Deeply Disturbing

 

Bill Ackman, who runs a private equity fund, put up a Memorial Day post at Twitter. It has an image of a woman stretched out on the ground over her husband’s grave at a military cemetery, with the words:

Let’s make sure to remember and honor the fallen on Monday. Many of us, myself included, enjoy the long weekend with our families without giving sufficient consideration to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can leave free. We owe them everything. Let’s never forget.

An entirely appropriate post for Memorial Day, wouldn’t you think?  But of the 270 comments to the post, a significant portion of them are worrying and depressing to read:

 

***Some of them are anti-Israel. (“Never forget these men died for Israel because American politicians are blackmailed by Epstein tapes,” for example.)

***Some are unable to comprehend that wars might be motivated by something other than the financial interests of corporations. (“Why exactly should I thank them for their service? I’m not an oil company.”)

***Some use the post to take a shot at Jews. (“Jews don’t serve in the American forces. They just send them to fight their wars”)

***Some claim that we don’t have any freedom, anyhow. (Vaccine mandates, social media censorship, etc.)

***Several make it about Trump. (“Makes no sense that you want to honor the fallen, those who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our representative Democracy yet support a man who came dangerously close to killing it”)

***Many clearly resent Ackman’s personal financial success (and I believe that an upsurge in bitterness and envy in a society is highly correlated with the growth of anti-Semitism in that society).

***At least one says that we should also remember the 13 ‘pro-Palestine’ students were barred from graduating for their involvement in campus protests, as if these ‘freedom fighters’ were analogous to those Americans killed in combat.

 

Now, not all of these people are Americans; but a high proportion of them appear to be.

The majority of comments to Ackman’s post are reasonable and appropriate, but there are a disturbing number along the lines sketched out above. 

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  1. Susan Quinn Member
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    There are just people who simply can’t pass up any opportunity to attack the U.S., even if it means desecrating the memories of those who fought to preserve this free country. Sad.

    • #1
  2. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    There are just people who simply can’t pass up any opportunity to attack the U.S.

    And there are also people who cannot pass up any opportunity to make everything about their personal obsessions.

    • #2
  3. She Member
    She
    @She

    I abhor the nature of the comments you’ve singled out.  However, I find the intimate nature of that photo, and its publication, disturbing in itself.  I hope the woman so pictured knew she was being photographed and what would be done with the photo. (There are other such photos that have been published over the years, and they always give me a bit of a jolt, and the same feeling.  If she didn’t know, then I think that’s an unforgivable intrusion.

    Oh.  Apparently the photo is from 2014, and the story is out there: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-us-military-widows-unauthorised-photos-twitter-jenn-budenz-cemetary-grave-a8147286.html

    TBC, I don’t know why the article has to make it all about Trump (except that it’s The Independent).  My objection is non-political and has to do with basic decency.

    • #3
  4. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    From the link quoted in #:

    San Diego Union-Tribune photographer Hayne Palmour IV took the photo of Jenn Budenz in 2014 at Miramar National Cemetery in San Diego, for a Memorial Day story about the long tail of grief felt by families of fallen service members.”

    I don’t mean to be cruel, but Mrs. Budenz allowed the San Diego Union-Tribune to use her image.  After an image is out in the world, she can have no expectation of control of its use.   There is no privacy in the internet age.

    • #4
  5. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    She (View Comment):

    I abhor the nature of the comments you’ve singled out. However, I find the intimate nature of that photo, and its publication, disturbing in itself. I hope the woman so pictured knew she was being photographed and what would be done with the photo. (There are other such photos that have been published over the years, and they always give me a bit of a jolt, and the same feeling. If she didn’t know, then I think that’s an unforgivable intrusion.

    Oh. Apparently the photo is from 2014, and the story is out there: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-us-military-widows-unauthorised-photos-twitter-jenn-budenz-cemetary-grave-a8147286.html

    TBC, I don’t know why the article has to make it all about Trump (except that it’s The Independent). My objection is non-political and has to do with basic decency.

    While I see the logic of the comment of @DoctorRobert I note I was about to use that very image and decided against it when I saw the article about widows objecting to the use of these photos. 
    Not to try to sound like I am virtue signaling but it does seem extremely invasive of these families’ grief. 

    • #5
  6. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):

    From the link quoted in #:

    San Diego Union-Tribune photographer Hayne Palmour IV took the photo of Jenn Budenz in 2014 at Miramar National Cemetery in San Diego, for a Memorial Day story about the long tail of grief felt by families of fallen service members.”

