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Announcement :: DNC : Human Rights : Organizing
Yard Sign Project Update
02 Jul 2004
The invitation below has been sent to artists, friends, writers, activists, and strangers. Please contact me if I may provide further information, images,etc. Yard Sign Project is online at http://billfisher.dreamhost.com/yardsign.htm, allowing individual s to freely print a larger, full-resolution image. As a way of dealing with this crises of humanity, dissemination is crucial to this project, the diffusion of rational, universal, humanistic ideals, realities and responsibilities. Any help you might off e r (posting a sign, creating a link, forwarding this announcement, etc) would be greatly appreciated.e
10Cs.jpg
HOME4SALE.jpg
support.jpg
Yard Sign Project

Red, white and blue signs, approximately 1.5' x 2', are to be placed in
front yards and other public locations. They are designed to resemble
the ubiquitous * yard signs printed commercially and posted in front
of homes and businesses throughout the southern USA. The "Ten
Commandments" yard sign includes text from the Geneva Convention
as it relates specifically to treatment of prisoners. "Support Our
Troops" includes previously restricte d imagery of the rem ains of US
servicemen and servicewomen. "Home For Sale" includes an image of
the American flag, violently out of focus.

If you would like to display these signs in your yard or elsewhere, click
here to dow nload a "10 Commandments" pdf f ile, here to download
"Support Our Troops," or here to download "Home For Sale," all
suitable for printing. You will either need a large format printer, or you
can resize the image for your printer. I as k that you send E-mail
confirmation of your participation, and if possible, digital
documentation of your sign in place to
william.fisher (at) gcsu.edu, or photographs may be mailed to Bill Fisher,
CBX 094, GC&SU, Milledgeville, Georgia 31061. Please feel free to
encourage othe rs to participate.

Project Rationale

As our political leaders and media now focus on the outrage felt over
the recent release of images of torture and humiliation of Iraqi
Prisoners of War, it appears the "illegal" release of such imag es may
be as repugnant as the actual abuses or their underlying causes.

This may be inferred from the following excerpted testimony by
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, before the Senate and
House Armed Services Committees, Friday, May 7, 2004:

"It's my failure for not understanding and knowing there were
hundreds or however many there are of these (pictures) that could
eventually end up in the public and do the damage they've done."

"The photographic depiction s of U.S. military personnel that the public
has seen have unquestionably offended and outraged everyone in the
Department of Defense. If you could have seen the anguished
expressions on the faces of those of us in the Department upon
seeing the photos, you would know how we feel today."

"We're functioning in a -- with peacetime restraints, with legal
requirements in a war-time situation, in the information age, where
people are running around with digital cameras and taking these
unbelievable photographs and then passing them off, against the law,
to the media, to our surprise, when they had not even a rrived in the
Pentagon."

"If these (pictures) are released to the public, obviously it's going to
make matters worse. That's just a fact. I mean, I looked at them last
night, and they're hard to believe. And if they're sent t o some news
organization, and taken out of the criminal prosecution channels that
they're in, that's where we'll be. And it's not a pretty picture."

"It is the photographs that gives one the vivid realization of what
actually took place. Words don't do it. The words that there were
abuses, that it was cruel, that it was inhumane -- all of which is true --
that it was blatant, you read that and it's one thing. You see the
photographs and you get a sense of it and you cannot help but be
outraged."

Secretary Rumsfeld was one of the first to object when pictures of
American hostages taken b y the former Saddam regime were aired on
television. He said this was harmful to their dign ity and contravened
Geneva conventions.

However, according to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, it is the US
government's position that even if i t was torturing and executing
prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, no court could interc ede. The WP
editorial page charged Secretary Rumsfeld was to blame for the lack
of accountability in prisons: "[Rumsfeld's] Pentagon ruled that the
United Sta tes would no longer be bound by the Geneva Conventions (in
Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay); that Army regulations on the
interrogation of prisoners would not be observed; and that many
detainees would be held incommunicado and without any inde pendent
mechanism of review."

According to Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker, there are as yet
unaddressed allegations of a separate unit at Abu Ghraib prison
reserved for women and children.

As our cause in Iraq is seen by many as m orally superior to the cause
of those Iraqis opposed to our presence there, the Judeo-Christian
influence on our leadership and wartime policies can not be
overlooked. The purpose of referencing the Ten Commandments in the
Yard Sign Projec t is not to denigrate this ethical docum ent which
includes admonitions against killing, but rather to comment on the
hypocrisy of displaying such a document or publicly espousing its
content while supporting behavior which it specifically prohibits. The
substituted t ext from the Geneva Convention is used to remind
ourselves of both our claim to be civilized even in the event of war and
our responsibility to the world community and to humanity, and to
educate those unfamiliar with these universally accepted
proscriptions on the maltreatment of prisoners.

Bill Fisher, May 14, 2004

*In 2003, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the removal
of a 5,280-pound granite representation of the Ten Commandme nts
from the Alabama Supreme Court rotunda, installed by Chief Justice
Roy Moore. The resulting debate over the removal of the monument
lead to private citizens displaying the Commandments on front yard
signs throughout the Southern USA, p erhaps in solidarity with the
former Justice (Moore was removed from office for defying a federal
judge's order to move his monument), or in support of the First
Amendment, or perhaps in support of the values expressed within the
Commandments. The recent and aggressive invoking of the church (or
the Christian God) by the state, and the resultant narrowing of their
separation (as also seen through federal funding for "faith-based
initiatives") may be to J ustice Moore's benefit as he pursues his case.
Moore also hopes to place a similar monument in the US Capitol, as a
gift to Congress.

According to The Washington Times, August 31, 2003, "The Alabama
chief justice's constituti onal interpretation on the Ten Com mandments
may find support from three of the Supreme Court justices, including
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who has taken stands on
church-state issues several times since 1980. 'The Establishm ent
Clause does not require that the p ublic sector be insulated from all
things which may have a religious significance or origin. ... The Ten
Commandments have had a significant impact on the development of
secular legal codes of the Western world,' Chief Justice Rehnquist
wrote in objecting to the court's unsigned opinion on the First
Amendment church-state issue in a 1980 case, Stone v. Graham.
Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas in 2001 joined h is opinion
and said the Supreme Court 'never determined ... that the
Commandments lack a secular application,' despite their religious
guidance to Christians and Jews." C
See also:
http://billfisher.dreamhost.com/yardsign.htm
http://billfisher.dreamhost.com