Saturday, April 30, 2005


By Arlene Peck

Recently, while in Atlanta for a class reunion, the number of which you could pull my fingernails out and I would not divulge, I think I found the answer to the lack of interest in the realm of concern of my fellow Jews. It is, I think, a matter of apathy and irrelevance. People just do not care anymore. The priorities have chanced. My dad came out of the service in the Second World War and knew he had to finish school and get into a business to raise a family. Today, we are lazy and without a clue about the subjects that make a real difference. I remember when I lived in Israel and the men there, unlike most of the ones I meet here who are gay, married or dead… sometimes all three, were sexual beings. If they woke up at three in the morning, it was to make love. Today, they’ll get up at 3:00 A.M. to watch a Lakers game. It is all about the mere acquisition of things, seeing all there is to see, buying a bigger, better car or watching sports on television.

I think that maybe it is because life has turned into a series of sound bytes. That, and the fact that so much of the population has ‘dumbed down’. I speak to a lot of Christian radio and Church groups. They may mean well but for the most part, they have no conception of what the map of Israel even looks like. When I speak of the “new Palestinian State” that the world is pushing for in Gaza and ask how many of them even know how big this fictional country is going to be, usually all I receive are blank stares.

They are always amazed when I say that Gaza is about eight miles by twenty-four miles. Good heavens, we have shopping centers that size! Disneyland’s manicured grounds are about that much just to walk around! However, I have decided that for the most part, the majority of the population has no concept of the Middle East or the mindset that is so savage and barbaric that bombings, murder, mayhem, and be-headings are a way of life. We just do not want to deal with it.

While on the Christian programs, I have been asked, “Why doesn’t the “Hollywood crowd” support Israel?” Until recently, I just thought that we are for the most part so assimilated that the Jews of the West Coast can tell you everything about their trophy wives, (usually Asian or very, very blonde) hobbies, the latest gadgets or cosmetic surgery but events like Passover can come and go and it doesn’t make an impression. Even Israelis living here do not make an effort to inconvenience themselves and march in a rally or really work for an organization like the ‘old days’. For the most part, they will write a check and think they have done their obligation.

Maybe it is because I, as a journalist, have been somewhat consumed by the events in Israel and the madness that seems to be taking over the world as we know it by the Islamic and Islamist culture. The fear of losing our civilization and lives to a barbaric and evil identity is to some of us is not only real but also marching over the hill. Yet, our media focus on moronic events and too many of us are consumed with the daily happenings of Michael Jackson or Scott Peterson instead of concern for the thousands of other people being killed by Muslim jihadists or the countries that are being taken over by Islamic law and wars. People, for the most part, just do not care…. or notice. The world could be crashing down and all our politically correct population notices is whether Britney Spears is pregnant or why did Brad and Jen really break up.

We have mastered the Orwellian talent of double-speak anyway. Love is hate and hate is love. Hey, even I, who once considered herself well versed in political issues, am confused. We are weary of watching our soldiers sent home in body bags from a barbaric country whose culture still treats their women like farm animals and has no concept of what democracy means. Nor, do they ever intend to. Wouldn’t matter anyway as their interpretation will bear no resemblance to our own. Yet, somehow we, as a nation, still want to hold onto the believe that the trashing of our way of life as we know it in defense of this violent culture called Islam has a reason behind it that’s going to be positive.

As a journalist, I am confused as to what happens to Israel’s leaders ten minutes after they take office and follow our Presidents like puppy dogs. Israel is not the fifty-first state! Nor is it a banana republic, which has to kow-tow to any leaders when they snap their fingers! We are too bored and apathetic. We have gotten used to the be-headings and horrific sights sent to us via the glory of Allah. Maybe though, before we all smell the blood of jihad on our own shores on a regular basis, maybe it is time to smell the coffee?

