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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

double standards « Previous | |Next »
February 17, 2006

A new gallery of images of the systemic and widespread abuse of detainees by American soldiers in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison in 2003 has been published by the Dateline, the current affairs programme at SBS.

The gallery includes pictures of bleeding and hooded prisoners bound to beds and doors, of naked men handcuffed together or in a pile, of corpses, of dogs snarling at the faces of prisoners, of cigarette burns on buttocks and wounds from shotgun pellets, and of even more graphic sexual torture.


The Bush administration has fought hard to prevent these images from being published. Gee. I thought the conservatives were running hard on the right to freedom of expression on the grounds that it was indispensable for the survival of Western civilization in the war on terror.

There's the hypocrisy: freedom of expression is deemed okay for offensive anti--Muslim imagery (eg., the free speech versus intolerant Muslim fanatics re the Danish cartoons); but it needs to be put into cold storage when it comes to images of war crimes commited in the name of bringing democracy and freedom to Iraq.


So why freedom for expression for one and not for the other? What's the criteria for deciding what to do?

The Washington Post has a go at answering these questions.

Another answer:


Matt Davies

The gap between rhetoric and reality discloses the counter-enlightenment.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:35 AM | | Comments (1)


Gary, Approaching this issue from another angle, I think most Americans are indifferent to this issue. Many would also not be bothered by the practise of torture appearing to be systemic. Private polling by the Democrats prior to the 2004 presidential election revealed that over 70% of Americans were in favour of torture – it never became an election issue. Americans aren’t fighting a guerrilla war against ordinary Iraqis, they’re fighting terrorists. The ends justify the means. It must be said in the US atleast, with the aid of the right wing media the neocons have won the propaganda war. After 35 years of prosecuting the war on drugs, the US is prosecuting another phony war, the war on terror.
There are many good things that can be said about Americans, however it’s the bad attributes that stand out today. Their inward-looking, go it alone, non-consensus attitude to the rest of the world. For the past 50 years they have been led to believe that their country is the leading edge of civilisation. They tend to live a harsher, more adversarial culture than other westerners.