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The Lynndie England pose (also known as “doing a Lynndie”) is a photo fad in which the subject points to another individual while making a thumbs-up gesture with a small cylindrical object dangling from the mouth. The fad was inspired by a famous photograph of former U.S. Army Private Lynndie Rana England pointing at a detainee of Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Lynndie England is a former Army private in the 372nd Military Police Company who was one of the 11 military personnel involved in torturing and abusing prisoners of war in the Abu Ghraib prison during the Iraq War. On April 28th, 2004, the CBS News program 60 Minutes reported on the abuse showing photos of the incident including a picture of Lynndie England pointing to an unnamed prisoner who had been stripped naked and forced to masturbate with a bag placed over his head.
In August of 2004, the British blog Bad Gas created a page for “doing a Lynndie” that included the following instructions:
1. Find a victim who deserves to be “Lynndied”.
2. Make sure you have a friend nearby with a camera ready to capture the “Lynndie”.
3. Stick a cigarette (or pen) in your mouth and allow it to hang slightly below the horizontal.
4. Face the camera, tilt your upper body slightly forward but lean back on your right leg.
5. Make a hitchhiking gesture with your right hand and extend your right arm so that it’s in roughly the same position as if you were holding a rifle.
6. Keeping your left arm slightly bent, point in the direction of the victim and smile.
The blog BoingBoing posted an article titled “Stealth Lynndie-ing” that included a link to the Bad Gas page on August 18th, 2004. On August 30th, a “doing a Lynndie” photo competition thread was started on the political forum Democratic Underground. A Flickr photo sharing group for “Doing the Lynndie” was created on September 4th. An Urban Dictionary defintion for “doing a Lynndie” was submitted on September 28th. A Facebook group for Lynndie England posed photos was created on November 10th, 2006 and has accumulated 46 members as of November 28th, 2011.
On September 26th, 2005, England was sentenced to 3 years in prison after being convicted of 1 count of conspiracy, 4 counts of maltreating detainees and 1 count of commiting an indecent act. On March 25th, 2007, the Cumberland Times reported that England had been released on parole after serving 521 days. A biography of England titled Tortured: Lynndie, England, Abu Ghraib and the Photographs that Shocked the World was published on May 1st, 2009. On June 29th, 2009, the Associated Press published an article explaining how England had been coping with life after being released from prison.
England, who’s put on a little weight and let her hair grow since mugging for the camera, says she struggles with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. Antidepressants help, and she has learned to deal with personal insults much as she dealt with the horrors of war: She just got used to it.
Search queries for “lynndie england” peaked shortly after the Abu Ghraib torture photos were released in May of 2004.
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