I saw this powerful adaptation of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Ozymandias on DailyKos yesterday. Today someone else was so moved by it, they turned it into a slideshow and posted it on YouTube.

People have notoriously short political memories and if it does not affect them they forget about it.

Showing an image becomes a political act when someone else doesn’t want you to see that image. Should we show pictures of the flag draped coffins of our fallen soldiers returning home? Both sides know that images such as those have power. One could show them, say yes war is brutal, and we must not forget those who make the ultimate sacrifice for us. One could show them, and say say our soldiers are dying for oil. It matters not to the dead how they got that way or why the pictures are shown. Does context matter?

No. Free speech is guaranteed by the US Constitution. It makes no judgment on why an image is shown, only that we can. If the military disallows the taking of such images for security reasons, that is understandable. Not having the enemy know how many of our soldiers killed is a valid reason. If the politicians don’t allow it for political reasons then support for a war isn’t that strong and may not be justifiable.

It is not a black & white issue. Pictures are powerful. Words are powerful. We live in a relatively free country. The only way to keep it that way is for us to know the real reasons what our soldiers are dying for and not to flinch from showing the fallen. Because if the cause is just we will mourn them and honor their memories. If it is not, our anger should not be contained.