grief-filled moments. Our funerals are invaded by protestors (who are not even protesting the war, by the way), our families watch normal Americans live their day-to-day lives while we pray we don't have uniformed visitors arrive at our front doors. These parties (the press, protestors, etc) have their rights protected under the law. Law enforcement and the courts ensure these parties can invade our privacy...but who ensures our privacy? Who stands up for us?
As military families, I think we need to stand up for ourselves. I put this out into "the internets" as fair warning to the AP or anyone else who would invade my privacy in the future: I will find the dirtiest lawyer I can & sue you for every dollar you have. I understand things the way others might not. If you invade my privacy, print photos of my husband, or anything else like that...if we pay the ultimate price & you invade my life at my moment of weakness, I'm coming for you where it will hurt you the most: your wallet.
And I will win. I always do.