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Saturday, August 27, 2005

Porn for Monsters 

From New Scientist:
IN INTERNET chat rooms, veterans ask if anyone else is having a similar experience. "I had an incident where a small Iraqi boy had his leg blown off. His screams haunt my thoughts. Is what I am experiencing normal?" asks IraqCowboy. "They gave me sleeping pills, but it doesn't stop the nightmares," says Chucky. "The doctor says my husband has PTSD," posts Sam. "Does that count as a combat-related illness?"

What is now known as PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, was called shell shock back in the days of the first world war. Sufferers have harrowing flashbacks, and alternate between emotional numbness and outbursts of rage, guilt and depression. Previously well-adjusted soldiers suffer impaired memory and attention, insomnia and anxiety, and are more likely to take drugs and alcohol later in life. That much is well recognised.

What is less well known is that PTSD can trigger physical as well as psychological ill health. And as the US agonises over how long its soldiers should stay in Iraq, New Scientist has pieced together evidence showing that veterans will be paying the price of combat for decades to come. Recent and soon-to-be published research reveals that soldiers who fought in theatres as diverse as Vietnam and Lebanon are not only more likely to die from an accident on their return, but are also twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even cancer later in life. And these problems are particularly likely to afflict troops who experience the close-quarters fighting taking place in Iraq . . . .

But now Joseph Boscarino of the New York Academy of Medicine has re-analysed the 1985 data [on Vietnam vets] to assess which men were suffering from the condition. That analysis, to be published in Annals of Epidemiology, reveals stark differences in death rates persisting 30 years after the end of the Vietnam conflict. All men with PTSD, whether from combat experience or not, were more likely to die from "external causes" such as accidents, drugs or suicide. But men who developed PTSD as a consequence of combat were also more likely to die of heart disease and, surprisingly, various kinds of cancer.

People with PTSD may experience long-term changes in various immune reactions, and in levels of the stress hormone cortisol and chemicals such as adrenalin and dopamine that underlie fight-or-flight reflexes, Boscarino says. He found a direct relationship between the amount of combat exposure and the reduction in cortisol levels. "The excess deaths in both PTSD groups show that stress can kill," he says. "But the much greater effect among the combat veterans shows there is something especially bad about that."
By way of confession: we have never served in combat, we hope never to serve in combat, we hope that our children will never have to serve in combat. We cannot pretend that we are capable of imagining the toll that war exacts on the psyches of those who fight it. We would never presume to tell them how they should attempt to cope with the damage.

That said, we truly do not know what to make of NowThat'sFuckedUp.com, an amateur porn site with a twist that lives up to its URL and then some. The gimmick? If you happen to be a serviceman, you can earn free access to nude photos by posting splatter shots of dead Iraqis:
If you are a U.S. Soldier stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan, or any other combat area and would like free SUPPORTER access for the site, you can post real pictures you or your buddies have taken while you have been deployed.

This section is for the gory ones so that people who do not wish to see that kind of stuff can just not go in here. I also do not want already published pictures that were taken by news people. This is supposed to be an area where we can see pictures posted by the solders themselves.

Just post your pics like you normally would and when I see them I will approve you for free access to the wife and g/f area. There have only been a few people cheat from this but I do now know what kind of pics to expect from the guys over there. So please do not waste my time if you are not a military person by just posting iraq pics you found on CNN or something.

Keep up the good work over there guys, we love seeing your pics.
We must warn you that if you click on the link above, the images you will see are likely to stay with you for quite a while. To get a sense of the general flavor, just read a few of the thread titles:
  • Don't FUCK with the U.S. Army
  • DIE HAJI DIE
  • Nice puss/bad foot
  • Warning This is some hardcore shit -- not for the squeamish
  • Cooked Iraqi
  • Hey soldier buds -- post some FRESH KILLS for US
  • Name this body part
  • Gotta respect the head shot
Our friend and fellow BARBARian Generik alerted us to the existence of the site in an e-mail yesterday morning. He was initially hesitant to post the link himself, but finally decided to do so. He explains why here:
I took a look at just a couple of [photos], and they are stomach-turningly horrific, much more gruesome than anything that we've seen from Abu Ghraib or in the general media coverage of Iraq and Afghanistan . . . . What is just as chilling, if not more so, is the attitude of the folks who post there, all swagger and chest-thumping bravado at the killing of other people. This is what war does to our sons and daughters; it dehumanizes them, it makes them capable of taking pictures like these and of being proud to have posted them for the world to see. Would you want to spend much time with a fellow who proudly posts pictures of what he terms "barbecued hajis"? How will these people impact society if and when they return from combat?

I have to wonder how even the most rabid 101st Fighting Keyboarder would react when confronted with images like the ones posted there. Or how the war supporters in DC would feel upon viewing them, not to mention your average American out there in the heartland. Surely some of them might rethink their support for the travesty in Iraq if they were to view the horrors exposed in these photographs.

Well, we can tell ourselves, there have always been monsters and psychopaths and ear-collectors who found their true bliss only on the battlefield; there's always been a market for snuff pics. But the internet makes even the most exotic perversions accessible to all. What must Iraqis think about the Land of the Free when they stumble across NowThatsFuckedUp.com and see the ravaged corpses of friends, neighbors, loved ones displayed alongside pornography -- displayed as pornography?

What did our troops think when they saw photos of four "cooked contractors" on the bridge at Fallujah?

And how does the Pentagon (which does not hesitate to squelch antiwar blogs written by service members, or conceal photos of detainee abuse in defiance of court orders) feel about the sick fucks who operate this unparallelled recruiting tool for terrorists?

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