    I don’t mean to be cruel, but Mrs. Budenz allowed the San Diego Union-Tribune to use her image. After an image is out in the world, she can have no expectation of control of its use. There is no privacy in the internet age.

    With respect, how do we know she was asked for her permission considering the current state of “journalism ethics “?

    • #6
  7. She Member
    She
    @She

    Jim George (View Comment):

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):

    From the link quoted in #:

    San Diego Union-Tribune photographer Hayne Palmour IV took the photo of Jenn Budenz in 2014 at Miramar National Cemetery in San Diego, for a Memorial Day story about the long tail of grief felt by families of fallen service members.”

    I don’t mean to be cruel, but Mrs. Budenz allowed the San Diego Union-Tribune to use her image. After an image is out in the world, she can have no expectation of control of its use. There is no privacy in the internet age.

    With respect, how do we know she was asked for her permission considering the current state of “journalism ethics “?

    The article in the San Diego Union Tribune (from 2014) is here.  Clearly, Mrs. Budenz spoke to the newspaper.  Whether the photo came before or after she did is anyone’s guess.  My own guess is she thought the piece would be respectful, which it was, she gave the paper permission to use the photo, and she thought that that would be the end of the matter. In 2014.

    The photos appear to have some sort of attribution.  Perhaps it’s on the order of a copyright.  Odd that the newspaper hasn’t done anything about it then, but I expect it’s not worth their time or effort.

    Frankly, I think taking such photos of private citizens in moments of raw grief, removing them from their original context (as in this case, and if they were even authorized for any other use), and reworking them in what I consider to be such an emotionally manipulative manner says far less about Mrs. Budenz’s behavior than it does the behavior of others.  (We’ve had a few conversations about this here, before, IIRC.)  The fact that people “can” do a thing doesn’t make it right, and doesn’t mean they should.

    For those whose mileage varies on that last, point, well, OK.

    • #7
  8. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    She (View Comment):

    Jim George (View Comment):

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):

    From the link quoted in #:

    San Diego Union-Tribune photographer Hayne Palmour IV took the photo of Jenn Budenz in 2014 at Miramar National Cemetery in San Diego, for a Memorial Day story about the long tail of grief felt by families of fallen service members.”

    I don’t mean to be cruel, but Mrs. Budenz allowed the San Diego Union-Tribune to use her image. After an image is out in the world, she can have no expectation of control of its use. There is no privacy in the internet age.

    With respect, how do we know she was asked for her permission considering the current state of “journalism ethics “?

    The article in the San Diego Union Tribune (from 2014) is here. Clearly, Mrs. Budenz spoke to the newspaper. Whether the photo came before or after she did is anyone’s guess. My own guess is she thought the piece would be respectful, which it was, she gave the paper permission to use the photo, and she thought that that would be the end of the matter. In 2014.

    The photos appear to have some sort of attribution. Perhaps it’s on the order of a copyright. Odd that the newspaper hasn’t done anything about it then, but I expect it’s not worth their time or effort.

    Frankly, I think taking such photos of private citizens in moments of raw grief, removing them from their original context (as in this case, and if they were even authorized for any other use), and reworking them in what I consider to be such an emotionally manipulative manner says far less about Mrs. Budenz’s behavior than it does the behavior of others. (We’ve had a few conversations about this here, before, IIRC.) The fact that people “can” do a thing doesn’t make it right, and doesn’t mean they should.

    For those whose mileage varies on that last, point, well, OK.

    FWIW, I’m not condoning intrusive or unauthorized use.  But it has to be expected.  If you wish to preserve your privacy, you have to preserve your privacy.

    • #8
  9. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    A good point about being careful with images of people in grief.  I had seen that image published previously, more than once, I think, and wouldn’t be surprised if Ackman had seen it as well.  Also, his use of the image wasn’t remotely political, unless one views any expression of traditional American patriotism as political.

    • #9
  10. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    David Foster (View Comment):

    A good point about being careful with images of people in grief. I had seen that image published previously, more than once, I think, and wouldn’t be surprised if Ackman had seen it as well. Also, his use of the image wasn’t remotely political, unless one views any expression of traditional American patriotism as political.

    I suppose it’s political now, since the Democrat Party/leadership no longer supports traditional American patriotism.

