Civil disobedience is more than just deciding not to follow the laws that inconvenience you – even if the inconvenience is having your ass shipped someplace where it’s likely to be shot at. Civil disobedience requires a principled believe that the law in question is morally wrong and a willingness to accept the consequences of refusing to follow that law.
So the whole “I don’t think it’s within the scope of government to require me to go to war” attitude is IMO bogus. It is clearly within the scope of the government to do exactly that, just as it’s within the scope of the government to require you to pay taxes regardless of whether or not you agree with the justice of a particular tax. So the legitimate position is not that government doesn’t have the authority to draft – it does – but rather that your personal morality will not allow you to participate in a war you believe is unjust (or, if you’re a true pacifist, in any war at all). Having reached that conclusion, you are IMO honor-bound to live with the consequences of that decision, to register with Selective Service, apply for CO status appropriately, and, if denied it, to go to jail. That is the way to say “I love my country and I will serve my country to the best of my ability, but this thing you ask, I cannot do.”
I find it bitterly ironic that a person who lives everyday with the enormous privileges of being an American would claim not to recognize the authority of the government to do something the government clearly can lawfully do. I assume you’re not living out in the woods with the radical libertarian freemen posse comitatus. I assume you recognize the authority of the government when it’s to your advantage to do so, like when you need the assistance of public services or want to use public facilities.
So tell us that you think the law is wrong, sure; at least then your position sounds prinicipled. But to try to deny the government’s authority to do this one thing, just because you don’t happen to like it, makes you sound like someone happy to enjoy the privileges of being an American, but unwilling to bear the responsibility when asked.
And let me also say – for like the 9000th time – how surpassingly stupid I find it when individuals say “I don’t recognize the authority of the government to do X.” Well, guess what? YOU don’t decide the authority of the government. If the elected representatives of this country collectively decide to give the authority to do a given thing to the government, and that delegation of authority is not unlawful, then, yes, the government DOES have that authority. For someone to stand there and shrill “They can’t do that!” is idiotic because quite obviously, yes, they can.
“The government can’t make me get a license.” “The government can’t make me pay taxes.” “The government can’t enter my house without my permission, under any circumstances.” “The government can’t take my property without my permission, under any circumstances.” “The government can’t require me to register for the draft.” In the happy land of your mind, where you are king, maybe; but here in the real world: Yes it can. The bald assertion that it can’t makes you look as disconnected from reality as the many, many individuals (tax protestors, “freemen,” petty criminals) who claim from their jail cells that the government doesn’t have the authority to put them in jail.
he he he … in the context of staving off the reinstatement of the draft, yes: the SDMSB is a circle jerk. Everey bit as effective at causing real change as all the discussions had by The People’s Front of Judea in THE LIFE OF BRIAN. We can sit here ALL DAY LONG and badger each other about our own ideas…end end up getting drafted–even those of us who have already served if it suits the whim of our current despot. That’s all I meant by the remark. you don’t wanna get drafted? Tell someone who MATTERS with respect to that process.
**if you join the army under any branch, you might fight anyway. The people who do this are facing the risk(s) of being called to fight and/or violating a personal belief in pacifism (or any religion that requires that believers kill absolutely nobody for any reason).
I think we’re on the same page here. I recall with absolute disgust a scene that made the news when we were deploying to the first Gulf War. It was a guy who had been given orders to deploy and started bucking to get out–he actually had the gall to say he had only joined for the college money, and that he didn’t want to go to a war. He was actually indignant that his desires weren’t being respected by Uncle Sam.
And I’d like you to point out where I actually said, “that the ONLY way to protect freedom is to fight in a war” or even implied this was the case? If taken within the context of the post, you will understand that I was elevating anti-American combatants in Iraq above draft-dodging Americans based on their willingness to make sacrifices for their beliefs. Please don’t misquote me. Of course, it was rather a poorly constructed paragraph. I was in a fit of passion at the time…
If being offered choices is a great thing, why is the choice of leaving so heinous? None of us asked to be born here. Patriotism is as much a divider as it is a uniter. Socrates was dead on when he said “I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.”