A Bowdlerized version of this column was published here and in Arlene can be contacted at:

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Reminiscences about an enormously influential leader of an Australian State government

Under the heading “How Joh kept his chooks well fed”, Allen Callaghan reminisces about a man whom I am proud to say I voted for repeatededly – the Premier of Queensland, Sir Johannes Bjelke-Petersen

Joh Bjelke-Petersen was one of the first television politicians in Australia. Unlike most of his state and federal counterparts in the 1960s, to whom media meant print, he grasped the potential of TV and, equally importantly, that of radio.

In a decentralised state such as Queensland, where the metropolitan media's sway ended at Brisbane's city limits, he could reach the bulk of Queenslanders through 10 regional daily newspapers, six TV channels and 13 radio stations. All were locally owned and independently minded.

The politician and premier often derided as a country hick and stumbling speaker showed a talent for innovation and remaking his image that others, including Premier Peter Beattie, criticised in opposition but emulated in office.

His firsts included his own radio talkback show, street walks, TV reports, newspaper columns, a Telex news service, twice-daily press conferences and a portable public address system.

He was accessible to journalists and the public in a way few politicians today can match. The result was a grasp of what Queenslanders were thinking that left five Opposition leaders and four Liberal leaders in his wake in his 19 years in office.

This was the more remarkable given that he came to the premiership almost by accident when his predecessor, Jack Pizzey, died suddenly after only six months in office in 1968. Within two years his own party tried to depose him after serious doubts over his political and media profile.

Joh survived but realised he had to come to terms with the visual media. His first move was to hire Hugh Bingham, a former editor of Brisbane Truth, a public relations expert and later head of public affairs for Carlton & United Breweries.

Bingham's first move was to try to soften the wowser image with outings to Eagle Farm racecourse and pictures of Joh patting a horse. Ironically, I wasn't impressed with this and while the ABC's political reporter for Queensland put one of these photos up on the newsroom bulletin board with the caption: "Joh's new entry in the expediency stakes. His last starter, Integrity, fell at the first hurdle."

I had interviewed him often while he was works and housing minister and insisted on short, sharp answers when he started to ramble. At that time only the ABC had a full-time TV journalist on the political round and when Joh later wanted a media adviser he asked me. I thought hard about jumping from the senior position in the ABC newsroom to a premier whose future looked decidedly dicey. However, I relished the challenge and took the plunge in 1971.

The Liberal leader and treasurer, Gordon Chalk, warned me: "You know it won't last." I was there eight years.

Work in print, radio, TV, government and public relations, including helping introduce the ABC's Canberra TV news, gave me insights into the requirements of each medium that proved invaluable. The chief advantage was that Joh was a man willing not only to listen to ideas but to adopt them. Despite entrenched opposition from the Premier's Department, which didn't think he would last, Joh's first innovation was a media room and twice-daily news conferences. The room had cabling so that the TV interviews could be beamed straight back to the newsrooms and phone outlets for the radio stations.

The premier sat a metre away from the journalists and took all questions and all comers -- including the Daily Sun's Max Jessop, who wore his ALP tie. He gave separate interviews to the (then) three TV channels and to the radio stations.

Every journalist had Joh's direct office line and his home number at Kingaroy, which he or Florence always answered. I invited any journalist who didn't believe I could speak for him to ring Joh and put the query direct.

But it was in radio and TV that he was to excel. Talkback radio was a new development and he took it up with a proposal to station 4BH to go live in a one-hour session weekly. The response was immediate. Joh was no shy violet on air and he had no hesitation in meeting head-on the panel of callers the ALP recruited. But there were a lot of genuine callers with problems and it was my job take down their names for replies in between providing him with statistics and information largely from memory, because there were no computer monitors, only headphones.

Like the daily media conferences, it gave him immediate feedback on political issues. Joh became so confident on radio that he was one of the few I know game to hang up on AM or PM with remarks such as "Well I think you've had a good go" or "You're just a Labor fella". Radio loved him because he was accessible, feisty and good ratings value.

