Today, the Marines made public the punishment to be meted out to two Marines in Iraq who had become YouTube stars for casually and cruelly hurling a weeks-old puppy over a cliff while joking and filming their “prank.”
The idiot who did the throwing was taken out of Iraq and will be dismissed from the Marines. The cineast who filmed the 17-second atrocity will face some sort of secret Marine wrist-slapping. Whoop-de-doo. The thrower is probably overjoyed at escaping the war zone early. Killing young animals might now become the ticket to coming home faster — and never having to be redeployed.
deeply felt horror is over the two Marines’ depraved indifference at
taking the most innocent of lives — that of a voiceless, defenseless
creature. I didn’t want to watch the video (which has now been removed
fromYouTube ), but I knew I needed to, if I were subsequently going to
try to convey my feelings about what happened. I saw the submissive
droop of the puppy in the thrower’s fist–the relaxed posture of
puppies when they are carried in their mother’s mouth by the nape of
their necks. I paused the video to try to see if I could read in the
thrower’s face some hidden feelings of compassion, or conscience, or
sorrow — something other than his callous bravura and posturing. I
listened to the cameraman join in the premeditated “prank,” egging his
pal on, mocking the act with, “That’s cruel, man.”
What I am left with is perhaps naive surprise — after all, why should a person my age (56) be surprised by something like this one small act of cruelty, when I’ve seen at least snippets of what has gone on during my lifetime, all over the world, and what goes on, and on, and on, everywhere, every day on earth. Are we so hardened as a species that we think nothing of taking the lives of our fellow humans, the lives of any other species we feel like taking, and the lives of the defenseless young of any species? It’s obvious to me that we have lost any sense of our place in the web of life on our little planet. We don’t feel responsible for our own actions, so why should we care about anyone else, or any other creature we happen upon?
There is some hope, though, judging from the outcry that was raised once the “prank” was circulating on the Internet. While many wondered if the “prank” had been “real” or had been staged with a stuffed animal, the revulsion expressed by the majority of blog posters is a positive thing.
Perhaps the senseless death of that puppy will raise human consciousness about animal cruelty. Just as the Humane Society‘s hidden-camera video of the torture of “downed” cows brought to the public forum lively debate about our treatment of animals — and, even better, it brought forth legislation to protect food animals from torture. I wonder what emotional discussions about the puppy’s death will bring?