Plenty of countries enjoy our freedoms. Some enjoy even more. In some regards, our country has been a trendsetter in the area of human rights. In others, not so. We were far from the first to abolish slavery.
No, but I do see oppressed homosexuals and medical marijuana patients heading to Canada in search of a government that’s more tolerant of their “crimes.” The U.S. is great, but it’s not a utopia. Victimless crimes crawl their way through the criminal court systems every moment of every day. Hardly sounds free to me.
Defending our borders does not equate with running around the world fighting wars that are none of our business, then installing leaders who end up being just as bad as their predecessors. It also does not involve hailing some oppresive governments as our dear allies and others as sworn enemies.
Ooh! Go to war and take the lives of foreigners with whom I have no beef personally, many of whom may have been drafted themselves and don’t want to fight, and who aren’t even threatening our borders OR go to jail and get raped. Wow! Talk about freedom! That makes me burst with so much pride that I almost feel like composing a patriotic country song!
I think I’d rather go to a Canada that has a longstanding history of welcoming draft dodgers with open arms. If I get hit by a car there while smoking a joint on the walk home from attending a gay wedding, at least I’ll have free health care.
“…and yet chose not to take their lumps according to the laws under which they have chosen to live.”
C’mon Star, read the post! I acknowledge things ain’t perfect here. But if you live in the US and have objections to the way thinks are done in the US, you have a choice: Go to war (in a metaphorical sense against what it is that bugs you) or go to jail (again, metaphorical meaning you can relenquish your citizenship and go elsewhere). If Canada suits you, go NOW and enjoy the freedoms you can get THERE and let us all know how happy you are having made the decision for youself–but I take exception to anyone sitting HERE and griping about how green the grass is over THERE when they don’t attempt to improve things HERE.
As for something beyond our borders not being our business, that kind of attitude is like ignoring a tiger in the next room in your house because, hey, it’s not in YOUR room.
Jodi, I cannot see it in such absolute terms. I think we all have duties towards groups we belong to (family, city, state, country, religion, etc) as well as to general principles of morality, ethics, etc. I do not have any sympathy for anyone who shirks his responsibilities out of selfishness but it is a fact that people find themselves in moral dilemmas where they have to make very difficult choices. Should you turn in your brother or your spouse who you know is breaking the law? It is not an easy choice to make.
Now, if someone has come to the conclusion that what his country is demanding is immoral, I do not see why he should go to jail for refusing to do it. I think it is perfectly legitimate morally and otherwise to say “I believe this is immoral and I shall not do it” and go to Canada where he is not required to do what he considers immoral. As long as his motivation is a sincere ethical objection and not selfishness, I have no problem. I do not see he is under any obligation to go to jail for following his beliefs. I think ethics, morality and humanity should come before your country or your family and you should not feel an obligation to go to jail for following them. I would not help my brother rape a woman or steal money. I would not help my country kill innocent people. Suppose a Chinese man requested asylum in the USA because he refused to execute political prisoners. Would you hold it against him? I wouldn’t.
Moral conflicts are never easy. We have obligations towards country and towards morality but I say we should put our morality first. The country on the other hand has to put the law above everything and it is right in imposing jail sentences on those who break the law. If your religion prevents you from vaccinating your child then that is what you should do and if the paw mandates it then the government should enforce it. But there is nothing wrong with moving a a country better suited to your morality.
I recognise that moral choices are often very difficult. One does not give up family, friends and country easily. But I see no obligation to stay and go to jail. If one wants to do it as a way of witnessing then good for him, but I do not think anyone is under the obligation to do it.
The whole question is moot, because there is not and will not be a draft. The American people don’t want a draft, Congress doesn’t want a draft, the Pentagon doesn’t want a draft, the Department of Defense doesn’t want a draft, and the Bush Administration doesn’t want a draft. Ergo, there will be no draft.