He took coaching in TV but instead of waiting for the channels to turn up, took the initiative with his own program, The Premier Reports. This five-minute show, immediately dubbed The Joh Show, produced by me and shot by the government cinematographer, Brian Benson, ran on bought time on Channel 9 in Brisbane and all regional TV stations. I edited a radio tape from the soundtrack and that went to all radio stations in Queensland. I also turned it into a newspaper column, which went to the regional dailies but particularly to the large number of bi-weekly and weekly newspapers.

In the 1970s, only the regional dailies had a syndicated news feed through Country Press and even they relied heavily on material provided, preferably for free. We remembered every newspaper no matter how small and they in turn remembered us. Joh used to tell public rallies: "You don't only see me at election times." It was the same with the media.

We also recorded each year Joh's talking Christmas card to Queenslanders. Another innovation was the taped voice grab for radio. The ALP railed against Joh's "media machine", but it consisted solely of me, my secretary and the government cinematographer out of the premier's total staff of eight. The State Public Relations Bureau produced information, books and other promotional materials but not political material.

I bought a clock radio that had a built-in tape recorder so I could tape news bulletins. I've still got it. I monitored all news bulletins from 6am to 9pm and the radio enabled me to tape them for replay. I also had one of the first video recorders, which I kept at home for the evening TV bulletins. I also bought a small tape recorder and a friend made me up a lead, which plugged into it. The other end was a jack so I could unplug my phone and plug in the recorder. When I had a news release, I would write three versions -- one for print, one for TV and one in radio style. If Joh was busy and unable to give a live interview to radio, I would tape a short grab, ring the radio station to offer it and then send it down the line. This is standard procedure today but it was groundbreaking then.

Following complaints from regional media that they were not getting news items in time for their deadlines, I started my own Telex news service. This was pre-computers and had to be done manually. I would write the three versions and then cut a paper tape. Because I could only send a broadcast call to six addresses at a time, this meant my sitting at the machine on a Sunday afternoon for three hours to reach all regional newspapers, TV and radio.

Joh put great store in personal contacts. When we travelled, I always offered the TV channels and radio stations live studio interviews. Few passed up the opportunity, particularly as Joh was willing to take his chances direct to camera.

Because of the habit of This Day Tonight of intercutting interviews or using them as a short introduction to opposing attacks, Joh would only go on it live. His view was as he had to take his chances straight to camera, so could they. He also refused debates and panels -- "they can get their own platform".

He also heeded my advice after he had walked out of a press conference about his Comalco shares: "Stay to the end and smile, until your teeth ache."

Joh perfected the street walk, which gave him the double benefit of directly meeting people and good TV footage. Street walks had a limited life and eventually were kept for special occasions.

Joh's great love was the public meeting, where we would hire a hall, invite all comers and sit back and wait for the onslaught. There were always hecklers and some were highly organised but Joh gave as good as he got. In Mt Isa, the miners gave him a hard time and often the boos drowned out Joh's speech but afterwards they came up and told him: "We won't vote for you, Joh, but we respect you for coming." The National Party eventually won what had been a safe Labor seat.

He could ramble if it suited him but he could also be concise and direct. He knew that no matter how many people he spoke to at a public meeting or how well he answered a question in parliament it meant little unless it was reported next day in the press and on radio and TV.

Joh's approach to the media was one of mutual respect. He knew some hated him and he made no secret of his feelings in return, but he treated all fairly, rarely ducked hard questions and gave as good as he got. The premier and the media chooks fed off each other. His motto was: "It's your right to ask your question your way and it's my right to answer my way."

The only journalist he banned was Mike Willesee, for persistently breaking his undertakings in order to secure interviews. Joh's attitude to the national media was that they had little influence in Queensland and that there were no votes south of Coolangatta.

Joh's ability to learn was demonstrated when the ABC asked him to take part in a TV series called An Evening With, in which a personality sat in an armchair on a bare stage and spoke to an audience live for half an hour about him or herself. He was at ease, lucid and candid and displayed a seldom-seen sense of humour. It was a long way from the man who I had told during an interview in 1969 that his answers on housing were too long, too rambling and no good to anyone.

