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Objecting to war
April 2, 2003 10:17 AM   Subscribe

The first conscientious objector of the war? Marine Lance Cpl. Stephen Funk said he had had a lapse in judgment when he signed up as a 19-year-old, swayed by his recruiter's pitch of new skills, camaraderie and a naive belief that it would be "like the Boy Scouts."
posted by bitdamaged (66 comments total)

 
Ah, so many punchlines, so little time:

"I always knew the Army didn't have the funk," etc. etc. ad absurdium.

Anyhoo, three brits may have beat him to the punch, as it were.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:35 AM on April 2, 2003


"They don't really advertise that they kill people."

hmm. the photos of camo'd gentlemen wielding rifles didn't give much of a clue, eh? still, he should have declared his c.o. status much earlier.

what is a conscientious objector?

what alternative duties might a conscientious objector have?
posted by grabbingsand at 10:44 AM on April 2, 2003


"They don't really advertise that they kill people."

hmm. the photos of camo'd gentlemen wielding rifles didn't give much of a clue, eh?


grabbingsand, those guys aren't killing people, they're overcoming disadvantages to turn conflict into victory. They're being a smaller, more dynamic expeditionary force. They're being heroes. That's what the guy wanted to do. His statement sounds absurd on its face, but realistically, the military's ads are always grossly distorting what the essential job actually is, and I say we go after them with the same team of lawyers that's hitting McDonalds.
posted by soyjoy at 10:56 AM on April 2, 2003


On a more serious note, here's a web version of PBS' The Good War, and those who refused to fight it. Some parts of it are eye-opening.
posted by soyjoy at 10:59 AM on April 2, 2003


There are plenty of non-violent activities they could have him doing... like disarming land mines.
posted by bobo123 at 11:02 AM on April 2, 2003


one can hardly expect the Army to use Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket" as publicity material for recruiting, right?
posted by matteo at 11:06 AM on April 2, 2003


This guy, I'm sorry, is a complete dipshit. The Marines will be well rid of him.
posted by padraigin at 11:10 AM on April 2, 2003


This guy is just an idiot. How could he not realize what he was getting himself into? Everyone has to know that there is *some* possibility that you'll be called on to do the job you signed up for.
posted by Spacelegoman at 11:12 AM on April 2, 2003


C'mon soyjoy. Even cooks abd tuba players learn how to shoot a rifle. If you join the army, expect to kill.
posted by Witty at 11:12 AM on April 2, 2003


An Iraqi mother in a van fired on by US soldiers says she saw her two young daughters decapitated in the incident that also killed her son and eight other members of her family.

The children's father, who was also in the van, said US soldiers fired on them as they fled towards a checkpoint because they thought a leaflet dropped by US helicopters told them to "be safe", and they believed that meant getting out of their village to Karbala.

...

As they approached another checkpoint 40km south of Karbala, they waved again at the American soldiers.

"We were thinking these Americans want us to be safe," Hassan said through an Army translator at a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital set up at a vast Army support camp near Najaf.

The soldiers didn't wave back. They fired.

"I saw the heads of my two little girls come off," Hassan's heavily pregnant wife, Lamea, 36, said numbly.

She repeated herself in a flat, even voice: "My girls - I watched their heads come off their bodies. My son is dead."
posted by homunculus at 11:14 AM on April 2, 2003


Idiots are people too.
posted by jpoulos at 11:14 AM on April 2, 2003


The Marines website [Flash] features a bad-looking dude punching something, a mountain climber, and a honor guard. I can't blame the Marines for targeting their audience like any savvy business, but there are some definite truth-in-advertising issues.

homunculus, your comment is going to kill this thread.
posted by letitrain at 11:24 AM on April 2, 2003


We hear phrases like, "they volunteered to be soldiers so they knew what they were getting into" thrown around here all the time. Why should this guy be treated any different?

