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. chris

    I think they should drop a deuce in their mouths next time....something to look foward to...

    January 12, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. RetiredMarine

    All of you people talking down about these Marines, NONE OF YOU know what they went through that day, who they saw killed, multilated, raped etc...... I am not saying I agree with their actions but I do understand. I do not feel they should be ridiculed and punished like they just raped a 5 year old. A simple reduction in rank and restriction to the barracks should be enough, but all of you "do gooders" on here who never have been to war or were too much of a coward to volunteer to go sit here and pass judgement over these photos (who for the record shouldn't even be on CNN) are making it hard for their commanders to give them the slap on the wrist I am saying they sould get. These are young men who will have to one day be introduced back into our society. Why are you all convicting them over a war time action, which to be REALLY BLUNT is very small compared to the things I have personally seen and experienced on the part of the Taliban and others over there fighting our young Men. Get it together people, they are fighting for you and the freedoms you enjoy!

    January 12, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marshall

      I'm with you retired. Did my turn in Vietnam in the USMC. Don't judge unless you've had your feet on the ground over there.

      January 12, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bill

    combat wounded vietnam veteran here. you politicians send us to fight a war. and than you condem us for what the war does to us. so what they urinated on some enemy of ours.stop with this so called moral behavior in war. there is none when you have to kill. their our enemy. get it. do you think for one minute they dont do anything far worse than this to our soldiers. america is dead! if we dont start putting the fear back into some of these low life countries like it use to be years ago than we'll continue to die. im beginning to hate this country for having no back bone anymore. its weak. just like you politicians. i wish our founding fathers would crawl from their graves and urinate on all of you, and blow all you weak leaders to hell. america wont die as a strong counrty. its gonna die being controlled by leaders who dont lead. leaders who are afraid of the special interest that line your pockets with money. your'e all weak. go to war and fight the enemy and youll see, but none of you have the balls. yes, im an angry american!!!

    January 12, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • chris

      You tell em brother.... they are all gutless whimps!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      January 12, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. gsgofer

    IT"S WAR!!!!! Whoever said there was anything civilized about war? Get over it people and thank those boys for serving their country. probably half those holding their mouths in horror have fathers who collected ears in Nam! Maybe even Greatgrandfathers who skinned indian breasts at Wounded Knee to make tobacco pouches. There is no good reason to punish those boys so get over the self-richeousness. If you don't want things like this to happen, STOP HAVING WARS!

    January 12, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Hien

    It's regrettable but understandable by watching the photo. I personally do not like the media to make a big deal out of it. This reflects me to the Vietnam war era. The media showed picture of a police general shot a VC in the head in Saigon, a naked girl running on the street, and some other horrible photos. Sure, they were big news then. The photos were capitalized by VC to ask for sympathy internationally and propaganda. South Vietnam and US did not collapse militarily, they fell because VC knew how to capitalize something like this using media then. I just don't want the enermy doing the same thing.

    January 12, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. justin

    There are no words to rationalize the stupity of men and women...those at war fighting and those sitting home watching the results of war from the comfort of their homes. There is nothing that makes us so good as when someone does something we do not understand that does not seem right. We owe them a debt of gratitude for them for causing us all to be better than we were before this happened. It took so little effort on our part.

    January 12, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. james smalley

    To CNN News
    don't forget that Eisenhower signe 69 capital punishments after D-Day in Europe When you have an administration that does not think we are an exceptional nation you will get incidents that are the norm and not good and exceptional. Thanks

    January 12, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jaybird

    When you got to go, you got to go.

    January 12, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Owdowd

      Too bad comedian Bill Hicks isn't alive today as I would have loved to hear his commentary on this.

      January 12, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • effjay

      I agree. I don't see the issue here. You think stuff like this didn't happen in other wars? Please people, wake up. War is war, many American bodies have been pissed on also.

      January 12, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. John_Dunkel

    Urinating on a dead taliban does not meet our human rights standard but shooting and killing them does. This means those marines will be held accountable for – now listen to this – not killing those taliban, but peeing on them. Welcome to the human race. xD

    January 12, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • 20 Year Vet

      Well, that's what we get for having a President who is actively giving away America to his Muslim Brotherhood pals across the pond. O'bummer is a weak, lilly-livered simp who needs to be FIRED next November. We are suffering under the worst President EVER to hold office. He couldn't lead a horse to water. He is all about building up his ego, and protecting his assets while he gives away the rest of the country. O'dummer is only about O'dummer, he doesn't care for America, he doesn't care for the troops, he only cares about himself. We need to CHANGE, and HOPE him and his liberal n'erdowells never again are handed the reigns of power. Next time, let's judge a man on his character, NOT on the color of his skin.....

      January 12, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maj Jackson

      so you say that urinating on a deab body does not go beyond the necessary killing of war? you clearly have no concept of the purpose of war. We are not trying to degrade the enemy we are trying to win. urinatin on them does not help, it actually kills us, many times over.

      January 12, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. KCChiefs

    I am a proud american and an educated medical doctor.This incident that we heard is the one of the few ones that come to public. I work in a mental hospital with many veterans. Some of them tell me many rapes that our soldiers commit. I had a veteran patient who witnessed his fellow marine rape an 8 year old Afghani girl.I have some patients that i am treating who have killed civilians just for fun.

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

    How about all you liberal media reporters go over there and see how you like seeing your friends die and try not doing this. War affects the mind, but I guess you can't see that cause you don't have any.

    January 12, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. i don't get it

    Cnn post about this video, but has nothing in about 2 days last week when 8soldires were kiled ina 2 day period via IEDs, unbelivable!! CNN post nothing when Afghan soldiers turn there weapons on American and French soldiers bu tthis they post. This peopel get irate about. You go tto be kiddingme

    January 12, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maj Jackson

      Mssing the point. There are 2 isssues--, 1-Moral and 2-Strategic. MORAL – There are strong arguments for both sides. Pissing on the enemy could be justified based on their worse actions.

      STRATEGIC – There is possible way that this helps US. The Marines should no better, because they are trained in both physical and psychologicl warfare. Do you think this will make more or less people hate us?

      January 12, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. 20 Year Vet

    Nobody complained when the bodies of U.S. civilian contractors were mutilated in public by the Taliban! War is Hell – to quote General Sherman (who burned much of Georgia 130 years ago in an effort to speed up the end of the war). Paul Tibbits hated war and never regretted dropping the atom bomb at Hiroshima. These Marines should be left alone, or given medals. War is Hell. It is easy for fat, pasty-white politicians to sit back and complain, their lives are not in danger daily (except maybe from the shellfish in the Congressional cafeteria...). Leave the Marines alone.

    January 12, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • JustWho

      Sure glad I didn't have to be around you during my 28 years of service. You sound just as bad and reprehensible.

      January 12, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Kevin

    Of course it's wrong. All of the people saying its not a big deal would be clamoring for revenge if this was Al Qaeda urinating on one of our dead soldiers. It's hard to justify that we have the moral high ground considering this, Abu Ghraib, etc. The Taliban did not attack us on 9/11. We should have left them alone.

    January 12, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Chan

    @John_Dunkel... Shooting and killing is being done to protect yourself. Peeing after one is dead... !!!!immoral... and illegal.... People with that frame of mind are dangerous.

    January 12, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
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