Allen Callaghan was Joh Bjelke-Petersen's media adviser from 1971 to 1979


Tuesday, April 26, 2005

They Don't Embarrass Easily

A few years ago The New York Times ran a cartoon that showed two Washington DC policy experts having a conversation. "In Washington the search for truth is a creative process. First, you create a premise. Next you create a statistic to back it up. Then you create an audience by repeating it over and over again, until the media pick it up. That's when you know that you've done it."

"Done what?"

"Created a fact!"

Just add Atlanta -- the home of the Centers for Disease Control -- to Washington and you have a pretty good idea of how obesity science and policy are made these days. Despite the fact that the CDC has been caught out creating "statistics" to back up the "fact" of an obesity epidemic, it appears to be neither embarrassed nor remorseful. As the Associated Press reported:

"CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding said because of the uncertainty in calculating the health effects of being overweight, the CDC is not going to use the brand-new figure of 25,814 in its public awareness campaigns and is not going to scale back its fight against obesity."

So let's get this straight. When the CDC's numbers said that obesity was overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of death, allegedly killing 400,000 Americans a year, it was all right to use that 400,000 figure non-stop to scare us into losing weight. But when the real number turns out to be just short of 26,000 then the CDC is so worried about "uncertainty" that they aren't going to use the figure. Obviously, Dr. Gerberding did not get her doctorate in logic.

The reason, of course, that Dr. Gerberding does not want to use the supposed 25,814 deaths (remember, we're not even certain there are this many) from obesity as the basis for a new campaign in the war on fat is that, well, as things go, it just isn't terribly useful. Gerberding knows that it is pretty hard to talk about an epidemic if you've only got 25,000 victims, and without talk of an epidemic it's pretty difficult to get the media's attention, Washington's money and, most importantly, push through a host of coercive policy measures that tell Americans what they can and what they cannot eat.

But notice, the good doctor isn't going to let a few hundred thousand fewer deaths stop a good thing. Despite the lack of credible statistics, we just "know" that obesity is still killing millions of Americans -- even if we can't find where they live -- and there is no reason to "scale back" the fight against obesity. Now that's what makes the CDC and much of official Washington such scary places. Typically a good public policy process first finds clear evidence of a substantial problem and then goes about finding a policy solution. Evidence drives and shapes policy. But here we have policy "creating" evidence. Even though the supposed justification for intervening into the lives of millions of Americans is now defunct, the claim that fat causes early death is still made and the campaign against obesity still goes forward.

Of course, what Dr. Gerberding was too modest to tell the Associated Press is that the 25,814 figure is not destined to survive for long as it is just too inconvenient. Already someone, somewhere, has started the tedious but very necessary work of crunching some more acceptable number that will bolster the "fact" of obesity=premature death back into headline-grabbing territory. But just to make that enterprise as difficult as possible, here are a few non-Washington statistics from the last 50 years about the alleged dangers of being overweight and obese.

First, take the study that really started the "obesity epidemic", the 1999 JAMA published research "Annual Deaths Attributable to Obesity in the United States" which suggested that being overweight was responsible for about 300,000 deaths a year in the US. If you look at this data you find that individuals with BMI's of 25 -- overweight -- have a lower risk of dying prematurely than those with BMI's of 20 or normal weight. Again, those with BMI's of 20 have the same risk of premature death as those with a BMI of 30 -- obese.

Second, take another widely cited study, "Overweight, Obesity and Mortality from Cancer" (New England Journal of Medicine, 2003) which like the JAMA article generated huge headlines with its claim to provide a definitive account of the obesity-cancer relationship. The authors claimed that up to 90,000 cancer deaths a year could be avoided if every adult kept his or her BMI below 25. Yet the data actually shows something quite different. People with BMI's of 18.5-24.9 - normal -- had a cancer mortality rate of 4.5 deaths per 1000 study subjects while individuals with BMI's of 25-29.0 -- the overweight -- had a cancer mortality rate of 4.4 deaths per thousand -- actually lower. In other words, for the 100 millions plus Americans who are classified as overweight there was a negative correlation between being overweight and dying from cancer.