    • #10
  11. Pagodan Member
    Pagodan
    @MatthewBaylot

    Jim George (View Comment):

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):

    From the link quoted in #:

    San Diego Union-Tribune photographer Hayne Palmour IV took the photo of Jenn Budenz in 2014 at Miramar National Cemetery in San Diego, for a Memorial Day story about the long tail of grief felt by families of fallen service members.”

    I don’t mean to be cruel, but Mrs. Budenz allowed the San Diego Union-Tribune to use her image. After an image is out in the world, she can have no expectation of control of its use. There is no privacy in the internet age.

    With respect, how do we know she was asked for her permission considering the current state of “journalism ethics “?

    With respect, how do we know anything is real, and that reality isn’t an illusion or we aren’t really just characters in an AI simulation. 🤷🏻‍♂️

    • #11
  12. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Pagodan (View Comment):

    Jim George (View Comment):

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):

    From the link quoted in #:

    San Diego Union-Tribune photographer Hayne Palmour IV took the photo of Jenn Budenz in 2014 at Miramar National Cemetery in San Diego, for a Memorial Day story about the long tail of grief felt by families of fallen service members.”

    I don’t mean to be cruel, but Mrs. Budenz allowed the San Diego Union-Tribune to use her image. After an image is out in the world, she can have no expectation of control of its use. There is no privacy in the internet age.

    With respect, how do we know she was asked for her permission considering the current state of “journalism ethics “?

    With respect, how do we know anything is real, and that reality isn’t an illusion or we aren’t really just characters in an AI simulation. 🤷🏻‍♂️

     

     

    • #12
  13. She Member
    She
    @She

    David Foster (View Comment):

    A good point about being careful with images of people in grief. I had seen that image published previously, more than once, I think, and wouldn’t be surprised if Ackman had seen it as well. Also, his use of the image wasn’t remotely political, unless one views any expression of traditional American patriotism as political.

    I’m not doubting Ackman’s expression of, or appeal to, traditional American patriotism.  Not even going down the somewhat ungracious path of, “well, it took him long enough.”

    Welcome to the right side of history, Bill.

    But being “careful,” in such matters (to use your word), is exceptionally important, I think.  There are so many ways to express respect, thanks, and gratitude to those who served. I don’t know if we need to drag the families unknowingly into the mix. It’s all well and good, and perfectly understandable, to say in 2024, “if you like your privacy you should keep your privacy,” but such things really weren’t envisioned in 2011 or 2014, when private citizens spoke to the local papers, or were the subjects of short profiles on local television stations with no glimmer of what was to come.  Today, would the ladies concerned have done things differently?  I think they likely would have.  But this is now.  That was then.

    I think this photo was the first time such a one was one discussed on this site.  Slightly different story.  In this case, the reporter/photographer wandering through the cemetery came upon the woman and merely had a chat. Mary McHugh told photographer John Moore her story.  (This was in 2007, so even further back.)  Later, he recounts:

    [My daughter and I] continued our walk through the graves and, about a half hour later, we passed back and saw Mary lying on the grass and speaking into the marble, as if there was so much left to say. I didn’t expect to see her again but, as we had already spoken at some length, I felt comfortable taking a few pictures, while trying not to disturb her.

    And subsequently:

    The photograph was widely published at the time. l tried to get in touch with Mary, but she didn’t answer, and I respected that. She was still in mourning. I don’t know what has become of her. I hope she has had a good life. I’ve always been haunted by that scene.

    My opinion, FWIW: If he tried to get in touch with her, but she didn’t answer, perhaps that was a clue.  And perhaps his “respect” for her didn’t go far enough.  And perhaps his subsequent publication of the photograph–without her explicit permission–was a horrible intrusion into her private grief.

    That photograph lives on, Internet-wide.

    Not to Mary McHugh’s detriment, that’s for bloody sure.

    I’ll stop now, probably to the relief of many.  Carry on.

    • #13
  14. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    She (View Comment):

    Jim George (View Comment):

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):

    From the link quoted in #:

    San Diego Union-Tribune photographer Hayne Palmour IV took the photo of Jenn Budenz in 2014 at Miramar National Cemetery in San Diego, for a Memorial Day story about the long tail of grief felt by families of fallen service members.”

    I don’t mean to be cruel, but Mrs. Budenz allowed the San Diego Union-Tribune to use her image. After an image is out in the world, she can have no expectation of control of its use. There is no privacy in the internet age.