Personally, I have no problem with conscientious objectors but I do find it a little wrong to suddenly become one (or, at least, file the paperwork) after you get your deployment orders.
posted by Cyrano at 11:26 AM on April 2, 2003


(And that last bit was more of a general comment. I'm aware from the article that this man started having qualms in boot camp.)
posted by Cyrano at 11:28 AM on April 2, 2003


Given certain details not mentioned in the FPP article, it would seem that, under normal circumstances, Cpl. Funk's service would be, shall we say, abridged posthaste. (Unless, of course, the usual rules don't apply to reservists.)
posted by thomas j wise at 11:36 AM on April 2, 2003


they're overcoming disadvantages to turn conflict into victory.

and if those "disadvantages" happen to put up a fight, a hero just might have to shoot them. using rhetoric to turn enemies into "disadvantages" does not remove the fact of their humanity, no matter how agregious is the faction they represent. to ignore this is to ignore the brutal actuality that war, while often necessary, is not made less horrible by the words we choose to describe it.

that being said, i still say that this fellow still should have reported his heart-felt c.o. status months ago, perhaps as soon as his first day of hand-to-hand training. his late-coming makes him look less like an objector and more like someone seeking an excuse.
posted by grabbingsand at 11:42 AM on April 2, 2003


"Ultimately, it's my fault for joining in the first place," said 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Stephen Funk, who didn't show up when his unit was deployed to Camp Pendleton. "It wasn't as well thought out as it should've been. It was about me being depressed and wanting direction in life."

His honesty is admirable. The guy's in a tough spot.
posted by Cyrano at 11:44 AM on April 2, 2003


I think that grenade boy was the first conscientious objector of the war.
posted by banished at 11:52 AM on April 2, 2003


I'm having something of a fundimental problem with this. He's not a moron; he's well spoken, and appears not to have any obvious short-circuits in his wiring.

So, having lived for 19 years, having been exposed to John Wayne, Rambo, Gulf War I (!!!), etcetera and so on... he had No Idea what an army was for??

This isn't life - it's a Woody Allen film.

Would anybody buy this if he had joined the Klan, and at his first cross-burning started to hedge on the dangers of pyrotechnics? Or if he started complaining that his Klan Chapter could use a little ethnic diversity?

Folks, lets face facts - anyone above the age of five knows what an army is for - that's about when us boychics start drawing dotted lines between two stick figures and writing "Arrg!!! Bombs!!!" above their heads.

Boy Scouts, indeed...

He's like a scam insurance policy - he took our money, and now that its time to pay out, he's running. Feh.
posted by Perigee at 11:58 AM on April 2, 2003


This guy is just an idiot. How could he not realize what he was getting himself into? Everyone has to know that there is *some* possibility that you'll be called on to do the job you signed up for.

Ever talk with a recruiter...they are worse than telemarketing. Think they wrote the book, seriously. Would not be surprise if this guy is given an honorable discharge, this is not prison nor do they flat out own you. You may think it; it just takes paperwork, like the article says: Funk must report for duty at 7:30 each morning while his application is reviewed.

I think that grenade boy was the first conscientious objector of the war.

Please think about your statement, he killed men after he was kept off the battle field by the Army then killed his fellow men.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:05 PM on April 2, 2003


I hope they put him in the brig for a LONG time. Totally obvious that this guy expected to go through the service, and then get his pension at the end without ever having to do anything.

Come on, it's obvious that you might need to serve your country. You might need to fire that weapon at a human target. Thats the job. That was in the training. End of story.
posted by ericdano at 12:08 PM on April 2, 2003


I can't blame the Marines for targeting their audience like any savvy business, but there are some definite truth-in-advertising issues.

What a load of crap. Name -one- job where they give you a full disclosure of all the potential perils. Janitor? Nanny? Fry cook? Did the recruiter disclose all the crap work you were going to do at your job?

Of course not. Certainly not on their website. Whatja wanna see; color guard, mountain climber, kid with his guts in his hands screaming for his mother?
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:11 PM on April 2, 2003


This guy, I'm sorry, is a complete dipshit. The Marines will be well rid of him.