Nor are these findings flukes. Ancel Keys, the proponent of the cholesterol-heart disease theory, who over 25 years looked at fat and mortality rates in Japan, Greece, Italy, Yugoslavia, the Netherlands, Finland and the United States came to similar conclusions. Published as the Seven Country Study in 1980, Keys found the risk of premature mortality due to excessive weight increased only at the extremes of over and under weight. A recent study looking at a group of Europeans from his original data found men with BMI's of less than 18.5 -- that is thin men -- had almost twice the mortality rate of either normal or overweight men, even controlling for smoking. The study further found that being overweight -- a BMI of 25-29.9 -- had no effect on mortality and even those men who were obese still had lower death rates than the thin men.

A similar pattern was found in a 1996 US study that re-analyzed data from previous studies involving more than 600,000 subjects. The study found white males with BMI's in the normal range of 19-21 had the same mortality rate as those with BMI's of 29-31 -- overweight and obese. Again, for non-smoking white males, the lowest mortality rate was found with BMI's of 23-29, a range that includes the overweight.

Perhaps as we wait for the next set of statistics that purports to show us dying by the thousands from our fat we can console ourselves with the one genuine fact in this sorry mess which is that we have more to be worried about in junk science than in junk food.


Sunday, April 10, 2005


Some thoughts from a reader:

With the latest media scandal breaking over our heads, namely the AP/CBS photo journalist, caught with the “insurgents” in Mosul in Iraq; is it not time to call a halt to all the moral posturing and obfuscations of the pseudo self righteous media. Given this latest ethical pretzel of media logic can we not now question their ethics. To all intents and purposes, by this action the media has effectively placed themselves into the enemy camp, although, I would guaranty, to a man, they would argue, that they were just pursuing objective journalism, that to question their methods, is to impugn their motives. Well, I for one do impugn their motives, for it seems to me that they are ready, willing and able to sacrifice the blood of myself, my children, my neighbours and my fellow citizens, upon the altar of their perceived moral superiority: put another way, your life, your blood, is meaningless to their superior intellect, except that it serves as a prop to their egos. It’s just another exercise in feeling good about themselves.

Now please excuse the crudity of the following, but it is the perfect analogy for this intellectual turpitude. Remember when your parents had that rather strained conversation with you about the birds and the bees, yes the one that ends with… “and if you don’t listen, you’ll go blind, my son.” (Well, maybe not the girls, I don’t know as I wasn’t privy to that conversation, but us boys sure do.) Maybe it would have been wiser to have framed it like this….

“Son, now I know that there are certain urges that are hard to resist, but you must try. However, if you cannot, let me tell you this…self abuse is an act best performed in the privacy of your own room, with your arm resting between your legs; not in a public place, with your hand wrapped firmly around your ego, for blindness will surely follow. Oh, and son, remember to clean up after yourself.” Now that fatherly lesson could have far reaching benefits to all of us, especially given that those given to abusing the ego, have a marked tendency to leave the chore of cleaning up the sticky mess of their orgasmic delights to the innocent, the unwary, those with a disposition of true moral rectitude.

How have we come so far down this path of moral equivalency while failing to recognise just what it is that we are losing, our connection to our own humanity. Is man so afraid of his own mortality, that he spins these endless intellectual webs, in a never ending headlong rush to escape his true insignificance and natural state of cowardice.

Was the Roman poet Lucretius, more right than even he knew, when he wrote these words… “What joy it is, when out at sea the storm winds are lashing the waters, to gaze from the shore at the heavy stress some other man is enduring! Not that anyone’s afflictions are in themselves a source of delight; but to realise from what troubles you yourself are free is joy indeed. What joy, again, to watch opposing hosts marshalled on the field of battle when you have yourself no part in their peril! But this is the greatest joy of all: to possess a quiet sanctuary, stoutly fortified by the teaching of the wise, and to gaze down from that elevation on others wandering aimlessly in search of a way of life, pitting their wits one against another, disputing for precedence, struggling night and day with unstinted effort to scale the pinnacles of wealth and power. O joyless hearts of men! O minds without vision! How dark and dangerous the life in which this tiny span is lived away! Do you not see that nature is barking for two things only, a body free from pain, a mind released from worry and fear for the enjoyment of pleasurable sensations?”

