Hey there! If you stopped to read this, wow, you're awesome! And since you're that awesome, maybe you'd be willing to check out this super sweet, not-so-top-secret campaign to take Films For Action to the next level of awesome in our quest to change the world. All the details here. Cheers!
Censoring American War Crimes
After years of hating the iconic photo, Kim Phuc came to embrace it as a powerful tool to teach peace.
Censoring American War Crimes
By Abby Zimet / commondreams.org
Sep 12, 2016

Facebook has backed down amidst outraged charges of censorship after deleting the iconic photo of a naked burned Vietnamese girl fleeing a napalm attack during the Vietnam War. Demonstrating questionable journalistic standards now being increasingly challenged, the social network deleted the harrowing, Pulitzer Prize-winning image by AP photographer Nick Ut - which shows nine-year-old Kim Phuc running screaming from her village of Trang Bang after she was severely burned by napalm dropped by South Vietnamese planes on June 8, 1972 - in the name of "maintaining a safe and respectful experience for our global community."

Phuc survived. Despite years of ongoing pain and surgeries related to her burns, she now lives in Canada, runs a foundation dedicated to help other child victims of war, and sometimes speaks about the powerful impact of one of the most famous war photographs of all time taken by the Vietnamese, then-21-year-old Ut. The recent uproar came after Norwegian author Tom Egeland included it in a Facebook post about photos that changed the history of wars, and in this case perhaps helped end one. Facebook removed the picture, Egeland protested, Facebook banned him and then proceeded to remove the image several more times when it was defiantly re-posted by other high-profile Norwegians - including Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who charged, "If you edit past events or people, you change history, and you change reality."

That, critics say, is exactly what Facebook is increasingly doing in the name of common rules for all. Many have blasted the social network's random censorship moves - most famously, banning photos of breastfeeding or post-mastectomy women - as the inevitable result of using murky algorithms, not sentient journalists, to make editorial decisions. Notes one critic, “If they are in the news business, which they are, then they have to get into the world of editorial judgement.” In the case of Ut's famous photo, critics cited their ludicrous inability to figure out that the nude child in the photo is not what's obscene or pornographic; the war and its atrocities are. One critic mused the call was probably made by a 22-year-old with "no fucking idea about the importance of the picture.” Said another, “It’s almost like these are kids playing with a toy above their age bracket” - and their historic understanding.

Facebook finally relented and re-posted the image after a lengthy, fiery, much-read open letter to Mark Zuckerberg by Espen Egil Hansen, editor-in-chief and CEO of Norway's largest paper Aftenposten. Hansen blasted "the world's most powerful editor" with abusing its power and attacking "freedom of expression - and therefore democracy." Citing the very real historical implications of the debate, he wrote, "Mark, please try to envision a new war where children will be the victims of barrel bombs or nerve gas. Would you once again intercept the documentation of cruelties, just because a tiny minority might possibly be offended by images of naked children?" In the end, he notes, the ever-cogent George Orwell said it best. "If liberty means anything at all," he wrote in his preface to Animal Farm, "it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."

Norway's Prime Minister imagines a future of censorship

4.6 ·
4
Featured Films
Living the Change: Inspiring Stories for a Sustainable Future (2018)
85 min Living the Change explores solutions to the global crises we face today – solutions any one of us can be part of – through the inspiring stories of people pioneering change in their own lives and in their communities in order to live in a sustainable and regenerative...
Generation Revolution (2017)
72 min Introducing the powerful stories of London’s new generation of black and brown activists, Generation Revolution explores the successes and unexpected challenges these inspiring young people face. Motivated by the desire for a more equal future, they embark on the rewarding...
Plutocracy: Political Repression In The U.S.A. (2018)
440 min Plutocracy is the first documentary to comprehensively examine early American history through the lens of class. A multi-part series by filmmaker Scott Noble, Part I focuses on the the ways in which the American people have historically been divided on the basis of race...
Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective (2015)
92 min Humanity is more than ever threatened by its own actions; we hear a lot about the need to minimize footprints and to reduce our impact. But what if our footprints were beneficial? What if we could meet human needs while increasing the health and well-being of our...
Within Reach (2013)
87 min Within Reach explores one couple's pedal-powered search for a place to call home. Mandy and Ryan gave up their jobs, cars, and traditional houses to 'bike-pack' 6500 miles around the USA seeking sustainable community. Rather than looking in a traditional neighborhood, they...
Fall and Winter (2013)
102 min This stunning film takes you on a hypnotic journey, reaching to the past to understand the origins of the catastrophic environmental transitions we now face. Over two years, director Matt Anderson traveled 16,000 miles to document firsthand our modern industrial world and the...
Trending Today


Love Films For Action? Become a Patron.

The goal is to go 100% ad-free by next year and become 100% member supported. Would you be willing to make a monthly pledge? A few dollars per month times the power of a few thousand awesome people will get us to where we need to be. Click here to join.

If you'd prefer to make a one-time donation, you can do that here. Many thanks!

Join us on Facebook
Censoring American War Crimes