    With respect, how do we know she was asked for her permission considering the current state of “journalism ethics “?

    The article in the San Diego Union Tribune (from 2014) is here. Clearly, Mrs. Budenz spoke to the newspaper. Whether the photo came before or after she did is anyone’s guess. My own guess is she thought the piece would be respectful, which it was, she gave the paper permission to use the photo, and she thought that that would be the end of the matter. In 2014.

    The photos appear to have some sort of attribution. Perhaps it’s on the order of a copyright. Odd that the newspaper hasn’t done anything about it then, but I expect it’s not worth their time or effort.

    Frankly, I think taking such photos of private citizens in moments of raw grief, removing them from their original context (as in this case, and if they were even authorized for any other use), and reworking them in what I consider to be such an emotionally manipulative manner says far less about Mrs. Budenz’s behavior than it does the behavior of others. (We’ve had a few conversations about this here, before, IIRC.) The fact that people “can” do a thing doesn’t make it right, and doesn’t mean they should.

    For those whose mileage varies on that last, point, well, OK.

    I attended the Memorial Day Ceremony this morning at Barrancas National Cemetery on NAS Pensacola. To say that it was moving would be a vast understatement. There were many family members among the markers visiting the graves of their husbands, wives, Dads, Moms. Had I happened upon a Mrs Budenz and instead of leaving her to her grief took a picture of her, I would be, quite simply, a ghoul. But I’m sure I am so far from that photographer’s generation and mindset I may as well be from another planet. 

    • #14
  15. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    She (View Comment):

    David Foster (View Comment):

    A good point about being careful with images of people in grief. I had seen that image published previously, more than once, I think, and wouldn’t be surprised if Ackman had seen it as well. Also, his use of the image wasn’t remotely political, unless one views any expression of traditional American patriotism as political.

    I’m not doubting Ackman’s expression of, or appeal to, traditional American patriotism. Not even going down the somewhat ungracious path of, “well, it took him long enough.”

    Welcome to the right side of history, Bill.

    But being “careful,” in such matters (to use your word), is exceptionally important, I think. There are so many ways to express respect, thanks, and gratitude to those who served. I don’t know if we need to drag the families unknowingly into the mix. It’s all well and good, and perfectly understandable, to say in 2024, “if you like your privacy you should keep your privacy,” but such things really weren’t envisioned in 2011 or 2014, when private citizens spoke to the local papers, or were the subjects of short profiles on local television stations with no glimmer of what was to come. Today, would the ladies concerned have done things differently? I think they likely would have. But this is now. That was then.

    I think this photo was the first time such a one was one discussed on this site. Slightly different story. In this case, the reporter/photographer wandering through the cemetery came upon the woman and merely had a chat. Mary McHugh told photographer John Moore her story. (This was in 2007, so even further back.) Later, he recounts:

    [My daughter and I] continued our walk through the graves and, about a half hour later, we passed back and saw Mary lying on the grass and speaking into the marble, as if there was so much left to say. I didn’t expect to see her again but, as we had already spoken at some length, I felt comfortable taking a few pictures, while trying not to disturb her.

    And subsequently:

    The photograph was widely published at the time. l tried to get in touch with Mary, but she didn’t answer, and I respected that. She was still in mourning. I don’t know what has become of her. I hope she has had a good life. I’ve always been haunted by that scene.

    My opinion, FWIW: If he tried to get in touch with her, but she didn’t answer, perhaps that was a clue. And perhaps his “respect” for her didn’t go far enough. And perhaps his subsequent publication of the photograph–without her explicit permission–was a horrible intrusion into her private grief.

    That photograph lives on, Internet-wide.

    Not to Mary McHugh’s detriment, that’s for bloody sure.

    I’ll stop now, probably to the relief of many. Carry on.

    Photographers are looking for the equivalent of a social media ‘like.’  It is mostly a career move. 

    • #15
  16. Steve Fast Member
    Steve Fast
    @SteveFast

    It’s not a good image to publish, even if the widow did give her permission. It’s undignified.

    • #16
  17. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):
    Photographers are looking for the equivalent of a social media ‘like.’  It is mostly a career move. 

    Were any “real” journalists involved?  

    • #17
  18. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):
    Photographers are looking for the equivalent of a social media ‘like.’ It is mostly a career move.

    Were any “real” journalists involved?

    They are thin on the ground. 

    • #18
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