Overheard on CNN.com: Marine urination video draws thousands of story comments
A video purporting to show U.S. Marines urinating on dead bodies has sparked a huge conversation on CNN.com.
January 12th, 2012
03:43 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Marine urination video draws thousands of story comments

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community. Due to the provocative nature of this story, comments on this post will be disabled at the end of the day.

The story of a video purporting to show U.S. Marines urinating on dead bodies has generated thousands of fiery comments. Our readers were split between those who were outraged by this action on the deceased, and those who felt we should not be too quick to condemn the soldiers. One one hand, the commenters suggested we could be arming oppositional groups with fodder for anti-U.S. rhetoric. But there were many who said the video is a coarse reflection of the brutality of war and didn't want people to feel negatively about the military.

Shock, outrage over Marine urination video

We've seen a pretty even split of comments, with outrage and frustration expressed on all sides. Here's some of them. For example, this reader says this video, if real, shows an isolated event.

Dhamre: "A handful of young Marines did something really stupid and decided to film it. This isn't the defining moment of our history, or a reflection of all men and women in uniform."

Below is a sampling of some of the discussion we saw about whether the stresses of war help explain the Marines' actions.

Wilburchitow: "To all those who want to try and morally equivocate please stop. Yes we know the enemy has done far worse, but it is no excuse to partake in these types of actions. Our military is better than this and I know when found they will face justice!"

Allfight: "Maybe. But I hope they go very easy on them because they are doing a job that few can do let alone will do. They probably lost friends along the way. Like it or not. It's natural to hate someone that is trying to kill you. Anyone who says otherwise probably was never in that situation."

The following reader said she had lost a loved one in war, and felt the urination incident was an insult to the sacrifices the military makes.

boobush: "Sad that many of you missed a basic grade-school lesson of two wrongs not making a right. I am not a naive bleeding heart here; someone I loved very much was shot dead by a sniper in Iraq almost 7 years ago. My life is forever changed. However, someone urinating on a dead body will never bring him back. This is just another propaganda tool for the Taliban, and we just gave it to them. I would hope we would strive to be better than our enemy."

Matt6571: "Good Call. I've been around the military my whole life as well. Growing up and serving the last 22 years myself. I have lost friends in this war and have been there three times. You have my respect and appreciation."

boobush: "Thank you. I understand people have hard feelings here, but I feel so strongly about this. It is much harder to not act this way. I come from a military family, and have the utmost respect for all who serve. This is not a way to honor those who have served; especially not those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Of course, we are all entitled to our opinion."

But this commenter dared his fellow writers to endure the realities of war.

Midnitejax: "To all of you that are 'outraged' or consider this barbaric I say this: Put your boots on and climb into the sand box. When you have been in combat for a few weeks, and you smell of urine, sweat, and the blood from you or a fellow soldier then talk about the humanity of war. When you see children and corpses used as road blocks for IEDs, then talk about the humanity of war. When the stench of death permeates the air around you day in and day out, then talk about the humanity of war. Urinating on a deceased enemy that a few minutes earlier was trying to kill you is somehow minute in the scheme of things. Lopping off heads and slitting throats is somehow not barbaric?"

Several readers cited videos that had been released in the past, which showed people including journalist Daniel Pearl being beheaded as cameras rolled. They said this incident is minor in comparison. Others said that doesn't matter because the U.S. military must adhere to a higher standard than the Taliban and al Qaeda.

CrakHedMac: "I remember the string of beheading videos from a couple years ago and I suddenly don't find this urination that bad."

F0st3rs: "U.S. troops are held to a higher standard, even if it hampers their ability to win. Urinating on the corpses of the enemy does not meet that standard or create and advantage to win. It is plain stupid to do it, and even more stupid to video the deed."

This reader said the enemy is ruthless.

shaydenfroyd: "While taking a break from beheading infidels, stoning women and children to death, and blowing-up mosques and burning school houses, a spokesman for Taliban/Pakistani ISI voiced disgust at this 'inhuman' behavior."

But there were several readers who theorized that this video could provide ammunition for the enemy.

PotandKettle: "Just because they choose to behead captives doesn't mean we sink to their level by pissing on their dead. They just made the jobs of those still deployed that much more dangerous by giving hostiles this piece of propaganda to easily recruit more to their cause. How to you convince somebody whose country your occupying, that you have their best intentions in mind when there is a video circulating around of somebody wearing your same uniform pissing on their fellow man's corpse? Forget American law, forget the UCMJ, if this is found to be legit, these individuals need to be handed over to Afghanistan authorities. Complete disgrace to those serving and those who have served."

Some of the responses came from people claiming to be military veterans. These readers had very diverse and divergent views about the video, with some saying it's understandable in the harsh environment of war and others feeling the footage is a disgrace to people in uniform.

