"Sick." "Insane." "Barbaric." All over Washington yesterday, people shook their heads and used these words to describe the public display in Tehran of the charred bodies of eight American servicemen.
"That's one of the lowest things that can ever be done. I say bomb the bastards," said Charles D. Burnett, a Metrobus driver who was having lunch in a restaurant in Arlington's Parkington shopping center yesterday.
One of his companions, Jesse Good, another Metrobus driver, struggled for words as he added: "That's the lowest . . . lowest . . . it's lower than a snake's body."
At a shopping mall inside the Pentagon yesterday, where anti-nuclear protesters were sitting in, the body display was one subject that the protesters and the military onlookers agreed on.
"That got me, oh jeez. I don't think I've been that angry in a long time.
I just sat in my chair watching the TV and shook," said Airman 1st Class Stuart Kocker, 20.
Kocher had been arguing heatedly with Sandra Piechocki, 23, who was with thte anti-nuclear group. But the argument cooled when the subject of the body display came up.
"I admit, I'm appalled by that," said Piechocki.
"It's revolting, it's inhumane," said Bruce Baechler, who was also with the protest group, the Coalition for a Non-Nuclear World. "The whole hostage thing is inhumane."
In Congress yesterday, Rep. Gladys N. Spellman (D-Md.) wrote letters to President Carter and Treasury Secretary Miller suggesting that pending legislation be amended to permit relatives of the eight dead servicemen to share in claims against Iranian assets in the United States.
In making her proposal, Spellman referred to "the callous display" of the bodies in Tehran.
The display of the bodies and the new intensity of the hostage crisis in general was the talk yesterday in carpools, subway stations and shopping centers and in government and private offices all over the Washington area.
Emerson White, a Government Printing Office employe, said the body display was the "epitome of disgracefulness."
"Sooner or later, this country is going to wonder how far will we go to save 50 people?" said White.
For one Army colonel watching the Pentagon demonstration yesterday afternoon, the question of how far to go was simple.
"I'll tell you one thing, if we're ever turned loose on 'em, God help 'em," said this colonel, who asked not to be identified. He said that "people in this building [the Pentagon] are really stirred up."
They are stirred up to begin with, according to this colonel, because the failure of the raid is "embarrassing as hell" to the military -- and yesterday they were even more stirred up because of the display of the bodies.
But not everyone seemed as outraged as the colonel. Paul Grady, a federal community development worker, said that while the body display was "awful," it wouldn't have happened in the first place if the U.S. had not conducted the raid.
"Will we shed more blood to get 50 people out?" Grady said. "We lost much more than that in Vietnam, much more in all of the other wars."
Grady said the raid was "an excuse for a larger confrontation so that the U.S. military could go in and take over [Iran] to protect big business."
There were some who felt that the bodies should not have been left in Iran.
"They should have brought the bodies back with them," said a man eating lunch yesterday in the cafeteria at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "It makes you wonder about the ability of our military to get things done, especially when you hear recently that the Air Force had to scrap some planes to get parts for others."
The man, who asked not to be identified, added, "I hope to hell nobody attacks us."
Geneva Wilders, a librarian's assistant, discussed the incident with her friend Mattie Johnson yesterday during lunch. She was fearful that the raid action could have precipitated war.
"I felt so awful about it when I heard, I went into prayer," Wilder said. "I think the president thought something good was going to come out of it."
Her friend Johnson was not so supportive of the president.
"The showing of the bodies was inhuman, but what we need now is a stronger and better leader," Johnson said. "I feel that if he was going to have a raid, it should have been sooner. The U.S. is too large to let Iran do that to us. It just makes me angry."
Some people were as shocked by the fact that the display was shown on television as they were by the display itself.
"That sort of thing should not be shown on TV," said Lewis Bucks, the owner of Buck's General Store in Upper Marlboro, Md.
Darlene Brady, a secretary for the Prince George's County government, said the news coverage was "disgusting. It wasn't necessary to show that. The whole reason for the Iranians to show the bodies was to have news media pick it up."
But Raymond Sutton, a contractor from Bowie, said there was nothing surprising in the body display.
"It's just what you'd expect them to do," he said. "They're just trying to show what a big bad boy Uncle Sam is."