Right on. I mean, how ever will Our Hired Killers be able to perform recruiter-undisclosed "crap work" like effectively slaughtering Iraqi children in vans or bombing markets in Baghdad, with the likes of this guy in the ranks?

Why, he might just cause a hell of a fuss....what with all this growing and thinking for himself and speaking out and bravely doing what he thinks is right and all. After all, we're hearing from some folks that any dissenting behavior is un-American. Traitorous, ya know. Baaaaaa....

He's like a scam insurance policy - he took our money, and now that its time to pay out, he's running. Feh.

Oh. It's about money. I should have known. Hell, and just imagine the money we waste when someone with real expensive training (like flight training) runs. Don't you hate those kinds of folks? Should we ask for our money back? Or just make sure he's never in a responsible military position of any kind again....like Commander in Chief?

"I am angry that so many of the sons of the powerful and well-placed... managed to wangle slots in Reserve and National Guard units...Of the many tragedies of Vietnam, this raw class discrimination strikes me as the most damaging to the ideal that all Americans are created equal and owe equal allegiance to their country." (Colin Powell’s autobiography, My American Journey, p. 148)

'Course, this young Marine C.O. could have just chosen the patriotic path of Dick "Five Deferments" Cheney during Vietnam. Or of chickenhawks everywhere.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 12:20 PM on April 2, 2003


Ok, fold - explain to me why a nice boy with nary a naughty murderous thought in his head would join the Marines... if not for taking a crap shoot he could waltz through his enlistment in the reserves, collecting a paycheck without being called up for active duty.

Or do you believe we actually pay people to simply march up and down and sing-song about eskimo parsy being mighty cold, and he's being unfairly crucified because being a soldier suddenly means... being a soldier?

I'm just about the most anti-war feller in this place - and I've got the nomination of the Sontag Award to prove it - but lets not make like this isn't dead-blatent obvious.
posted by Perigee at 12:30 PM on April 2, 2003


I'm going to guess that he was told what a lot of others are told - that they will end up in non-combat roles. So it might not be as stupid as it sounds - he probably knew the military included fighting, he just thought he wouldn't be the one doing it.

Maybe they can make him into a combat medic or something. It still has all the danger, but you don't have to shoot anyone. It would show the world whether he was really a coward or a pacifist.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:31 PM on April 2, 2003


f_and_m,

if that quote really is from powell's autobio, i have to ask myself for the millionth time, "what the flying seven kinds of unholy f--k is he doing serving in this administration?!!!!"
posted by lord_wolf at 12:35 PM on April 2, 2003


Back in november, I heard a Forum call-in radio show about military recruitment in high schools. Real Audio of that program here.Staff Sergeant Raymond Edwards, from the San Francisco Golden Gate Recruiting Station, defended recruitment against some callers' ethical objections by arguing that for many young people, the military is another means to getting a college degree, traveling the world and learning new skills. I have no doubt that recruiters soft-sell the killing aspect of military service, which is understandable. However, I believe that a full-disclosure mandate should be implemented for recruitment, if for no other reason than to address the accusations of bait and switch.
posted by squirrel at 12:36 PM on April 2, 2003


No matter my personal feelings. Folks say it once more, have you talked to a recruiter? When I say talk; in their office, with the intent of joining. It is a numbers game. Not until the 90's did the Airforce have to actually commercially advertise for recruitment, until then they were the only ones who didn't.

In this day & age, no I don't think he really had an idea what he would be putting himself in for, when the time came. This is what people mean when they say: for their country, they will serve( you may serve other ways, not the thread to go on). What would you die for? money/woman/fun/family/land-of-your-citizenship-&-all-of-its-inhabitants.

Maybe they can make him into a combat medic or something...show the world whether he was really a coward or a pacifist.

