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Mon Jan 23, 2012, 03:14 PM

 

Bodily desecration is disturbing—but why?

Omar Sacirbey | Jan 23, 2012

(RNS) The recent outrage over a video allegedly showing U.S. Marines urinating on dead Taliban fighters provided Americans with a disturbing reminder that war can reduce men to revenge-seeking brutality that defies human norms.

It's nothing new: the desecration of enemy soldiers during the Civil War, of Japanese during World War II and North Vietnamese fighters during the Vietnam War, and Iraqis and Afghans in the most recent conflicts, is well-documented.

It obviously makes people squeamish -- but why?

Desecrating enemy dead is not always a vengeful impulse, and in some cultures even has a religious component. At the same time, disgust at the desecration of the dead is not always a simple case of demanding respect for a fallen human being, but also carries religious implications, even on one's journey in the afterlife.

http://www.religionnews.com/ethics/death-and-dying/bodily-desecration-is-disturbing-but-why

Or, they can just be pigs.

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Arrow 7 replies Author Time Post
Reply Bodily desecration is disturbing—but why? (Original post)
rug Jan 2012 OP
spin Jan 2012 #1
dmallind Jan 2012 #3
dmallind Jan 2012 #2
cbayer Jan 2012 #4
PassingFair Jan 2012 #5
rug Jan 2012 #6
ZombieHorde Jan 2012 #7

Response to rug (Original post)

Mon Jan 23, 2012, 04:48 PM

1. You reminded me of the story of David and the foreskins...


22 Then Saul ordered his attendants: “Speak to David privately and say, ‘Look, the king likes you, and his attendants all love you; now become his son-in-law.’”

23 They repeated these words to David. But David said, “Do you think it is a small matter to become the king’s son-in-law? I’m only a poor man and little known.”

24 When Saul’s servants told him what David had said, 25 Saul replied, “Say to David, ‘The king wants no other price for the bride than a hundred Philistine foreskins, to take revenge on his enemies.’” Saul’s plan was to have David fall by the hands of the Philistines.

26 When the attendants told David these things, he was pleased to become the king’s son-in-law. So before the allotted time elapsed, 27 David took his men with him and went out and killed two hundred Philistines and brought back their foreskins. They counted out the full number to the king so that David might become the king’s son-in-law. Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage.
1 Samuel 18 (New International Version) http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+18&version=NIV

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Response to spin (Reply #1)

Mon Jan 23, 2012, 05:19 PM

3. Very funny bit in Heller's "God Knows" based on David's story

...in that David had a much easier time collecting these trophies after he worked out he could kill the Philistines first.

For those who haven't read it a very funny and insightful book which is actually quite redemptive and positive religiously after many potshots.

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Response to rug (Original post)

Mon Jan 23, 2012, 05:15 PM

2. The reasons are of course all cultural, religious and traditional

All three criteria quite closely linked obviously. There isn't a single rational reason why peeing on a dead person should offend anyone, but even the vast majority of secular folks would object. It causes no pain, no lack of utility and no loss of enjoyment (except possibly to cannibals!). Why then the offense? Cultural conditioning - mostly stemming from religious dogma even if the dogma itself is long gone. My own mother, apatheistic nominal CofE, had a revulsion towards cremation even though she had no defined or deep belief in the utility of a complete carcass. She just thought it was an insult to somebody who was obviously long past caring about being insulted. The visceral response remains lomg after the superstition that spawned it. Obviously the reaction is even stronger if the superstition itself remains, as with people who sincerely believe the nonsense that a dead body is capable of further harm.

I occasionally muse on when if ever these strange irrational remnants will fade away - surely speaking ill of the living is worse than speaking ill of the dead for one, as the reputation of a corpse is no further use to it - but I hold out little hope it will happen even within a few centuries.

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Response to rug (Original post)

Mon Jan 23, 2012, 05:20 PM

4. For me it's the barbaric aspect of pissing on an enemy that you have just killed.

It doesn't make me squeamish, but it does make me ashamed to be represented in other countries by people like this.

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Response to rug (Original post)

Wed Jan 25, 2012, 07:41 AM

5. Because they are defenseless?

Absolutely defenseless.

It is such a contemptuous act.

Personally, I'd rather be peed on dead than alive.

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Response to PassingFair (Reply #5)

Wed Jan 25, 2012, 03:25 PM

6. TMI

 

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Response to rug (Original post)

Wed Jan 25, 2012, 11:21 PM

7. Turning people into inanimate objects is more offensive to me

than people urinating on inanimate objects.

I don't believe in an afterlife, so I think we should be as nice as we can in this life. Not killing each other isn't a bad place to start in my opinion. The pissing is extremely minor compared to the killing from my point of view.

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