DEKALB, Ill. – Tami Silicio, a cargo worker, took a photograph of 20 flag-draped coffins that held the remains of American soldiers waiting to be transported from Kuwait to the United States.The photo was printed on the front page of The Seattle Times with Silicio’s permission. After publication, Silicio and her husband were fired by the Maytag Aircraft Corp.
The Seattle Times decided to run the photo, not Silicio. She just took a picture that she thought would show relatives of soldiers killed that their loved ones are being returned with “care and devotion,” according to CNN.com. Firing her was not the solution.
Neither is the Pentagon’s policy, which has been in place since 1991 and bars news organizations from photographing caskets being returned to the United States because the photos would be insensitive to bereaved families.
Whether to run the coffin photo or any photo is the decision of the newspaper’s editors. The Pentagon should not be involved. It is an ethical decision, not a government one.
The editors need to decide what the photo would say about the paper and how readers would react and then make a decision. If the photo is news, it should run.
The photo does nothing but illustrate the great care given to the soldiers who have died in Iraq. The names are not shown on the coffins and, therefore, are not insensitive to the soldiers’ families.
If anything, this photo is more of a tribute to the soldiers and their families, not an insensitive action.
The Seattle Times made an ethical decision by running the photo; it was the right decision. People have a right to know the news, and the war in Iraq is the news, including the return of the remains of American soldiers.