Monday, November 29, 2004

Which Is Worse, Smoking or War?

Remember that Los Angeles Times photo a couple of weeks ago? The one picturing the young marine in Fallujah, his face covered with smudged war paint, his nose slightly bloody, taking a cigarette break after 12 hours of combat and 24 hours of no sleep? I didn't think much about it at the time, except that the marine looked less than human and kind of scary.

Well, come to find out now, that photo has appeared in over 100 newspapers all over the country and has become a focus for soldier-worshipping Americans, inspiring maudlin comments from Dan Rather among many others. But there's something people are upset about. Something that is so upsetting it has triggered a flood of letters to editors of papers that published the photo. It's the cigarette in the marine's mouth. It sets a terrible example for children and young people. In their awe of and admiration for this young American who has been shooting people dead for an entire day, they might get the idea that it's okay to smoke.

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