Great shot or no a very poor shot for the following photographic reasons . That's about as far as the discussion can go without at least touching on matters that are connected with feelings about war
I don't feel that way. I think that one can reflect on the relationship between that image and the context it was taken in, without having the debate devolve into political statements of a problematic nature.
What we trigger on mostly as moderators is if discussions involve politics and policy in a normative fashion
. And it turns out that for the vast majority of people, it's difficult or even impossible to reflect on something without being normative about it. For illustration there's a clear distinction between the following statements:
"The 1000 yard stare image conveys the personal drama that's inherent to a war that turned out to be nightmare more so than the fighting parties were prepared for, and it captures that drama in the eyes of a single individual that in some way we can all relate to."
"The 1000 yard stare shows how wrong the US were in trying to invade Vietnamese territory because by doing so the US just made the lives of many people miserable and it illustrates how Nixon's politics were abject in how they revolved around nurturing and protecting the military-industrial complex. The photo shows how the common man was the main victim of the inherently criminal nature of Republican policy."
The first statement would be a perfectly OK reflection that we, moderators, would likely leave alone just fine. That someone points out how the horrors of war manifest themselves in an image, and the degree of effectiveness to which the image captures them, is not inherently problematic. In fact, I think it's a useful observation that can be discussed in a relevant way.
The second statement we would see as problematic as it takes a clear position in a political debate and is guaranteed to act as an invitation for people with a different opinion to debate the issue. In fact, it is such a problematic statement that I hesitate to post it here even as an example with a clear indication that it is just an example
. (and it does not express my views - it really is just a synthetic example, to be perfectly clear)
Because so many people struggle with making a distinction between neutrally reflecting on political context and proclaiming a political preference, we err to the side of safety and quench discussions that move towards the political fairly early.
The matter is of course complicated by the fact that it's not always such a clear-cut case as I've shown above. Of course, that example is a deliberately amplified one. In reality, the normative judgement or personal preference/position will be visible in more subtle terms/formulations. I suppose as moderators, we are relatively sensitive to such signals.
So what you call 'feelings' is indeed (I think) what we trigger on, but I wouldn't call them 'feelings'. Most feelings that people would express, we're totally fine with. See the first example - it revolve very strongly around feelings if you think about it. But when those 'feelings' are in fact normative statements about political preferences (and by extension, policy, legislature, policy implementation, legal enforcement etc.), then we generally quench and redact because from experience, we know that things tend to get heated.
The same applies to religion, but for some reason, on this forum, people are less liable to discuss this topic. I'm not sure why this is the case, while politics (and associated domains) continues to be a lure that some can't resist to venture into from time to time. But I think you can easily extend the example above to, let's say, the religious context of the iconic Nat. Geo. / Steve McCurry 'Afghan girl' photo. It's straightforward to come up with one way of reflecting on that religious context without it being problematic, and a way to make such a reflection very problematic and incendiary indeed.
I hope this somehow helps to understand why we do what we do. The underlying principle is always that we try to help people to interact peacefully and respectfully with each other. It's a deliberate choice that we choose to suppress some expressions in exchange for a more harmonious forum. In the end, a forum, and especially this one, revolves around information exchange. We have the firm belief that successful information exchange and conflict are at odds with each other.