Battlepanda: Qana as Rorschach


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Qana as Rorschach

For me, the Qana Deniers embodies so perfectly the kind of willful feedback loop of ignorance that conspiracy theorists find themselves sucked into. Here's what the AP had to say about blogger Richard of EU Referendum's charge that the Qana massacre was not only staged by Hezbollah, but that the photographers from all over the world covering the scene were complicit in that deception. Before you can say "hezbollywood" this story made it all the way to Rush Limbaugh's widely heard radio show.
"It's hard to imagine how someone sitting in an air-conditioned office or broadcast studio many thousands of miles from the scene can decide what occurred on the ground with any degree of accuracy," said Kathleen Carroll, AP's senior vice president and executive editor.

Carroll said in addition to personally speaking with photo editors, "I also know from 30 years of experience in this business that you can't get competitive journalists to participate in the kind of (staging) experience that is being described."

Photographers are experienced in recognizing when someone is trying to stage something for their benefit, she said.

"Do you really think these people would risk their lives under Israeli shelling to set up a digging ceremony for dead Lebanese kids?" asked Patrick Baz, Mideast photo director for AFP. "I'm totally stunned by first the question, and I can't imagine that somebody would think something like that would have happened."

But then of course they would say that. They're members of the MSM, right?

Richard's original damning expose was based on the timestamps associated with the pictures. Some pictures that appeared to be of the same event were timestamped hours apart. Damning evidence right? Except...
Let's take a look at a photograph that EU Referendum cites. He claims this one was photographed at 4:09 PM ET based on the Yahoo News timestamp. It's quite possible that Richard thinks that the Atlantic is a river, so there must be a trivial, if any, timezone difference. There's a seven hour difference between Qana, Lebanon and the Eastern Time Zone. Thus, that 4:09 PM time that he references would mean the picture was taken at an actual time of 11:09 PM. Simply impossible - there would be no daylight.
Oh, so it seems that the timestamps are of the time the photo was posted onto the website rather than the actual time the photo was taken. Ah, that clear up a lot. At this point you'd like to think that our friend Richard would be too busy eating humble pie and facing unpleasant questions about how the timezones went walkies between the Yahoo website to his devastating takedown to do anymore amateur sleuthing. You'd think wrong. Here's his latest effort.
This first one has him looking at bodies, but the interesting thing is his tee-shirt. Look at it closely, with an inset as large as I could make it without losing definition [snip].The garment appears to have writing across the chest.

The upshot is that the same worker appears in other photographs in a white t-shirt, without the "writing" that we see so clearly in the shirt above. Richard takes this as evidence of a quick change between the scenes.

Does anybody else see anything but shadows and possibly dirt and sweat stains on a white t-shirt in the photograph above? Ironically enough, other wingnuts insinuate that the whole thing was a set-up because the rescue workers are so clean. I know that our brains react to arguments differently depends on whether or not they come from our side. But is this pernicious effect so bad that it can cause able-sighted partisans to see letters on shirts that normal people cannot see?

If you're in the mood to be depressed, read the comment thread to the first EU Referendum post on Qana. In it, commenter WW questions the wisdom of Richard's shaky inferences quite cogently. In return, he was called a troll, a terrorist-lover and eventually banned. How do you reach across the aisle to people who sees everything as a Rorschach test?