Tuesday, March 4, 2008

So What's Up With the USMC Anyway?

It's awfully interesting what provokes people. News of the day is a video (now pulled from YouTube) filmed by a Marine of his buddy tossing a puppy off a cliff. Considering we have recently heard accusations of US Marines killing civilians in front of their children, raping little girls, even raping and murdering their pregnant comrades, this comes as no great shock to my system.

(Then again, teenagers do mean things to animals for fun in all sorts of contexts, and no branch of any military has a monopoly on rape, torture, murder or general meanness. So let's not lose our perspective.)

Here's what does surprise me: this story made headlines fast and stuck. Compare this to videos circulated on the Internet in 2004 of US Marines raping Iraqi women in detention. No huge media frenzy there. Hmm. As Webscout at the LA Times puts it:

"There's a debate to be had about where the death of a puppy lies along the spectrum of war horrors, and why a video like this can gain wide online attention when other outrageous footage -- say, involving the death of humans -- is only rarely circulated."

Another surprise: the swift and categorical action taken by the Corps. In a statement released today, the Corps referred to the video as "shocking and deplorable," and launched an investigation.

All fine and well, but isn't this is the same institution that covered up the massacre of civilians at Haditha for months, and sat on the Abu Ghraib photographs for almost a year. (Excellent discussion of this history in a recent Frontline.)

So, what's up with the Marines? And what's up with popular sentiment? The same American public that is now deploring all soldiers as "puppy killers" hemmed and hawed when news of My Lai broke. I'm not defending the puppy-pitcher. I'd just like to see the same kind of black-listing when our soldiers commit actual war crimes.

1 comment:

Cleitus the Black said...

Great Zeus, people!

From the uproar this snippet of dubious film-making has incurred, one would suppose that this was the first time an American ever killed a dog. Ballocks! If in fact, a real canine was killed in the making of this video, it's nothing compared to the 2.7 MILLION dogs killed on an annual basis by the inaptly named American Humane Society... Oh, no, you say? There's a big difference between being dashed against a rock, and being suffocated as deadly gases enter your lungs, or a cocktail of drugs induces a heart attack? The former is "mean, just mean", while the latter is quick and painless, and, oh, wait. No it's not... The courts have suspended the use of such techniques on humans, ruling that death comes neither swiftly nor painlessly. And at any rate, dead is dead. And film is film. And last time I checked, you can't believe everything you see on film; or should we arrest director Zack Snyder ("300") for mass murder?

"...but, this, this is madness!"
"NO! This is SPARTA!"

Ummm, sorry Zack, that appears to be the gory death of a few hundred Greeks and a few thousand Persians. We'll have to ask you to come with us...

...at any rate, supposing there were anything inherently wrong with killing any creature weaker than oneself (if it's OK to kill a cockroach, or dissect a frog, eat a cow, or slaughter fish, fowl, and game for sport, why not kill a dog? Why not kill a person, if, for example, you're a Blackwater employee and know that you can't be charged?) - but in any case IF there were anything wrong with this, aren't Americans still considered guilty until proven innocent?

Not if they're US Marines or Duke University lacrosse players, they're not.

The rape charge against the Marine on Okinawa? Dropped. No sign of sexual activity. The oaf was a pervert, but not a rapist. The suspected killer of the unfortunate Lance Corporal Lauterbach? Still at large, and while circumstantial evidence is strong, well, it was strong with OJ, too.

If you can believe the numbers, about 800 women are raped, 50 people are murdered, and 3700 dogs are killed EVERY DAY in the United States. Considering that Marines make up about 1/10th of 1 percent of the entire population, your chances of falling victim to one of these rascals, whether you're a dog, or a potential murder or rape victim, are considerably lower than the chances that you'll get your unhappy ending courtesy of a family member, a friendly veterinarian, a guy you know, or just some wierdo off the street.

But every once in a while, when a Marine is merely ACCUSED of doing something bad (and by "bad", I don't mean shooting, dismembering or burning another human being to death, that's generally part of the job description) - it's big news, everyone starts gnashing their teeth and pulling their hair, and the powers-that-be in the Marine Corps, instead of saying "They're trained killers, we deliberately break down their natural conditioning against homicidal and psychopathic impulses, what the f*@k did you expect?" instead bows and scrapes, and puts the 99.99% of the Corps that did nothing wrong on lockdown.

Which only really serves to protect the Marines, because statistically speaking, the average Marine is in much greater danger of being murdered or raped by their fellow Americans; and with about 4.5 million dog bites reported annually in the US, it would probably be a good idea to keep Marines away from dogs in general. Not for the dogs sake, but for the Marines.

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