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. Tony

    the press really knows how to add fuel to the fire that is already up in flames in the east... this could have been handled through inside channels but the world will now judge us for what these few unprofessionals have done.. and yes that goes to the media to...

    January 12, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mannycl

    It seems like CNN is running out of news. This is war and we cannot start to make look like a Rose Parade. These things happen and people should be looking to what the Taliban do. I just wonder what Zakaria's comments will be to apologize and ask for forgiveness. Get a life.

    January 12, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. M Patterson

    So it's honorable to brutally murder enemy combatants but peeing on them after they're dead crosses some line? I'm not a radical pacifist. I believe some wars need to be fought and that there is nothing more courageous and flat out ballsy than putting your life on the line for such a cause. But let's not forget that while sometimes necessary, war is always grotesque. Compared to widespread death and dismemberment, disrespectful peeing is probably not one of the more messed-up aspects of war.

    January 12, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ronvan

    NO excuse's. Viet Nam 66, body parts were worn as trophies, until we got a LEADER, that told everyone they would be subject to the UCMJ and it stopped! As a ret. 23yr. Army Viet Nam Vet., I do not condone these actions, but you need to remember "War is hell" and WILL dehumanize the strongest of people when you have multiple tours! What is really sad is that this is the Marines, whose traditions and greatness are now shattered.

    January 12, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob Liz

      Your overexaggerating and melodrama must be a hit at all the parties.

      January 12, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jeff

    Funny CNN didn't include any of the many, many bigoted comments that were posted in response to the incident. A lot of comments were just Muslim-bashing, plain and simple (jokes about camels, etc.). I think it's a glaring omission by CNN, considering the frequency of this sort of posting and the prevalence of anti-Muslim fervor in the U.S.

    January 12, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Felines

    All these "pansies" getting their panties in a wad over crude actions by men who have been subjected to a lot worse by our enemies. So what – they urinated on dead bodies. Disrespectful but hardly worth such outrage. Our military "leaders" and political hacks (especially in the Oval Office) are the results of our nanny state. Seems to me I recall our soldiers bodies being draggged through streets in Somalia. Don't recall crocodile tears from these weaklings then. Get a grip! Our leaders are such losers these days.

    January 12, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Nikki

    When you breed war, you breed indecency. What do you people expect of them? You expect them to kill, but not take their anger out on their enemy? An enemy who probably taunted them and was no doubt trying to kill them. You expect humans to suffer the adrenaline rushes of killing another human being, then remember their manners as soon as they are done? Humans should be ashamed to expect other people to do their killing for them and then expect them to act like Mother Theresa afterwards. Stop for a minute and imagine what it would be like to be in their shoes. Imagine for a second what it feels like to kill another human being. Even if you can imagine, it won't even come close to the real thing. I am not a veteran, or ever served in the military. My father and both of my grandfathers are and were veterans. I have heard stories of the nightmares they would have. The nightmares that my father still has. The anger he feels for being drafted and being forced to kill people, which he takes out on his family. His father returning from World War II only to become an alcoholic and spend his nights beating his wife and my dad. You spend a week in their shoes over there and then see how you feel about the video. And don't get me wrong, I don't think what they did is right. I am just saying that what they go through is hard, and their judgement suffers because of it. Doesn't mean they deserve to be punished when they were just fighting someone elses war.

    January 12, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Susan

    So what? Anyone on here remember 9/11? How about Daniel Pearl? I'd pee on 'em myself if given the chance.

    January 12, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Susanne

    Oh how glad I am that there were no instant videos during WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam – it seems to me that this is probably not new. War makes people do stupid things to celebrate survival and let off steam. I just wish no one had been stupid enough to post it.

    January 12, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob Liz

      I couldn't have said it better myself.

      +1

      January 12, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richie

      The stupidity was in the recording of the act and then posting it. Just blame technology for "stupid" being much fasterthan it use to be.

      January 12, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. JohnyJJ

    Sadly these Marines will be put on trial, demoted and probably go to prison. Look what this president & congress do to us, and nothing happens to them. Polititians Are Pussy, These Marines Are Heros !!!

    To tell you the truth, I would rather be pissed on, than put up with the BS from this President & Congress!!

    January 12, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. BUDDY CUJAS

    its time to poop in the mouths of all the media morons trying to make our troops look bad !!!!

    January 12, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Fred Moresby

    Don't judge those young men too harshly. None of us have been there and endured what they have. Personally, I don't have a problem with what they did, too bad it went public.

    January 12, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Sean

    These individual are a disgrace to mankind. They have no honor, Should be locked up in solitary for 10 years and then given lethal injection.

    January 12, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sharon Spangler

      The world is going to hell in a hand basket !!!!!!!!!!

      January 12, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack Ciotuszynski

      Dude, watch "the perfect terrorist" and toward the end when the terrorist tells his men in the jewish temple to shoot the prisoners in the back of the head (which where a husband and wife) and listen to the gun shot, tell me who deserves what. Get a clue you moron!

      January 12, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ME

    Not that the propoganda war wasn't lost already, but at this rate we'll be lucky if we have the moral authority to defend our own country.

    January 12, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bud Tugley

      I think we can all agree if you're *going* to pee on dead people, don't film it

      January 12, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jack Ciotuszynski

    They are the enemy. They had no respect for the people on the planes that flew into the twin towers in New York, nor did they respect the people in the towers nor did they have any respect for the people they murdered in the hotel and jewish temple in Mumbai, India... They deserve what they get, in life and death. This a war, you cannot tell soldiers that you train to kill to act within dignified confines, after all war is cruel and indignified. We make no sence...God bless the Marine Corp and the many innocent victims that cry out for redemption. We have no more ball's in this country...thats why we are a nation of junkies, alcoholics, high school drop outs and people that would rather sit on their butts and collect public assistance rather then work. George Washington, Dr. Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy and all our other great leaders of this once great nation are turning in their graves. America wake up, stop trying to be politically correct all the time.

    January 12, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • LWR

      For all the morans that have not been in the front line have know right committing on anybodys behavior that is or has been facing danger on the front lines. The rag heads are dead who gives a damn.In Nam it was cutting ears off. but those pictures are personal trophies now. Thank heavenswe did not have cell phones back then we would have about 500,000 men still in prison.Hell it's war get over it!

      January 12, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
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