The context is this - we're in the middle of a war in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the never-ending-war the conspiracy theorists warned us was coming. The legality, legitimacy or sensibility of this war is not the issue though. Instead the issue is a man who operated a web site offering porno pictures for free in exchange for pictures of dead or mutilated or tortured Iraqi or Afghani people. He was exchanging these pictures with the troops in the field.
Porn and gore man arrested GI Jane man collared for 'obscenity' (By John Oates, Published Monday 10th October 2005, The Register)
US Army probes nude GI Janes Porn is one thing, but corpses... (By Lester Haines, Published Wednesday 28th September 2005, The Register)
And he has now been arrested on obscenity charges. The web site used for the above exchange now carries this message:
America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You've gotta want it bad, cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say, "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours." You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the land of the free.
Along with contact URL's for a legal defense fund.
The writer of that statement is right, I'm appalled by someone wanting to collect such things. At the same time I recognize the right to free speech. However, there is more going on here than the exchange of speech and ideas. By offering something desirable in exchange for brutal photographs, isn't he encouraging the troops to commit atrocities?
Perhaps it's fitting he's offering porn images in exchange for atrocity images. Porn is, after all, an atrocity performed upon the beauty of sexual union.
The deeper principle here I see is ... it's not a crime to think about such atrocities. What is a crime is to encourage others to commit them.