What is it Good For?
May 15, 2003 5:44 AM   Subscribe

On International Conscientious Objectors' Day, four men explain the very different reasons why they refused to fight in four very different conflicts.
posted by Blue Stone (16 comments total)
International Conscientious Objectors Day.. a nice change from the Do As We Say festival, also known as Loyalty Day.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:06 AM on May 15, 2003

Man I still don't get it how people join the Marines thinking all they're going to learn is "leadership skills and Boy Scout things like tying knots.".
posted by PenDevil at 6:14 AM on May 15, 2003

Interesting stories - thanks Blue Stone.
posted by plep at 6:20 AM on May 15, 2003

We have some of those yellowbellies to thank for the survival, and growth, of smokejumping during WWII.
posted by liam at 6:20 AM on May 15, 2003

I'll be combining these "insert something here day" celebrations today. join me for International Ride Your Bike Over A Conscientious Objector Day.
posted by quonsar at 7:10 AM on May 15, 2003

Thanks for the link, Blue Stone. When the rubber hits the road the unexpected is fair game, still.
posted by yoga at 7:27 AM on May 15, 2003

heh. scope out the google ads.
posted by quonsar at 7:31 AM on May 15, 2003

I don't get that last kid. One of the first things they ask is, are you a conscientious objector? He willing went into a situation knowing there was a possibility he would have to fight and leave home. He probably got scared when he found out he was being deployed and decided to go UA (unauthorized absence).

The USMC does in fact teach leadership skills, but their method of teaching is not for everybody and this kid is a perfect example. He should have went into the army, air force, or the navy where they have non-deployable non-combat jobs. . .
posted by Cool Alex at 7:45 AM on May 15, 2003

Thanks, Blue Stone, great post.

I was among a group of boys taken for military training in 1945 and then lined up and asked to fight. I said: 'Hitler is an evil man and I won't volunteer.'

Now, that's guts. All I had to do in 1969 America was write an essay and send in some forms. Those of us who live in the U.S. are incredibly lucky, despite it all. Try being a C.O. in most countries of the world.

And yeah, I don't get the last guy either.
posted by languagehat at 8:13 AM on May 15, 2003

I'm a pacifist and opposed to participating in any conflict.

Wow, Compared to the acts of moral resolve and bravery of the other 3 COs, this guy is a complete jerk. If you are a pacifist opposed to conflict DON'T JOIN THE military!

And YES I said bravery. I'm sorry, but staring at a Nazi officer at 16 and saying "I won't kill for Hitler" takes more guts than anyone here has. Being willing to go into combat to save lives instead of killing is brave. Going to jail and facing retribution from your comrades instead of participating in an unjust war is admirable.

Whining like Private Benjamin because you thought you joined a different army with condos and oceanfront property is spoiled and delusional.
posted by evilcupcakes at 8:27 AM on May 15, 2003

spoiled and delusional.

Kids are spoiled and delusional. You can't expect an 18 year old to apply the same kind of wisdom to this decision that you would, because they haven't learned it yet.

Mr. Funk says it himself: " I was depressed and not thinking clearly." And later: "Boot camp made me think about my attitudes to violence." He's growing up and forming opinions about things, and he finds that those opinions conflict with decisions he has already made. Well, what is he supposed to do? Looks like he's chosen to do the honourable thing and face up to the consequences of his actions, whatever those consequences are, by filing the conscientious objector paperwork and then turning himself in. You can argue all you want about the degree of courage this requires relative to the other men in the profile, but that's irrelevant; he's dealing with the circumstances he finds himself in, and "jerk" just doesn't fit.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:05 AM on May 15, 2003

More discussion of Stephen Funk here. Can this thread focus instead on the general CO phenomenon instead of this one exceptional example?
posted by soyjoy at 10:19 AM on May 15, 2003

As a former Marine, I admire all these men except the last one.

Sorry, but you do not join the Marines thinking you aren't going to train in weapons and how to kill people.

Every Marine is trained as an Infantryman first and foremost. Every job in the Marines directly supports the Infantry in one way or another.
posted by da5id at 11:56 AM on May 15, 2003

Kids are spoiled and delusional. You can't expect an 18 year old to apply the same kind of wisdom to this decision that you would, because they haven't learned it yet.

Huh. Seems that he shouldn't be able to vote, either. Damn good thing he can't legally get a drink, too. Shouldn't he be forced to be at home with mommy and daddy until the law says he's good and ready when he's, like, 30 or something? I mean, if he's not responsible for his decisions because he can't process basic information like "Marine=solider=someone who may have to kill or be killed," they probably shouldn't be let out of the house without adult supervision.

Everyone makes dumb mistakes, but there is a point when you become responsible for them, and you don't usually get to pick the time for themselves.
posted by Snyder at 12:45 PM on May 15, 2003

posted by Snyder at 1:39 PM on May 15, 2003

I first thought that no. 4 was a bit of a fool, jerk even but Mars Saxman's right. He made a mistake and did his best rectify it, despite the social stigma.

OK, it's still possible he's just a chickenshit with no real moral opposition to violence but the way he describes his thought process, I don't think so. Moral courage against the consensus beats physical, socially acceptable bravery every time.

Someone mentioned Vietnam and that raises an interesting paradox: if serving was against the consensus then it follows that those who idealistically volunteered deserve a similar respect to the COs mentioned.
posted by pots at 4:24 PM on May 15, 2003

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