Mitrovarr good points, but this is the military easier for them to discharge him, than re-train him. He would have to put in for a change of duty when a position opened up. Then too with his current job, his performance would be looked at, kind of like head of the class, it's a numbers game.

young Marine C.O
Lance Corporal, most were given promotions with their orders of deployment.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:43 PM on April 2, 2003


Auugh! I Must be missing something somewhere.
"Bait and Switch?"

What do Postmen do?
What do Astronauts do?
What do Dancers do?
What do Garbage Men do?
What do Policemen do?
What do Firemen do?
What do Soldiers do?

If you people insist, I'll believe that the citizens of the United States have the intellect of rotten cabbages. But it strikes me that if you need to post

WARNING!! POSTMEN DELIVER MAIL!!!
WARNING!! ASTRONAUTS GO TO SPACE!!!
WARNING!! DANCERS DANCE!!!
WARNING!! GARBAGE MEN COLLECT GARBAGE!!!
et. al.,

the people must be so incredibly moronic as to make "Spongebob Squarepants" to American equivalent of "King Lear."
posted by Perigee at 12:48 PM on April 2, 2003


thomcatspike - You're probably right about it being easier for the military to discharge him, but it would probably be a good PR move for them to offer it. I'm sure they can afford it, and if he accepts it and becomes a good combat medic, they look very decent for offering him a pacifistic position. If he doesn't accept it, then he looks like a lier and a coward and a lot of his credibility is shot.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:52 PM on April 2, 2003


from article"The ads for the military are sold as a scholarship tool. There is no footage of combat," she said. "It is a real bait-and-switch that is costing young people their lives."

if for no other reason than to address the accusations of bait and switch.

Squirrel, after you posted...arrgg...they tell you to get it in writing, because it does happen. Heard this tons of times growing up.
Recruiter: Want to live in Hawaii?
Recruit:Where do I sign.
Recruit now in Military: Did not do well in boot camp sent to Texas instead. {do know men that did get to go to Hawaii out of boot camp}

The job the Recruiter promised you is not a promise. It is a goal that you may achieve. But your job that you wanted,
you better have done well in boot-camp. Your # in the graduating class is the place you stand in line when picking your job duty. So # 1 is able to pick first: Last one, is stuck with what is left. If they mess up your orders & you were # 1, O well, now your a fireman(only job left) if you're in the Navy.

See they may only have a small amount of positions for the job you want. Think of boot-camp as not being in the military because your not, you are a recruit looking to join. Once you have passed boot-camp, or the job interview, you have been hired in a Corporation, the Military...

Maybe the only fault here as he was not drafted was being gullible & misinformed, where is his dad or mentor? Lack of guidence.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:09 PM on April 2, 2003


To those who say it should have been obvious to this guy that he'd have to fight: maybe, but should it have been obvious that he'd have to fight in unwinnable situations like homunculus and f_and_m describe?

I'd assume that most soldiers, even the ones that sign up seeking combat, wouldn't expect that they'd be put in situations where they have to make impossible decisions about civilian "shields", car bombs, fighting irregulars mixed in with women and children, etc.

You may say they were being naive, or that they should have read up on Somalia, or whatever else. But it's quite possible that situations they are thrust into were not only NOT in the recruiting brochure, but were not in their training either.
posted by pitchblende at 1:11 PM on April 2, 2003


WARNING!! POSTMEN DELIVER MAIL!!!
WARNING!! ASTRONAUTS GO TO SPACE!!!
WARNING!! DANCERS DANCE!!!
WARNING!! GARBAGE MEN COLLECT GARBAGE!!!


