Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Dogs of War

This month's controversy about a video that appears to show a U.S. soldier throwing a puppy off a cliff has generated an enormous online debate. Even though Gawker and YouTube were pressured to remove the video earlier, it continues to resurface as a document of seeming brutality among members of the military. There are three obviously interesting things about this video: 1) the debates taking place among "spoilers" in online communities who claim that the video cannot be authentic, which also take place in relation to other digital rhetoric stories, 2) the ways that this video can be seen as part of a larger genre of callous soldier brutality videos that have spurred military brass to forbid unauthorized online video sharing with sites like YouTube because of the outcry in response to footage of soldiers laughing while blowing up a mosque or taunting a child with a water bottle proffered from a moving truck, and 3) the outrage related to online video that shows cruelty to animals, whether depicted in so-called "crush" videos produced for sexual gratification or undercover video of mainstream industrial animal husbandry practices.

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