elizabeth - american flag bikini rifle
i think there was talk of using these for her christmas cards that year...
PLEASE NOTE: This image is copyright 2004 Addison Godel. It is pending registration with the US Electronic Copyright Office. All rights reserved. Unauthorized publication of this image, or images derived therefrom, may be subject to legal action.
Update for those folks looking for answers/statements from me, but who are understandably disinclined to read all the comments below, and at the various linked images where I've chimed in....
1) Yes, this is the real photo. Yes, the Palin one is a Photoshop job. No, I didn't do the Photoshop - that turned out to be InnocuousFun who I had never met or heard of before all this. No, it's not a "real" gun.
A concise and accurate summary of the significant facts can be found at www.factcheck.org/askfactcheck/is_that_a_real_photo_of_sa.... Where other sources contradict that account, or my statements here, trust the latter. FactCheck, as far as I've been able to discern, is as dry and nonpartisan as you can expect for the internet - certainly better than you'll get from my own forays into campaign bloggery!
To be avoided: Fox News's article on the episode, which manages to be a screed against a rival news organization's ostensibly poor fact-checking, while being itself wrong on points that could have easily been confirmed by either reading the FactCheck story or contacting me. I am flattered that they think Elizabeth was my girlfriend - then or ever - but, very sadly, this was not the case.
2) No, I cannot give you any more information about Elizabeth. No, I can't tell you her side of the story. I am uncomfortable issuing statements on her behalf or taking on the role of being her "manager" or anything similar; for her part, she is mainly concerned about her privacy. Both of us are riddled with mixed feelings about the Photoshop image, which makes issuing a definitive "statement" difficult; as well, it seems clear that the blogosphere/commentosphere will inevitably find its own meanings for anything we'd attempt to say. That's the way the world works - but the main point is that both of us kind of wish this whole thing would go away, not from our lives so much as from people's inboxes. More on this below.
3) Thanks for your interest, but I am really not inclined to participate in any online fora, guest blogs, podcasts, et cetera. Major news organizations should refer to the FactCheck story. If you want to put me on national television, get in touch, but only if you are willing to pay travel expenses to somewhere I'd want to visit anyway, plus charitable gifts. What I would really prefer is to be put on "Jeopardy!" and to have this be my cutesy anecdote that Alex asks me about after the first commercial break.
My reticence doesn't stem from any hostility to anybody who's written with such requests, but mainly from a sense that I personally don't have much more to say than I'm saying here, and that everyone's time would really be better spent covering actual news.
4) I am flattered by those who think I somehow have the power to wipe the Palin 'shop off the Internet, but this strikes me as unrealistic in the extreme. Strangers on my bus to work in the morning have seen the thing. Google turns up hundreds of thousands of hits for "'sarah palin' bikini." It's out of my hands - so whether you agree with my statements on this page or not, don't hold the 'shop image's existence, or distributed reach, over my head as something for which I should be responsible.
At the same time, I don't appreciate or accept my photo being used for profit, in whatever its altered state, without my permission or even my knowledge. If you see it for sale in any context, please let me know. This may also be a losing battle but frankly it is weird enough seeing my photo (and my friend's body) all over the Internet - I really don't want to see them on a T-Shirt.
The bottom line: I'm not a spokesperson for the left, for feminism, or for Barack Obama's campaign. I'm just some guy who took a photo four years ago and posted it on this blog two years ago, for the delight and entertainment of my friends. When the Palin 'shop first broke, I was amused because, I mean, I knew it was Elizabeth and it was just...bizarre. I also figured it was just one of countless 'shops being done at that time - I really could not have imagined, when it first appeared in my browser, that it would become as ubiquitous as it has.
I rather wish it hadn't. We deserve better from this election than deception and worn-out old narratives. It's deception to keep forwarding along a fake photo as a real one. It's a worn-out old narrative to imply that a female candidate (for any position, political or not) is unqualified because she has a body and sometimes puts a bathing suit on it (the "bimbo" frame-up).
Sarah Palin is in my view unqualified to be President, and being qualified to be President is really the only qualification to be Vice President. But she's not unqualified because she's a woman, or because of what's going on in her family, or because some Internet person put her face on the photo of some other Internet person. Her lack of qualification broadcasts itself right off of her resume, and is indeed the driving force behind her narrative as "hockey mom"; if she were qualified, she would lose the glow of the Everyperson.
Similarly, I think it's clear that Sarah Palin, to the extent that she has any documented policy convictions, stands for a vision of America with which I, along with millions of others disagree. Some aspects of that vision are what, no doubt, have lent this image an air of plausibility to many. Elizabeth was donning a particular stereotype of us Southerners when this photo was taken; it would have been read by our friends as hilariously out-of-character, but clearly to many people (on both ends of the Palin love/hate spectrum) they seem in-character for the Governor. But: we don't need the perverse patriotism of an American flag bathing suit (I still wonder how the Flag Code handles this) to point out how self-righteous patriotism of the "Liberals aren't really Americans!" variety poisons the well of our political discourse. And we don't need a BB gun to point out that the McCain/Palin ticket is a pro-gun ticket, calling gun control "a proven failure in fighting crime," opposing waiting periods for gun ownership, and seeking to end restrictions on assault weapons and armor-piercing ammunition.
No doubt this will all blow over soon and this text will look like the overpreening ramblings of a small man trying to elevate his teacup's tempest to the status of a major news story. I would offer this, though: I didn't choose to be thrust into the brief, fourth-tier spotlight. All I chose to do was leave the photo up and link it from a version of the other image. I caught the 'shop very early in its cycle and could have very easily taken this down; eagle-eyed viewers would still recognize the tell-tale signs of 'shopping, but many more people who now know the truth probably would still be fooled. I'm not asking for a standing ovation, but to those who have their own ideas about what I could or should have done, I do ask you to imagine yourselves in my shoes. I never quite anticipated that my life's most significant contribution in either photography or politics would be that I would not deny authorship of a candid snapshot. To quote Batman's spooky growly voice: "What would you have me do?"
When the furor blows over and bloggers can again focus on, you know, the economy, health care, education, foreign policy, and energy, this blog will continue with its normal course: pictures of architecture with academic rambling that only five people care about; and pictures of days spent with my family and friends...including any future picnics at the rock quarry. It was, after all, a really lovely afternoon.