So do our men in the military, when not in combat.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:12 PM on April 2, 2003


Sheesh, I was hoping to chime in on the idiocy of this Funk, but so many others have expressed it better than I could. My hat's off to all who trashed him before me.
He joins the Marine reserves, then he decides he's a conscientious objector. I hope they do toss him in the brig for being AWOL. Society needs to be protected from someone this stupid.
posted by stevefromsparks at 1:14 PM on April 2, 2003


men our people
posted by thomcatspike at 1:15 PM on April 2, 2003


Perigee, I wouldn't argue the fact that soldiers kill as part of their job, but as soyjoy points out, that reality is abstracted and glossed over in MTV-style recruitment. Does this excuse what you and I would agree appears like willful ignorance about the reality of the millitary's purpose? No. Does it explain why many naive young people may feel misled when they find themselves facing combat? Sure it does. I propose only to build more honesty into recruitment. Your all-caps ad hominem rant is out of place here.
posted by squirrel at 1:19 PM on April 2, 2003


So, having lived for 19 years...Gulf War I (!!!),

During the first Gulf War, he was 8. How many 8 year olds have a clue about any damn thing other than little Johnny next door and chocolate milk?
posted by SuzySmith at 1:22 PM on April 2, 2003


The job the Recruiter promised you is not a promise.

I dunno if things have changed, but when I signed on for the Navy in 1991 I had a contract that said I was going in to do a certain job. I signed papers in the recruiter's office that said so. When it was discovered during basic that I had a medical condition that would prevent me from doing that job, I was offered the option to choose a different job or leave. I chose to leave.
posted by Cyrano at 1:23 PM on April 2, 2003


I signed up for the army when I was 18, thought seriously about what it might mean for me to “do my duty,” rationalized the whole kill-others-just-like-me part of it, and figured I could handle it. It took me about three months to figure out that the military wasn’t for me, and I spent the next seven years struggling in obedient ROTC and active duty service. I’m still tied to the Army with a statutory obligation that doesn’t end for a few months yet, and reserve placement officers are calling to update my files so that I’m deployable. They don’t know I’ve been attending protest rallies and writing peace letters for months.

Please don’t oversimplify a person’s decision to join the army or become a C.O. There’s a lot more that goes into signing up and standing down than kill/don’t kill. The economic pressures to join are real; recruiters do mislead; people minds’ change as they mature; and the nature of the current conflict can change their minds as well. Besides, who here hasn’t made some short-sighted decisions at the ripe age of 18 or 19? Not everyone possesses a fully developed moral philosophy then.
posted by win_k at 1:34 PM on April 2, 2003


I don't think it's out of place - it's the very heart of the question.

You sign up as a soldier.
What do soldiers do?
Soldiers fight.
Why do we have soldiers?
So they can fight for us. That's what we pay them for.

Now, there are folks that want us to believe they didn't know what a soldier is for. They were given bait and switch. That's simply nonsense. You can put all the high-gloss and smoke and mirrors on a donkey, but the fact of the matter is, a donkey IS a donkey. And short of being a total mental deficient, you aren't going to mistake that donkey for Marilyn Monroe.

You call these folks "Misled." I don't - can't see that, unless they are absolutely subhumanly stupid. It's the Armed Forces. You are signing up to be a Soldier. What is so misleading about being a soldier in the armed forces? All the glitz and glamor is all just piled on top of the basic purpose of the job:

Soldiers fight.
We pay soldiers to fight, so we don't have to do it ourselves.

Now, if you can explain to me how you can believe signing up to be a soldier can happen without knowing what a soldier does having lived at least 18 years in the most media-rich country on our planet, I'll be absolutely amazed, and I'll fold like a deck of cards.

And Suzy: When I was 8, me and my friends used to play with G.I. Joes, plastic green army men, and acted out "War" with plastic capguns. Perhaps I was more advanced than todays 18-year-olds in my conception of the occupaion of a soldier?
posted by Perigee at 1:40 PM on April 2, 2003


I hope they do toss him in the brig for being AWOL.

They should do the same to this guy.
posted by homunculus at 1:48 PM on April 2, 2003


This Emory University student reservist plans to say he's either gay or a conscientious objector if he's called to serve.

Does anyone know the rationale behind C.O. punishment (reassignment vs. prison time)?
posted by Frank Grimes at 1:56 PM on April 2, 2003


Havent you seen those tv commercials for the Marines?
You get to wear a fancy uniform, have a sword and get to fight cg monsters!
posted by Iax at 2:07 PM on April 2, 2003


Now, if you can explain to me how you can believe signing up to be a soldier can happen without knowing what a soldier does having lived at least 18 years

Perhaps I was more advanced than todays 18-year-olds in my conception of the occupation of a soldier?


