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Date of Award

Spring 2012

Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Nancy Schauber


Imagine that you are sitting at home watching the news. You read one of the headlines at the bottom of the TV screen that says “US Soldiers Defiling Bodies in Afghanistan.” What is you first reaction? Many people might be disturbed or taken aback by such a caption. Or, maybe they would want to know more about the story before making any judgments. You might even debate for a few seconds about whether you want to continue watching the news after hearing that there is a picture showing the soldiers defiling the bodies. Let us say that you decide to continue watching and the picture comes up on the television screen. The picture shows several soldiers dressed in uniform with their guns standing over Afghan bodies (it is unclear whether the bodies are soldiers or civilians) and the soldiers are urinating on the bodies. Are you now ready to state how you feel about the soldiers’ actions? Maybe you need more information about the circumstances in which the soldiers performed those actions. But then you might ask yourself, “is that kind of information even relevant?” Suppose that the person you are watching the news with proclaims, “A soldier would have to be a horrible person to do such a thing.” Then, another person responds, “I do not think that you can make a claim about the soldiers’ character based simply on this one action. You do not know the kinds of things they went through overseas that might have driven them to do that.”