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. Larry F

    Who cares, in Vietnam we used to burn the bodies in the village. Walk a mile in their shoes, than comment!!!

    January 12, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bill

    This no doubt will get lots of mileage in the hands of the slimeballs over there as though we're a bunch of doublespeaking, uncouth people. Fact is these guys were likely stressed out and took out their frustrations in an unacceptable way. We can't overlook the fact that they are accustomed to and seem to enjoy a violent lifestyle there and we're making a mistake trying to do what essentially can't be done..bring these people into the 21st century and introduce them to western ideas like democracy, etc. Maybe being confronted daily with their unparalleled barbarism brings out the worst in even civilized people.

    January 12, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Russell Johnson

    Irresponsible reportng to the extreme. You are endangering our troops al over the world.

    January 12, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mmmmm

    FIRST, the Taliban has nothing to say on this matter...their public beheadings, public bombings, and continuing human rights violations and atrocities against women and children are off the scale.

    the dead and living are equally desecrated by war...uncle sam need to stop calling for heads and jail time re-educate the soldiers regarding the dignity of the enemy captured or dead.

    Lastly there should some understanding that injured, capture, and dead are no longer to able to actively participant in war and should be handled dignity...but what can you say when you pull unarmed tyrants out of a hole and shoot them to death without due process or publicly hang and swing, and display their death face as an worldwide spectacle with every military officer dances for joy.

    apparently, golden shower knuckleheads do not discern mix messages very well.

    January 12, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Name*Ibe1978g

    I'm anger that CNN should even put in to print what the Taliban are saying about this because as far as I am concern the Tailban have very little respect for human life and especially women. There for their comments are null a void . The one who put the flim on the Internet I believe should be the one prosecuted . For putting those still there in danger of retribution because of it.

    January 12, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ricardo

    I would pay money to learn why everyone who's asking for these Marines head didn't get this worked up about the burned corpses of Americans hanging off the bridge in Fallujah or the desecrated bodies of the soldiers dragged through the streets of Mogadishu. It's a damn good thing I can't make a call in all this. If I could, I'd be just like the greatest president who ever lived, Harry Truman. I'd light their asses up like runway lights. 24 hours notice for the women and children to pop smoke and scram, then drop a couple of 20 megaton thermonuclears on Afghanistan, Somalia (while I'm there lay waste to the pirates too), and a slap on a million degrees on Iran and anybody else who reared up.

    All kidding aside, what the hell are we still over there for? Bin Laden is dead, the Taliban is asking to detente' so they must be broken down, and Cheney's Halliburton has made more money than Exxon, the Ford Motor Company, and Microsoft combined. There's nothing left to fight for except more greed...

    Oh, excuse me...Did I say that?

    January 12, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cory (Humanzrstupd)

      Totally agree with your first paragraph (and I'm not kidding).

      January 12, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Sal

    All you defenders of these soldier are really stupid! Don't you realize the possible repercussions for their actions? Some dumb comments in here as usual! 

    January 12, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sal

    Hey you, who says nobody here got worked up over those other atrocities? First of all you morons we should have never invaded Iraq to begin with! If we were invaded I would hang the invaders from bridges also! 

    January 12, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. hamsta

    i have an excellent idea:lets just anally impale the enemy and plant them all in the sands of afghanistan.i promise that would end the war.worked great for vladimir dracula!

    January 12, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • ???

      Not for his victims...

      January 12, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Noneofus

    Service members are paid professional soldiers. Professionals show respect to friend and foe alike. Yes you killed the enemy who seconds before killed your buddy, but it could just as easily be you face down in the dirt. Professional soldiers are also paid to be disciplined. Meaning that no matter how much anger sadness you have, you will not let it get in the way of the performance of your duty. Yes the enemy may do far worse things to you but thier actions have no bearing on your honor. Honor no matter the cost, never forsake it. Also remember that there is a price to pay for all the evil things done on the battlefield, and you may find thand that the price is not worth your instant gratification.

    January 12, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • bubba®

      Yes ur right... and that was a professional pi$$ .......ooh rah

      January 12, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. hamsta

    @sal we were attacked u moron.if they didnt want it they shouldve never attacked us.i say u should be the first person to be impaled and planted in the sand in afghanistan

    January 12, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ana

      I really cannot believe you attacted Sal the way you did. That was a vicious thing to say and it reflects on the kind of person you are.

      January 13, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  12. ???

    Ugh, you know, we want to defeat the enemy, not taunt them. What was the point in these soldiers commiting this "indecency?" I would give the person who recorded this a medal for recording this incident (unless that person was in on it too...). The dead always tell a story without saying one...single...word.

    January 12, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. hamsta

    @the next person who says we should not have invaded iraq-by your moronic logic pearl harbor was no reason to enter ww2 and go after hitler.you are an enemy sympathizer and should be the first person to be analy impaled and planted in the sands of afghanistan.

    January 12, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • ???

      "We should have not invaded Iraq?" Oh good! Then that means Saddam Hussien would have gone down with Ghadafi and Mubarak in the Arab Spring, and we would have been finished in Afganistan five years (guesstimate...) after 9/11/01!

      January 12, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. dre

    Who cares

    January 12, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. dre

    To the victor goes the spoils

    January 12, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
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