Bob Shell: Photographer’s Language and Thought Police

A young woman wearing a fetish outfit corset with spikes high boots and long barrel pistol
Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2022

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2022


Photographer’s Language and Thought Police


Now photographers are being singled out by the ‘thought police.’ According to a new ‘Oppressive Language List’ put out by the administration at Brandeis University, we’re no longer supposed to say we ‘shot’ a photo, did a photo ‘shoot’, or took a ‘shot’ at something. We’re  not supposed to say we ‘triggered’ a camera or a flash, because the words ‘shoot,’ ‘shot,’ ‘trigger,’ etc., all have gun associations. 

This is not just for photographers, they say. We’re also not supposed to say ‘killing it’ for doing well at something.  Australians will have to no longer use ‘shoot through’ as slang for dying.  Apparently, guns are such nasty, evil things, and all references to them, even oblique, must be expunged from our language. 

Now, I’m not a gun fanatic, like people I know who have personal arsenals, but before my arrest, I did have a Remington single-shot, bolt-action .22 rifle, a single-barrel .410 gauge shotgun, and a 9 mm semiautomatic Beretta pistol. The shotgun was a gift from my grandfather who used to go dove hunting with it until he was shamed into quitting hunting by members of his congregation. You see, he was a Methodist minister and some of his flock disapproved of a minister hunting. The only times I ever fired it were to shoot at tin cans I threw into the air. I’m not a hunter, but I am open minded enough not to hassle friends who are. This world has room.for both. 

My rifle and pistol were both gifts from my father. I used them only for target practice, and became a pretty good shot. Both are being held for me by a friend until I can get my ridiculous conviction overturned. 

I’m not in favor of government gun control, because I’ve lived in countries that have it, and my harmless plinking away at targets would have been very difficult, or impossible there. 

The purpose of the United States Constitution and its Amendments is to limit government, not empower it. Those wise founders of this republic had lived under repressive monarchy and never wanted it rearing its ugly head here. 

But, right now as a convicted felon, if I get out I can’t own any guns, I can’t exercise that right granted to me, not by government, but by the Constitution. 

I was convicted in state court. Gun ownership is a Federal right. Will someone please explain to me how a state can trump the Federal Constitution. The same goes for voting in Federal elections, which I can’t do now. All citizens were given rights by the Bill of Rights, which was added to the Constitution to spell out our rights and guarantee them against government intrusion. Somehow those guarantees have been diluted. 

A great man once shouted, “Give me liberty or give me death!” We got the latter.


About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models.  He is serving the 15th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read Bob Shell’s, first essay on civil war, click here:

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