Phil Zimbardo sent me this email and Brian Willson allowed me to post it here.

Hi Prof. Zimbardo,
I have enjoyed and appreciated your insights in “The Lucifer Effect”.

This question relates to the photo on page 463 (of the paper edition I possess) of the “Heroic Chinese student ‘Tank Man’ facing down Amy tanks”.  At the time US President Bush called the Chinese man a hero.  I am currently completing my political memoirs  and I have thought it would be good to include the same photo in my book, juxtaposing it with another photo of the US military munitions train at Concord, CA Naval Weapons Station on September 1, 1987, that ran over and attempted to kill a similar effort to block its movement.  In the latter case, the speed limit was 5 mph, and nonviolent blocking efforts had been routine.  The train, of course, always stopped per regulations and common sense, awaiting either Navy Marines or local police to physically remove the “protesters”.  On September 1, 1987, the train not only did not stop  as was SOP, but it accelerated to 17 mph (FBI report) as it barreled through the three US military veterans who were sitting or crouched on the tracks in efforts to at least momentarily stop the train.  One veteran leaped to the left, another leaped straight up and grabbed the cow catcher railing on the front of the locomotive where two train spotters were standing watching the entire sage doing nothing to stop.  The third, myself, went under and was nearly killed (murdered), and suffered a fractured skull and two amputated legs below the knee.

Concord Naval Weapons Station was the largest pentagon munitions depot on the West Coast, and supplied most of the napalm for VN, and most of the munitions used in Central America during  Reagan’s wars on the poor in the 1980s.

The Reagan administration of course did not call me a hero, as Bush would later the Chinese tank man, but instead a domestic terrorist suspect who planned to “hijack” the train.  Of course, this will be included in my memoirs now nearly completed.

Thus my wish to juxtapose the two photos.  But I wonder how you received permission to use the photo, or is it considered in the public domain?  I understand that there were at least two photographers who captured that picture from slightly different angles, one from the Associated press, the other from Magnum Photos.

S. Brian Willson

What’s your reaction to this difference in definitions?

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