Perfect example of USA's morals being ass-backwards--CAUGHT ON TAPE!!

Recently, a video appeared on YouTube that reportedly shows several U.S. troops urinating on some corpses of Taliban fighters killed by U.S. forces. Not unexpectedly, this video became a big deal and was reported by many media outlets.

This thread has nothing whatsoever to do with the apparent actions of the troops in the video or the reactions this clip received all over the world. This thread is about one specific version of the video that was displayed by the Huffington Post (and perhaps other media outlets–I don’t know).

I first saw the video on the HuffPost. There were at least two warnings on the webpage stating that the clip contained graphic images. And it did. It clearly showed several dead men lying on the ground, some with blood all over them. It also clearly showed several soldiers/Marines standing over the bodies. Well, it* partially* showed them.

What it did not clearly show (I can only guess because it was deemed entirely* too* graphic–even though the disclaimer was run before the story) was the area running from just above the waist down to the lower legs of the (living) troops standing and reportedly urinating on corpses. This area was digitally blurred out. (Incidentally, making it impossible for a viewer to see whether any urination on corpses was taking place or not)

I later watched the original, unblurred video on the Guardian website (home page only due to the nature of the video). In that version you can partially see some bits of flaccid, pissing, penises–but not very well.

How did we get to the point where it’s deemed reasonable to show the bloody bodies of people who had clearly met a violent death, while at the very same time, barely recognizable human genitalia (of living people) is deemed to be too graphic EVEN FOR A VIDEO THAT VIEWERS ARE WARNED UP FRONT… IS A GRAPHIC VIDEO!!!

This general phenomenon has been remarked upon and puzzled over before. But usually it is expressed as: “Why is it OK to let our children watch violent TV and movies, and play gory video games, but it’s not OK for them to view naked people?”

Usually, whenever that issue has been hashed over, it’s involved fictional portrayals of “sex” and violence. Now we have the quintessential example of what is, IMO, the hypocritical and/or insanely mixed-up nature of some people’s (mainly Americans, which I happen to be) morals. Quintessential because within one single shot we see clearly before us what is considered (by at least one American media outlet)* to be graphic, but publicly presentable,* and what is considered *too graphic to be shown at all unless heavily obscured. *

BTW–I don’t really hold HuffPost or any other outlet that ran this particular clip primarily responsible for this outrageousness because I know they are only jumping through the hoops they have to in order to avoid a shitstorm of hypocritical, illogical, tears-and-bedwetting from (mostly) Conservatives and the Religious Right.

A link to the HuffPost version is below.
** WARNING: Even though it “only” shows brown-skinned peoples’ corpses and does not show any sinful peckers, per Board sensibilities, I am marking this as NSFW and breaking the link with @@@@.**
[noparse]HuffPost - Breaking News, U.S. and World News | HuffPost


What’s ass-backwards about this? Why should a corpse be more offensive than a penis?

Moderator: can you please fix the HuffPost link? It IS successfully pointed away from the NSFW video, but it’s still goofed up and sends folks to (Post Newspapers, I guess???)

Precisely. It shouldn’t be. If you’re going to show one, you should show the other. If you choose not to show the clip at all, that is your choice.

Ever try showing up nude at a wake?

What does that have to do with anything? Are you saying the Huffington Post blurred the video so as not to disturb the peaceful rest and serenity of the Taliban fighters being urinated upon?

Ever been to a wake where the corpse was riddled with bullet holes and covered in blood?

Can you explain to me how this is an example of U.S. morals being backward? It might be silly to blur a penis while leaving a corpse visible but I can’t honestly say it has anything to do with morality.

I see the OP’s point and agree, to an extent. We don’t seem to mind seeing 50 scenes of graphic (if fictional) violence each week on network TV, but if network TV shows the relevant parts of a naked man or woman we (collectively) seem to go ballistic. Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” is the apex of this, but even gritty, rated “M”, late-prime-time shows like NYPD Blue got flak for stuff like showing David Caruso’s and Charlotte Ross’s buttocks.

That’s all it has to do with. We don’t blur out nipples and bleep out curse words based on some sort of objective paradigm. We do it because somebody might think it was icky.

Okay. I don’t see it as an example of moral backwardness. So, can someone explain to me why it’s morally backward?

Because the censorship of the video implies that out-of-focus peni are more offensive to the eye than the bloody, bullet-riddled bodies they are peeing on. That’s all kinds of screwed up.

