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. Cory (Humanzrstupd)

    They should have taken a DUMP on them as well. The marines should get off. My opinion.

    January 12, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • ???

      Yeah the marines should get off the hook (point taken), but the beginning part you said...not so much. I mean recording that incident was a good idea AND a bad idea. Good idea to expose the near impossible, yet, a really bad idea since that video was posted on Youtube, and well...who knows "who" could be watching...just sayin'

      January 12, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. rebiii

    The comments of people on this forum are more disturbing that what these marines did. Whenever I read one of these, "War is a nasty business!" comments, I picture the dwarf in "High Plains Drifter", puffing a cigar after Clint Eastwood made him Sheriff. Is this really how you make yourself feel big/experienced/knowledgeable/intelligent, by spouting out, "War is a nasty business," as if you know something that the rest of us don't? This incident is not a revelation. Everyone knows that this is business as usual. No need to play condescending and act as if we don't know that war crimes are committed every day, and shrugged off because that's the environment. But wow, the vanity! "Oh ho," said the fly to the chariot wheel. "What a dust we do raise!"

    January 12, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • ???

      Yeah, I wouldn't be surprised if things like this did happen everyday. I hate to say this, but I guess we have to deal with these things one incident at a time I suppose...maybe...

      January 12, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. chrissy

    I lost a sister and brother in law on the 9/ll massacre and very nearly lost my daughter and son in law, and i still cant see that fact justifying this!! Its disgusting and then to display their stupidity on the internet is just evil and morally wrong!!!

    January 12, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. bigwilliestyles

    I remember Somalian 'soldiers' burning American soldiers corpses and dragging them through the streets. I also remember American outrage at these 'savages' that would dare to 'desecrate the bodies of our brave young men' that extended all the way to the halls of congress. Is this act of desecration somehow not the work of 'savages'? Is desecrating a corpse only permissible when we are the desecraters? Or is it just wrong, no matter who's doing it?

    January 12, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. chrissy

    Bad enough those MARINES stooped to the very pit of those we are at war with but they had to record it, and put it on the internet??? what the hell kinda thought process was that? Kinda tosses out any kinda leverage we may have had on the *rules of war*

    January 12, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • ???

      Even worse that they put their own lifes in grave danger to begin with by posting that video on the internet!

      January 12, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marshall

      Chrissy
      I served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam war and I can tell you this, don't judge unless you've been through combat I say piss on the Taliban. These guys just did that literally.

      January 12, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bigwilliestyles

    I remember the 'outrage' that came behind the people of Somalia desecrating the corpses of American soldiers. They were called 'savages' and worse, all the way to the halls of congress. This is different from that in what way? Because we're on the other end of the gun this time? I think not. @rebiii: spot on.

    January 12, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. bigwilliestyles

    And how is this different from what was done to American soldiers in Somalia a few years back? You know, when those s.a.v.a.g.a.s dragged the bodies of 'our brave boys' through their streets? Remember? How the 'outrage' reached the halls of congress? This is different how?

    January 12, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. STLHAUNTER

    i dont understand why people made such a big deal out of those marines who pissed on the dead extremist bodies. So your allowed to kill the enemy, but not piss on em? That makes no sense to me. Fuck you sensitive America! War is brutal theres nothing pleasant about it. SO don't go discharging someone for pissing on dead bodies. If those extremist were still alive they'd probably take the pissing on then losing there life. Once again fuck sensitive America!

    January 12, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. chrissy

    And also brings to mind a bit done by George Carlin about oxy-morons! One on the list was MILITARY INTELLIGENCE!!! This was a stupid act that served no purpose except make these persons look stupider than the act! Congradulations, IDIOTS!!

    January 12, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dave Esser

    I've tried five times to get my comment posted. CNN = CENSORSHIP

    January 12, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • nsaidi

      Nope, just our spam filter. I just pushed out your comment.

      January 12, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dave Esser

    Why is anyone outraged at the Marines behavior. I am not. I have not walked one step in their boots. I have no idea about what they've seen the taliban do to their fellow marines or innocents. Many think they should be severely punished. I do not. How is it that we tell them it is fine to kill the enemy with all the firepower possible, but if you piss on them, well you've just crossed the line now! The only line being crossed here is the one that separates us from the strange world of Alice in Wonderland. The suggestion that we now punish these guys we've conditioned to kill without remorse, must be coming from the mindless minions of the crazy Queen as she shouts "Off with their heads!" (Which when committed by the Muslim radicals is far less offensive to the mainstream media than the obvious ritual cleansing these Marines are administering). To wit, there is absolutely no moral equivalency between pissing on a dead body and brutally cutting off a living persons head.

    January 12, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cory (Humanzrstupd)

      Agreed.

      January 12, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. chrissy

    Its NOT different bigwillies, which is my point!!! If the shoe is on the other foot, so to speak, the US population does not hesitate to cry foul! In the future, thanks to these wonderful young men, we wont have a leg to stand on, now will we??

    January 12, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. chrissy

    No i did not fight in combat, but my father fought and my sister just did so im not an idiot! I still no the difference between right and wrong and i also know disgusting when i hear it!

    January 12, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. scott gr.

    overall i'm a peaceful person. just looking at the video is not fair to the soldiers. afterall, this is war(or at least for the soldiers whose life is on the line). there are many things that happen in war more horrific than this. if a lean, mean, american killing machine needs to vent by acting like this,let them be. its better off they dont think of these carcases as people, so they can continue doing the job they are sent to do. just dont get caught on camera. be safe soldiers!

    January 12, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rob

    It's a shame. What a waste of perfectly good marine p iss on this filfth.

    January 12, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
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