A few days ago the New York Post ran a large front page photograph of Lance Corporal James Miller, a marine now fighting in Fallujah. It’s a terrific picture. You can see it here. Observant types will note that this particular marine has a cigarette in his mouth. The photo’s caption? “Marlboro men kick butt in Falliujah.” Well, it was the New York Post.
Here’s how some readers responded:
“How many kids trying to emulate heroic U.S. soldiers in Iraq will choose to slowly commit suicide as a direct result of your ill-conceived Marlboro pandering? Be a responsible part of the community instead of simply leeching off it 25 cents at a time.”
“How much did Phillip Morris pay for the front cover advertisement? Thank you for continuing to encourage the development of cancer.”
“I was shocked to see the front page of your newspaper. Showing a GI smoking and portraying it as being cool is disgusting, to say the least. First of all, you are promoting smoking, even though it is a health hazard. Secondly, our brave men and women are fighting a tough war in Iraq, and to show them as you did does not do them justice. Maybe showing a Marine in a tank, helping another GI or drinking water would have had a more positive impact on your readers. Smoking should be outlawed, not endorsed.”
Oh, for heaven’s sake.
As for the Marine, a laconic, low-key type seemingly rare in today’s America. “If you want to write something,” he told a reporter later “tell Marlboro I’m down to four packs, and I’m here in Fallujah till who knows when. Maybe they can send some. And they can bring down the price a bit.”
And when his time in the Marines is over: “When I get out, I just want to chill out a little bit…Go back to my house, farm a little bit, do some mechanical stuff around the house and call it a day. Oh, and, as a LA Times reporter notes, there’s just one more thing: “I’ll just sit on my roof and smoke a cigarette.”
Come home safely, Lance Corporal.