Perhaps I should have called it something other than “morals”, but I don’t know what term that would be.

I was just struck by the perfect juxtaposition of A) what was considered graphic, but permissible to show, and B) what was considered to be simply too offensive to show.

Then I thought about the why. Why was this decision made? I’ve worked in TV news for 25 years. I’m a professional photojournalist. I’ve seen, and I’ve videotaped, some things that are not the sorts of pictures you air for public consumption. On the scene you basically shoot first and ask questions later (unless it’s live). Whether questionable video should be aired or not depends on a lot of factors.

Mostly, it depends on context and newsworthiness. A group of soldiers with their dicks hanging out–pissing on the street normally would not be newsworthy in the least. If for some reason it was (for example, let’s say they’re urinating–with their penises clearly visible–on a photo of the President) then it’s quite newsworthy… every outlet in the country, if not the world would want those pictures.

So do you run the video? Almost definitely yes. Do you obscure the penises? Well, if you’re a Peoria (for example) TV station in the USA then you’d better, because of community standards. If it’s a TV network in the Netherlands? Probably you don’t bother obscuring. They seem to have gotten past the whole “Heh… heh-heh!!! Pee-pee poo-poo!!” thing some time ago.

Now consider graphic video of violently killed human beings. Again, you don’t run the clip at all unless it is newsworthy. If it is, and you do run it, do you show the faces? The intestines hanging out? The blood? Maybe some gore, but not other gore? Once again, it mostly depends on anticipating your audience and how they’ll react to the images.

Now what if you have exposed penises (of living, peeing folks) AND violently killed humans covered in blood, etc., IN THE VERY SAME FRAME OF VIDEO? Who in the world would decide to censor hard-to-see penises but not dead soldiers? Especially because ***it’s only a story because of the urination!!! *** If you’re going to cut that out than why bother showing the video at all?

Because of religious America’s “morals”–whether actual or perceived. That’s the only reason I can think of. And if these peoples’ morals indeed allow for viewing bloody corpses, but not tips of penises poking out of camos, then yes. It is their morals at issue, and yes, those morals are ass-backward.

That’s not moral, it’s aesthetic. Yes, America’s aesthetics are fucked up, but this isn’t indicative of morals. (It may, however, be symptomatic of them)

Yes. That’s right. But this was so incredible because A) it isn’t fiction or entertainment; but mostly, B) because the so-called “sex” and the violence were right there together in the same frame! They wore their opinion (on which is more offensive) on their sleeves. More importantly, the part of the graphic, offensive image they chose to censor was the whole story! *** You can’t even see anyone pissing in the HuffPost video*** So why even show it at all?

That’s a good distinction. I would say it is both symptomatic and indicative of morals because it is in anticipation (probably spot on) of viewers’ moral outrage that such a bizarre “split-decision” was made. Show a shot-up, bloody Muslim? Sure. Why not?

Show the tip of a penis urinating?? My God! WWJD?

It is a symptom of America’s hypocritical morals that a media outlet would make such a wacky decision–even as they probably knew it was wacko. It’s probably better to say “it is a result of” rather that “it is a symptom of”. At that point I can’t see that this wasn’t also indicative, as well.

What’s doubly funny is that the censoring in question is actually significant in supporting the claim in the article.

I am shocked and appalled at the appalling, shocking lack of morals evinced by the United States of America.

The OP has truly ripped the lid off. I can only hope this damning expose will make the United States completely reform its moral standards and adopt the ass-forward values of other, more enlightened nations.

I don’t think this speaks to “the morals of the USA” or any such highfalutin thing. It’s about practical concerns like spooking advertisers or getting blocked by firewalls. Even so, it’d be better if HuffPo just ran a large warning for a couple of seconds before the video started and then let it run uncensored. I agree it’s silly to censor an element of the video that is actually crucial to the story, not that anyone is arguing that maybe the soldiers weren’t pissing on the corpses.

But a media outlet would only be concerned about spooking an advertiser because they know the advertiser is spooked by it’s customers over-reacting to a tiny flash of penis. Bloody corpse? Not so much. Doesn’t that speak to the morals (in general) of Americans?

It all boils down to the morals–real, or perceived-- of Americans. That’s what can move an advertiser to drop media buys, and that’s what causes media outlets to self-censor in ridiculous ways. (There are other reasons too, of course)