Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Medium is the Message: Social Assassination

"The Medium is the Message" Ink & water on watercolor paper 16"x24"

The Medium is the Message
I recently completed a painting that addresses the deep unrest I feel about the increasing use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV's or drones) in unilateral assassinations by our government against people we assert we have intelligence linking to the Taliban or Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  These actions are taken in secret and remain unacknowledged by our government.  If there is any check on our government's executive power to kill anyone, anywhere in the world we deem a threat, it is not transparent. 

Social Assassination
I completed this piece in response to the Brehm Lectures and still plan to submit it for their call for artwork.  The day after I completed it this week Israel launched their offensive near Gaza. Not only have they made heavy use of UAV missile strikes for targeted assassinations openly, but they have been using twitter to post links to video from the drone strikes and Photoshopped images of people they have killed listing the alleged crimes for which they have been judged and executed.

I won't pretend this struggle isn't old and complex.  My concern is that we are now witnessing an extension of ourselves into the technology of UAV's and the strikes they justify and enable in which the fact of our being able to do them is being mistaken for a value or moral imperative to do them along with an a minimized "collateral damage."

I object to people killing people.  I especially object to governments killing people.  I object even more when they do it without any check on that power and without transparent oversight.  Secret courts don't count precisely because they are secret.

In short, as often is the case with new technology, "We were so pre-occupied with whether or not we could, we forgot to ask whether or not we should."  We have extended our selves to our great moral, ethical, economic and human peril.

Update (March 23, 2013):
The painting and a write-up have been shared by both:

Fuller Theological Seminary's Brehm Center for worship theology and the arts

the Institute for Middle East Studies of Beirut, Lebanon.


  1. That's a very interesting piece, and you make an excellent point. Life and death isn't a decision we should give to machines.

  2. I love reading these types of article. It adds knowledge to me.

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