Friday, December 26, 2003

Féretros invisibles

Propaganda is sometimes what is not said - or shown.

In her La Opinion column entitled "Invisible caskets", Pilar Marrero points out that in spite of the hundres of US combat deaths in Iraq, not a single coffin has been seen on TV or in print. She ascribes this to the scrupulously observed ban, introduced by George I during the first Gulf War, on photography of bodies arriving at Dover Air Force Base, or of funerals at the National Cemetary at Arlington.

The reason is obvious: the Vietnam legacy of returning body bags.

So is the moral: controlling what is not said is an important part of spin control. Governments have always relied on censorship, though I expect that few Americans would've thought that their government engages in it.

There's a lesson, too, for anyone who cares about their image, which is to say, just about everyone. Being able to block the release of personal information is a source of power. In our digital world, information once released will be duplicated indefinitely. Therefore, be very stingy about sharing any information about yourself. Not only does the data have value, but releases are cumulative: data mining works.

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