Posted By Blake Hounshell Tuesday, September 13, 2011 – 4:46 PM  

Over the last six months, I’ve watched countless gory videos of Arab protesters who have been beaten to death, shot in the head, run over with tanks, or otherwise brutalized by their own governments. And yet, for reasons that I can’t quite fathom, few scenes have disturbed me as much as this scene, said to be of Syrian soldiers gunning down a group of donkeys in cold blood:

[youtube http://youtu.be/w2ZkJ7jv5pg?]

Syrians on Twitter tell me that the reason for this seemingly senseless slaughter is to punish villagers for support the protest movement by taking away their means of survival. If so, it’s a particularly nasty form of collective punishment — gunning down a bunch of innocent, helpless animals.

The Syrian revolution has been going through a rough patch lately, with little fresh movement to isolate Bashar al-Assad’s regime and what look to be smaller protests inside the country. The exiled opposition can’t seem to get its act together and organize a united front, while activists inside the country are calling desperately for international protection of some kind as dozens of them continue to be killed, injured, or rounded up each day.

It would be bitterly ironic if it took the murder of a few donkeys to summon the global sense of outrage that greeted Bashar’s Ramadan crackdown. But then again, the world works in strange ways sometimes.