Perigee, you answered your own question, not everyone matures at an equal age. Personally I am with you, but to discuss the article going by it.

I hope they do toss him in the brig for being AWOL.
They should do the same to this guy.


No idea what were suppose to see on the link, but read the article, mentioned what is expected of him from the Marines with his decision now. No one is going to the brig as of present time. What makes anyone here decide his punishment if one is deserving for him, this is his job. What have you done wrong at work?

young Marine C.O Thought his rank was being addressed to, and C.O., I get it.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:12 PM on April 2, 2003


Soyjoy, I have done much research on this. Two famous poets, William Stafford and William Everson, introduced me to the concept. To this day it fascinates me how someone could declare co status in the face of someone like Hitler.

Absolutely fascinating stuff! Thanks for the link!
posted by filchyboy at 2:20 PM on April 2, 2003


Thom, you may be right... but if you are, that's about the most frightening thing I've Ever heard. I'd much prefer to believe it's impossible. But then again, looking at "Rain Man," I suppose we don't like to think people can really be that far off the beam.

The idea truly spooks me out.
posted by Perigee at 2:21 PM on April 2, 2003


It may sound odd on its face, but this happens a lot more than you'd think- and it doesn't even have to be wartime. When I was in Basic, I'd say a good half of the women in my platoon were there for job skills and college money. Though we'd already gone through several weeks of training that included pretty horrific training films making it clear that a soldier's job is often to go into combat, the day we had bayonet training was the day a lot of people finally, really got it.

Standing out on a field and charging dummies, being corrected on how to get a direct body shot instead of glancing off the side, getting pumped up with, "What makes the grass grow, private?" "Blood and guts make the grass grow, drill sergeant!" "What is your mission, private?" "Kill, kill, kill without mercy, drill sergeant!" - it never really hit home for a lot of people until then that they were teaching us to kill other human beings.

There was a lot of crying in the barracks that night, and four people in my platoon alone washed out that week. From what I understand, the same thing happens on the men's side of training as well, and it's almost always bayonet training that sets it off. War is a big, vast concept that's sometimes hard to digest, but when it's broken down to a single part, it suddenly becomes clear. I imagine that's what happened to this guy, based on what he said in his interview.
posted by headspace at 2:21 PM on April 2, 2003


When I was 8, me and my friends used to play with G.I. Joes, plastic green army men, and acted out "War" with plastic capguns.

And every time one of those GI Joes, plastic green army men, or kids with a capgun got hit, what happened? They went down, and stayed down, forever, right?

Sometimes living in a media-rich culture means one has less, not more, grasp of the truth.
posted by soyjoy at 2:21 PM on April 2, 2003


What's the problem here? Someone joined the military, and later has a revelation that hey, sometimes the military is actually activated and kills people, so that person decides it's not for him. The military has a system in place to deal with this ( conscientious objector ). When my unit was activated for action in Iraq and Kuwait 12 years ago, we had several people file for conscientious objector. One even after we had been there for a month.

It's mainly paperwork, you file, and the military tries to find out if you are serious, or you just don't want to be there. Of course, the problem being for active duty folks, most of the time while the military is deciding what to do with you, you have to stay with your current unit. And believe it or not, people in your unit do NOT like it if you try and get out of combat duty.
posted by patrickje at 2:22 PM on April 2, 2003


These Air Force commercials are typical of the type of marketing done by all branches of the U.S. military.

To answer your question, Ogre Lawless: Janitors, Nannies and Fry cooks aren't given images of exciting, fulfilling work before signing up, and aren't required to shoot at (or be shot by) other people. It would be great to see warnings like those required at the end of drug commercials. The warnings help bring reality to commercials that would otherwise be too one-sided, like military marketing is now.