Guest: "I am a veteran, come from a long line of military, have family members actively serving, some in the Middle East. I was expecting some comments in support of this vile behavior, but I am shocked at the number of people defending these soldiers. 'But what about the beheadings?' they say? Well I'll tell you about them, they are on the same spectrum of indecency, immorality and disrespect as this disgusting behavior. Blind nationalists spout, 'We support our troops no matter what!' Like that is to be admired and Americans can do no wrong. Ignorance and stupidity is what that is. Same as with the pics out of Abu Ghraib a few years ago. When we bring ourselves to the same level as our 'enemy' we are no better than they are. And guess what, we are not better than they are. I do not want my country's troops performing acts like these in my name. Bottom line, at the risk of being cliche, 'two wrongs still don't make a right' and only morons and those with a low moral compass believe that they do. These soldiers should be punished, it is absolutely shameful and doesn't reflect decent human codes of behavior during peace or war time."

pdough: "Guest - I doubt you are a veteran. But even if you are, it doesn't make you right in your opinion, which you are certainly not. I'm also a veteran and I can tell you that what you witnessed on the video were a group of young warriors who were simply exemplifying comradarie and a complete disdain for a cowardly enemy after disposing of them as a mortal threat on the battlefield. It's not blind nationalism but true patriotism from which those posting here in support of the marines are speaking. The military isn't perfect and those in uniform are never beyond reproach. But there comes a time when you have to pick a side, recognize who your team is and hold all criticism until the last bullet is fired. Not to do this only provides moral support and solace to our enemy which is reprehensible and shameful on your part."

nonnobis: "A soldier's job is to obey all lawful orders and maintain the ability to kill and destroy the enemy without remorse or a second thought to the merits of their cause. A soldier must be a fanatical fighting machine both physically and mentally and that means treating the enemy with contempt until they are all vanquished."

Thoughtocrat: "Thanks for your service. Those who are justifying these acts have forgotten our fundamental values, values that make us different from the rest. These marines have essentially recorded a 'recruitment video' for the Taliban and (al Qaeda), and as an American, I am ashamed of their acts."

These readers said we cannot be like the Taliban.

Vynn: "As a career soldier, it has always been my view that my enemy is as committed a soldier to his own nation and cause as I am to mine, and he deserves my deepest respect and just treatment. Soldiers who do not understand this are not soldiers, but are thugs in uniform who should never be allowed to serve in any capacity. I want these men found and court marshalled, and banned from further service, and branded with the dishonorable discharge they have earned by their disgusting actions in this video."

shockerwhoa3: "I can see a lot of people on here just want us to be like the Taliban. Pissing on the dead bodies of the enemy, cutting off the enemy's head, and pretty much everything the Taliban does. We hold ourselves to a higher standard than these terrorists. Time for people to understand that."

ChefCHEESE: "Well said. Most people here dont know any thing about the standards a serviceman/woman needs to hold themselves up to. This is not standard conduct but like in any organization we have a few bad examples and it only take a few to give everyone a bad name. I am sure the Marine corps will do the right thing and punish these four men, as it is their image that is on the line and the whole world is going to be watching."

The discussion turned into a debate about whether war is necessary.

daddy2010: "Consider this: Who forced them to 'boots on and climb into the sand'?"

Guest: "Thanks for perfectly making the case against war. People need to remember what war is really like and what happens to the brave men and women that we send off to fight. The first casualty of war is often our humanity."

Finally, the readers in the following exchange talked about soldiers being small parts of the bigger war.

OmarComin: "If anything, they should urinate on the politicians that betray them and act like they don't exist when they (if they) return from war."

ThomasHenley: "Half of these guys joined the military after playing to much Halo and Call of Duty, and it shows in these guys of actions. They have been bred into a culture of violence and death where humanity is reduced to a one-dimensional representation in their minds. Pretty tragic all the way around."

cordero13: "How do you know this is how they grew up? Why not say thank you to the servicemen that fight for your freedom. Yeah, some do stupid things, but not all."

What do you think about this video? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Please note that discussion on this post will be disabled at the end of the day. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Marines • Military • Overheard on CNN.com
soundoff (235 Responses)
  1. Portland tony

    Remember this is war. Ironically, you may have to hurt, maim, kill or blow up the enemy into unrecognized body parts, yet to show disrespect to a dead man who just tried to kill you is "shocking". Some times it seems the inmates are running the asylum. Pretty it's not. But neither is war or putting a buddy in a body bag!

    January 12, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • James M

      The element of making a video during a combat mission and posting it to YouTube is way more serious than the urination incident. Whatever Bradley Manning is guilty of, these men are also guilty of. It is simply not allowed, and is literally a violation of a very specific standing order, to make and post this video.

