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Debate stirs up among readers about our coverage of military video investigation

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Our story about a military investigation into a racially charged comedy skit shown in 2010 at a formal dinner at CFB Greenwood, N.S., spurred a debate about humour and race in the comments. The video includes a man in brown makeup and wearing a turban, pretending to be Osama bin Laden's brother.

Many members of the CBC Community said that it was wrong to criticize the military for producing this video to entertain members of the Canadian Forces. 

  • "That's hilarious. So it would be OK for the comedians to tackle the subject, but not someone who risks their life on behalf of this country? Hypocrites, one and all!" said mo.

  • "I don't get it. Am I supposed to be offended that some soldiers who fought/fight in Afghanistan (tasked with producing a 'funny' video for a dinner) mocked Osama Bin Laden and his family? I couldn't care less," said AbeVigoda. 

But others saw the video as insensitive and in poor taste.

  • "I would agree that one of the realities that we seldom acknowledge in public is that police officers, fire respondents, teachers, profs, politicians, soldiers, doctors and other people in whom we put public trust have a sense of humour. Nevertheless, we also need to acknowledge that society doesn't depend upon comedians to make life-or-death decisions, right? So comedians get a free pass. If soldiers want to be comedians, great, they can lay down their gun, take off the uniform, and do so," said dean_snowden.

  • "It's very disturbing to see this kind of racism displayed by some of our military. I hope this investigation doesn't just end in a whitewash. Respect and tolerance of other cultures has been a traditional aspect of Canadian culture for a long time," said Lani444.

  • "I would have expected a higher level of professionalism from our military. They do have a code of ethics, don't they? Mocking other countries' cultures and religions, as we have seen in the past, does not win hearts and minds. As these types of articles and videos are widely circulated and accessible on the internet, this will reflect badly on our country. I'm disappointed in our military, I expected much better from them. Perhaps a public apology is in order," said Shame on us. 

Some said the video was no different than what would be seen on the CBC's own comedy shows. Others disagreed and said the military should be held to a different standard.

  • "This could have easily been done by CBC's This Hour has Twenty Two Minutes and I've seen similar skits on the CBC. Shame on anyone who would charge these soldiers for having fun. The skit is not the embarrassment, the investigation is," said WR_R067.

  • "We see skits like this on the CBC comedy shows regularly but because it's from members of our military, somehow, this is front page news and the first item on the morning radio broadcast!! Unbelievable," said Loup Garou.

  • "Because when people in the military do asinine things like this, soldiers in the field get killed! They are not comedians although some are quite funny," replied Sydneyguy.

  • "It is the job of people who work on the Air Farce or other comedy sketch to produce comedy, not fight wars. Why? Because comedians going abroad to solve international conflicts would not be taken seriously. There is a level of professionalism and responsibility that comes with representing this country. How do you expect to win the hearts and minds of the civilians you are trying to protect and convert from defecting to the Taliban when they see things like that?" said Nate24. 

And some members of the CBC Community criticized CBC News for reporting on the investigation and posting the video online. 

  • "CBC, I support your quality journalism, which is why I am sad to see this trashy tabloid style article. The military recognized that there was a problem with this video and did something about it. The actions were of a few misguided individuals whose behaviour was not condoned. Other than pure sensationalism what value is there in digging up the one surviving copy of this video and reporting on it? It just seems like you're trying to force a story where there is none and in the meantime cause embarrassment to our proud servicemen and women. I support your work most of the time, but this time, shame on you," said hma2008.

  • "I have to wonder about what the CBC was thinking when they posted this video. The material is offensive and will likely inflame people of Middle Eastern descent. The comments are inappropriate and should not be given wide circulation. Whatever happened to responsible journalism?" said vponeill. 

Thanks for following our coverage. We appreciate your feedback on our journalism. Please feel free to continue the discussion in the comments below. 

Tags: Community, Community Reaction

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