True wisdom is a gift granted to few in this world, as history shows; for the majority, their lot appears to be one of striving to attain mediocrity; on the face of it an arrogant statement to be sure, but also one which when held against the evidence of history, would appear to be unimpeachable.

Reason, or more correctly, our rational facilities are subject to the whim of our desires; hence the dislocation between subjective and objective opinion. Therefore, when considering the source of our opinions, due deference must be observed to motivation in conjunction with the emotions of arrogance, allegiance, and inclination, (read, avarice and envy).

Given the Roman writer Sallust’s dictum, “that ambition has driven many men to be false, to have one thought locked in the breast, with another ready on the tongue,” it would be wise to consider what motivations constitute the foundation of a prognosticator’s pronouncements. Common sense, dictates when actions appear rational, even to the untrained eye. But when concurrent actions do not seem rational, but instead seem to follow an interest contrary to common sense, then is it not time to question, the foundation and motivation of those positions, and their inherent value or danger to the society from which they flow. The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhaur once said that “you would think that educators, striving to attain knowledge, would acquire wisdom, sadly this not being the case, but rather the appearance of it”

Given the already exposed position of academic irrationality, namely it’s hostility to economic success as achieved in the market place, it’s contempt for the values and existence of “the petite bourgeoisie,” and it’s concomitant militant advocacy for revolutionary action and it’s desires and designs in the realm of social engineering, it would seem to me that we must question whether the intellectual pursuit of knowledge, at least in the fields of the humanities, has any intrinsic value to society. As the history of the last two hundred years shows, intellectual utterances have bequeathed us an uninterrupted flow of blood, pain, decay and social chaos. For in truth, much of academia (at least in the humanities), has gotten itself seriously lost down the rabbit hole of intellectualism. It has consistently opened the door to the dominant conviction of the few, at a terrible cost to the many, all the while claiming to seek a better world for tomorrow. No clearer case of the moral degeneracy of much of academia, can be found than the adoration and veneration of Che Guevara, a thug of the first order, a tool of revolutionary fervour, in pursuit of utopian fantasies; all based on the premise that “his heart was in the right place”, for he claimed to be fighting for the oppressed masses, ironic then that he should have been midwife to the birth of a totalitarian monstrosity. But such is the nature of the partisan politics of intellectualism. Reality becomes an impediment to be denied at all costs: the Post Modernist mindset in action.

Why, when we have witnessed the legacy of such follies, do we continue to permit the postulations of the foolish, to pass without stern condemnation, and condign ridicule? The recent flap of one academic’s foolish utterances, can be brought into contrast, by the expedient use of some reality, as opposed to his fatuous postulation. Adolph Eichmann, the one from the pages of history, was a high level functionary of Nazi Germany, commissioned by the German High Command, with the administrative responsibility for the daily operation of “The Final Solution” A story relates to his visit to Auschwitz for an official inspection. Upon being confronted with the reality of his directives, he became physically sick and had to leave. It was reported that he was unable to speak for several hours after. Now jump forward in history to Eichmann’s trial in Tel Aviv in 1960, to Hannah Arendt, where her most over-riding observation was the sense of the sheer banality of evil. This tale leaves a considered mind to an understanding of both the motivations and the mechanisms by which perverted authority manipulates weak and incomplete minds to serve it’s corrupt ends. For it displays Eichmann for the hollow shell of a mind, that he most undoubtedly was, a functionary of great proficiency and no mind, for into empty vessels can be poured all the poison and venom of any nefarious scheme that a dominant conviction can conceive.