"Studies have shown that joining the Marines may cause boredom, unreasonably high and tight haircuts, required killing of other people, and in rare instances, kid with his guts in his hands screaming for his mother."
posted by letitrain at 2:33 PM on April 2, 2003


No - although on occassion the green guys were melted to a green pool by a martian death-ray magnifying glass, and the G.I. Joes were infamous for losing hands and feet after about 8 months or so of play.

But it doesn't change the fact I knew what those guys were representative of, soy. And we had plenty of the real thing happening in Vietnam when I was 8.

I don't think I can remember a time when I didn't know what war was and what war brought. My Grandad was a full-bird in the Air Force, and my father a sergent in the Marines. Heck, my grandad had me set for the academy, flight training, officers training, the whole thing.

Once you counted up the bill, I would've been in the AF for a 10-year tour.

And in the end, I didn't take the job. Because I thought about what it was they would be training me to do, and at some point, I might have ended up having to do it. And I wasn't going to kill.

As it turns out, I would have, in Gulf War I. But I didn't because I knew what a soldier was, and didn't intend to make a living in an occupation which diametrically opposed everything I believe in.

The truth - what a soldier does - is painfully obvious. Perhaps its the grasp of morals that is in peril. Don't sign up to be a killer in peacetime, if you would not be a killer in wartime.
posted by Perigee at 2:40 PM on April 2, 2003


thanks, win_k, for sharing your perspective.
posted by serafinapekkala at 2:41 PM on April 2, 2003


Perigee, I'm glad you decided not to go through with the AF gig. Obviously that's what this kid should have done: thought this all through before signing up in the first place. But I still think you may have assumptions about what people in our culture have internalized, based on your own specific experience. Those of us who saw Vietnam on TV as children grew up, I think, with a little different picture of what war equals than did those who cut their teeth on the 1991 "video-game war."
posted by soyjoy at 2:45 PM on April 2, 2003


Soy, it's like I said to Thom: maybe it's possible that there are actually people that just can't look at the word "soldier" and automatically know the main purpose of the occupation. But that just weirds me out no end: it's like being a nitch-autistic - perfectly normal and rational except for a comb-filtered abyss on this one word definition.

I can't parse that - I feel like Charlie Babbit in "Rain Man." The concept that there's somebody out there that would sign up to be a soldier and not know what soldiers do... like I said earlier, it just crashes into Woody Allen absurdism for me.

And, in a way, I hope it's not true. I'd rather think this guy was caught up when his easy-money plan got snapped by a war than to think we have people out there that look like you and I, talk like you and I, but have these huge pockets of intellectual desolation on really, really primary concepts.

That really does spook me out. Sincerely.
posted by Perigee at 2:59 PM on April 2, 2003


Perigee, I'm glad you decided not to join up, too. And I think the way you reflected on and then rejected military service highlights what I'm talking about: not everyone has the maturity, philosophy, presence of mind, call it what you like, to make the decision you did at the outset.

I don't think late-to-the-game-COs don't know what soldiers do--it's that they think they're okay with the destruction and come to learn they're not. Must people be once pro-war, always pro-war? Under what circumstances is it acceptable for a person to become anti-war? Arguably, facing the horrors of combat is one of the most convincing inducements to an anti-war view.
posted by win_k at 3:08 PM on April 2, 2003


I realize it doesn't apply in this specific case, and patrickje's take was informative, but how does it work if say, you're an active member of the military and object to a specific conflict? I can envision someone not being opposed to the necessity of war in general, but not liking say, the war on Iraq for reasons of conscience. Can you request alternative service if you're ordered to deploy to a combat zone?
posted by Vidiot at 3:08 PM on April 2, 2003


Vidiot, I doubt it. Objecting to a particular war does not qualify one for CO status.
posted by win_k at 3:23 PM on April 2, 2003


"Boy Scouts?" The Marines?

Maybe the Navy? But The Marines?