      January 16, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. okaytopee

    It's okay for our government to give grants to artist who paint Jesus Christ or the Pope in a glass of urine.

    But, it is a crime for marines to relieve themselves on terrorist graves.

    Double standard?

    Make a call....

    January 12, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andie

      to okaytopee
      Uhhh NO, NOT at ALL!! wow.

      January 12, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. whiterun gaurd

    I used to be the first to comment...until I took an arrow the knee

    January 12, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jojo

    Isn't that part of the ...".... shock and awe" strategy? ?

    January 12, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. chrissy

    True Portland Tony, however its disrepectful to the human race as a whole. And the MARINES have been portrayed as the ELITE force of our military which makes this most unbecomming to the US! Glad my sister is in the AIR FORCE, i would hate to disown her!

    January 12, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      A political war is disrespectful to the human race. There are no rules in combat, no rights or wrongs, only kill or be killed. The sooner the politicians realize that, they may think differently about shipping America's finest to the killing fields!

      January 12, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jojo

    But the bullet holes in their head don't bother anybody ...... lol..... :-)......really? ?

    January 12, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • okaytopee

      Good aim.. Otherwise they might point the urine towards their ears.

      Not worried about how the enemy feels or thinks about us.

      Better to use drones... They don't p

      January 12, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Look at the bright side...they could of decapitated them and used thier heads as Humvee hood ornamints. Don't ever think that this has never happened in war before.

    January 12, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • okaytopee

      Oh, the MAD MAX approach.

      January 12, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. bubba®

    The countries of Iraq and Afghanistan noe need new Constitutions..

    Why don't we just give them ours?

    We don't use it anymore anyway. 🙂

    January 12, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. bubba®

    If I kill u , I can pi$$ on you too

    January 12, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Pete/Ark

    They are being identified,they will be investigated,they will be charged. Thier trial...and (if justified..) sentencing will be carried out by Marines who are all too familiar with combat. No kangaroo court...no whitewash...no theatrics...only systematic justice. All the rants from all sides are immaterial.

    January 12, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • okaytopee

      My commandor told me to dig a latrine. So, we did. Can't help if it was already occupied.

      Who side are you on anyway?

      January 12, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • okaytopee

      Our commandor told them to build a latrine. Can't help if was already occupied.

      Who side are you on anyway? Ron Paul supporter?

      January 12, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      You forget that the Secretary of Defense was shocked and appalled.

      January 12, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pete/Ark

      Marine...and wouldn't vote that whiner if you tried to pay me.

      January 12, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • James M

      The incarceration and/or discharge from the Corps will probably be a relief after they have to get the earful from the senior officer who will undoubtedly be a severe disciplinarian type. At the end of the day, these men disobeyed orders (posting combat videos on YouTube being a one-way ticket, regardless of the content.) The elements of disrespecting their commanders (I'm sure there's a 1stLt who did not give any order to urinate on these corpses!) puts them in an even more harsh situation. The oldest of them is 19, which absolutely means they are within their first enlistment, and probably have nowhere to be busted down to. I don't see any insignia, but how could any of them be above Lance Cpl?

      January 16, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  11. spanky

    if you try to kill me and i kill you first, i see nothing wrong with they did.

    January 12, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. bobcat (in a hat)©

    The Few, The Proud, The Marines.

    Yeah it really makes a nation proud to see our elite troops acting in this manner. And Portland Tony, I don't give a damn that this is war. You don't desecrate the dead. I bet you'd be really happy if were them being shown pissing on our boys. Pick a side dude.

    January 12, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. bobcat (in a hat)©

    The Few, The Proud, The Marines.

    Yeah it really makes a nation proud to see our elite troops acting in this manner. And Portland Tony, I don't give a damn that this is war. You don't desecrate the dead. I bet you'd be really happy if were them being shown pis sing on our boys. Pick a side dude.

    January 12, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • okaytopee

      @Bob

      pick a side... You have nerve.

      Those barbaric savages behead our people on TV and broadcast it on the internet. Give me a break. Pick a side.

      Drone them back into the stone age... Justice....

      January 12, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • okaytopee

      Pick a side...

      These barbarics behead our people and broadcast on the internet.

      Drone them back to the stone age.

      You pick a side bro....

      January 12, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. just eye

    The taliban wouldn`t have even seen the video had we not spammed it on the news all day... America is full of "slow" people.

    January 12, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. saywhat

    When we are desperately trying to engage Talibans in peace talks to form an exit strategy, this happens.
    This in no way helps our efforts in that region, to the contrary it makes the task of our field commanders even more difficult.

    January 12, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
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