Now in Mr. Ward Churchill’s fatuous prognostications, Eichmann, the one from the mind’s eye of a sophist, displays all the poison and venom of the nihilistic mind. This insulting display of ignorance married to arrogance is the quintessential Post Modernist mind in action. The muddying of the waters, the clouding of debate, reveals both academia’s moral turpitude and it’s degenerate methods. This in turn brings us back to Sallust, where talking of the causes and degeneracy of “the Catiline conspiracy,” he declares that times of peace and prosperity can be the harbinger of mischief; for idle minds fortified by convictions, born of arrogance, (as to self worth), are seeds by which seditious actions are nurtured.” As Virgil said, “a snake lurks in the grass”.

With all the recent wild accusations of “fascist” “nazi” and “Zionazi”, flung wildly and without regard to context or historical accuracy, it would seem the time has come to seek discernment and qualification. To evaluate our individual positions I pose the following philosophical puzzle.

In 1943 or thereabouts the German army in the East instituted a photographic competition, open to all. Out of the collected files of this competition, one picture stands out for the distinct clarity of the division between civilized man and his antithesis, the raw barbarian. The scene takes place on the Russian steppes, a barren flatness, broken only by the division where the sky meets the land, creating an empty background to the composition, which brings a point of focus to the actual subject caught by the camera lens. On the right side of the picture, stands a man in an overcoat, a simple man of no obvious distinction. In the man’s arms, clutched tightly to his breast, is a young boy, about 6 or 7 years old. From the pose, one senses all the emotions that are true to a civilized mind…love, fear, sacrifice, in other words, the complete connection between father and son. A portrait of humanity’s ongoing struggle just to live a life in a simple stark relief. To the left of the scene, stands a German soldier, resplendent in a clean, smart uniform, polished leather boots, a modern man, the new man, in contrast to the simple man on the right. The pose in the picture has him holding a rifle aimed at the back of the man on the right, with a stance denoting a man confident and self assured in his duty and professionalism. A man so blinded by arrogance, that he is oblivious to the horror of his actions. In short, the quintessential essence of barbarism.

Before our eyes, a summary execution takes place. The setting leaves no doubt in the mind of the viewer as to the arbitrariness of this action. The camera captures the moment of horror for us as the soldier shoots the man in the back, thus gaining a twofer for the executioner, with the bullet passing through father and son. The scene encapsulates the assault of barbarism upon civilized man, clearly leaving no doubt as to the innocence of the one verses the barbarism of the other.

There is a third party to this picture, unseen but ever-present… the man behind the camera. This is where our puzzle draws it’s question. For what is the moral responsibility of this party. Place yourself in his shoes, and answer, “what would my position be”. The standard stated view, namely that the photographer is a detached disinterested observer, in this circumstance is clearly a moral obfuscation; a ruse to hide behind and escape just condemnation, for clearly, by his actions, the cameraman throws his lot in with the barbarian. Leave aside the likely fact that the cameraman was in all probability also a German soldier, remember this is you, your position is what we seek an answer for.

What the argument boils down to is this, do you act in defence of civilized man in his innocence, in his hour of need, even when this could in all probability mean conflict or death for you, or do you turn off your conscience, turn a blind eye to barbarisms assault on humanity. Your choice becomes stark, honour or collusion. Are you prepared to sacrifice your soul to the barbaric, or do you have the courage to stand with humanity, to be a man, if only for one brief moment in time. For to side with the barbarian, there is no way back, forever onward, marked as a coward, you will spend the rest of your existence running from the reality of what you are. For if you are of a shallow mind you will forever hide your ultimate truth behind clever and sophistic obfuscations, or of an intelligent and forthrightly honest disposition, you will be tormented by guilt; you will be forever an empty shell, blowing in the tides and eddies of fortunes vicissitudes, at the whim of any dominant conviction, seeking storm troopers for it’s agenda.

Remember it is the empty, dogmatic mind that is the fertile soil into which the opportunistic self righteous, the self serving, the dominant mind, sows it’s poisonous seed.