No I don't think so...
posted by hawaiitron at 3:35 PM on April 2, 2003


win_k, thanks for sharing your own experience and stating it so well - yikes, with only a few months to go you must be nervous. Good luck to you!
posted by madamjujujive at 4:22 PM on April 2, 2003


Alright now this is silly. Cpl Funk has just decared he's gay

Now I'm against the war, and I've never agreed with the military's stance on gays however this guy should never have walked into a recruiters office in the first place
posted by bitdamaged at 5:50 PM on April 2, 2003


I can't parse that - I feel like Charlie Babbit in "Rain Man."

Well, you're starting sound like MattD in Unmitigated Gall. I think we got your point, we know how you feel.

I don't feel in a holier-than-thou, give 'em hellfire mood, myself, and I bet the kid gets a general discharge--which is fine with me.

You know most of the kids, the grunts at the bottom, they didn't join because they thought they were going to fight. A lot of them joined because it's a job--like today's tv news Iraq soap opera star Jessica Lynch, former captive.
She joined because she couldn't find a job.

The lack of career opportunities in Wirt County, where the largest employer is the school system and 15 percent of the population is unemployed, led Jessica into the Army, her father said. She signed up through the Army's delayed-entry program before graduating from high school.

Some join because they fell for the it's a stepping stone to a career, Be All That You Can Be rah rah. Stephen Funk no doubt expected to do an easy stint, as did a lot of others who joined. Or it's as win_k said....

And that's what the fly in the ointment is going to be--very few of these kids joined to get their ass blown away in some draft dodging neocon chickenhawk's wars of foreign adventure. Very few want to become Rangers. And if the occupation turns out to Lebanon, only the fact that the next Great Depression is going to keep troop strength up without a draft. Nobody's going to be going down to the recruiter's office after watching enough fedayeen attacks or suicide bombings in occupied Iraq. It's not just Tomahawk missiles that our military may run low on...
posted by y2karl at 7:19 PM on April 2, 2003


"Boy Scouts?" The Marines?

Maybe the Navy? But The Marines?

No I don't think so...


Hmmm, I think I'm going to take that to work tomorrow. Hey, guys, just think of this Navy thing as a lot like Boy Scouts. . .
posted by Lord Chancellor at 7:40 PM on April 2, 2003


I'm proud of the guy. Nobody should fight in a war they don't believe in. Nobody should kill because someone tells them they have to, or that it's the right thing to do. It never is, of course. What I wonder is, how many boys will become murderers because they are afraid to say no.

And if you think that these kids joined the service with any expectation of being dropped into a war, you're fooling yourself. They joined to get money for college, or to get job training.

Hypothetical question: If there was a governmental agency, similar to the Peace Corps in function, but equal to the armed forces in pay scale, benefits, training and entry requirements, the number of enlisted men would be anywhere near what it is?
posted by Hildago at 8:28 PM on April 2, 2003


Just try to figure out that last sentence without having a measure of THE Glenlivet inside you.
posted by Hildago at 8:30 PM on April 2, 2003


Would that would would wander back five words, ye say?
posted by y2karl at 9:32 PM on April 2, 2003


And if you think that these kids joined the service with any expectation of being dropped into a war, you're fooling yourself. They joined to get money for college, or to get job training.

No shit. The only people who join KNOWING that they will go to war are those that join DURING a war. Otherwise, it's a crap shoot. If you get lucky (like most armed forces people since 1974-5), you can serve out your term without any armed conflicts getting in your way. The military is a pretty good fucking deal at that point. But the cost of being trained for free, awesome benefits for yourself and your family, money for college, travel, etc. (all of which are better than the civilian job I currently have) is the possibly of having to fight for it.

I'm with Perigee. To think for a second that an 18 year old person isn't mature enough or whatever enough, to have a reasonable knowledge of the possibility of armed conflict is ridiculous. I don't doubt that some people find out that they just can't do it, no matter how hard they try to convince themselves. But don't claim that you didn't realize that you may have to....pppffft.
posted by Witty at 1:49 AM on April 3, 2003


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