Please point out government officials who advocate a draft. OK, Charles Rangel. But he doesn’t actually advocate a draft, he was simply doing a bit of political theater. Now name some more. Uh…
There isn’t going to be a draft, so everyone posturing about how they will courageously resist the fascists by refusing to be drafted are simply playing make believe.
Did I mention that there isn’t going to be a draft?
I spoke only to the OP. Persons with religious convictions do no harm. I take exception with those who will don a mantle of religiosity when it suits their cause du jour.
Revtim If everyone could take their personal exception to either (a) a standing military force and/or (b) timely supplements to a volunteer service as required, I must beg the question: what defense have we? Holiday cards saying Don’t do that mailed to nations likely to cause conflict aren’t going to be a strong deterrent.
Doebi You’re correct. The OP stated that he would prefer jail to serving the Country that affords him his freedom. My bad. The military cannot be expected to function based upon situational ethics and optional participation. “OK-How many of you want to go on this mission?” “I’m sorry, Mr. President, the troops voted no.” Perhaps I’m an old style thinker, in that if you choose to live here, adherence to the laws of the Nation are concurrent with said choice.
I can’t. I took the test online and I don’t score enough points for them to want me. Even if I could, it costs money. Even if I had money, my wife wants to be near her family here. So I’m stuck. That’s not to say that I don’t love my country. They got most of it right. The land is beautiful and the variety of accents, cultures, and foods among the citizenry is wonderful. It’s all these laws based on someone’s idea of morality, rather than what actually causes tangible harm to other people, that bug the hell out of me.
Unfortunately, I’m no activist and I’m not very good at changing peoples’ minds, so, aside from voting, I don’t do much. As for the draft, well, it’s in the damn Constitution (the remaining 99% of which is an excellent document). Unless my life is threatened (and not by being dropped into a warzone), I could not kill a person. I cannot imagine how a government that claims its citizens are free could force them, by law, to pick up a gun and actually kill a man.
I mean, they say the 13th Amendment doesn’t apply to the draft, but I’d much rather be a slave for four years and get whipped every now and then, than be forced to brutally kill and risk being killed by strangers in another land.
I might support a draft in a case of dire emergency, such as a full scale invasion of the U.S. or a World War. But Vietnam? Iraq? Hell no.
There are a hell of a lot of tigers in the world. And Iraq and Vietnam aren’t in the next room. Is it our responsibility to hunt them all? Should we draft the whole country and blast the entire Axis of Evil to smithereens? Should we blast them again when the new leaders revert to the old ways?
I’m a little confused by this concept that it’s okay to break the law so long as you plan on going to jail. Does that just apply to draft dodgers? If I kill my neighbor, but turn my self in and plead guilty, does that make it okay that I killed him? Going to jail isn’t an alternative to getting drafted, it’s a punishment for refusing to get drafted. I don’t see where breaking the law and running is any more immoral than breaking the law and getting caught.
Naw, if I’m ever drafted, I’m out of this nation. I like America, don’t get me wrong, but ultimately, it’s just the place where I keep all my stuff. I ain’t dying for it. You can call me selfish. You can call me a coward. You can call me a traitor. So long as I’m alive to hear you say it, you can call me any damn thing you want.
Draft, schmaft. The wars of the future will not be fought on the battlefield or at sea. They will be fought in space, or possibly on top of a very tall mountain. In either case, most of the actual fighting will be done by small robots. Your duty will be clear: To build and maintain those robots.
Just to be clear, I do not see an obligation to go to jail because the law says so. There is a something strange about agreeing to go to jail when you don’t think you’ve done anything wrong. In general, if a person commits civil disobedience, s/he might choose to go to jail to “outrage the conscience of the community” or to express a high respect for the process of the law, even if you disagree with a particular law. This is the position of Martin Luther King Jr…
Another reason to go to jail is to impose a high cost on enforcing the law, and thus force change.
But I agree with Howard Zinn, scholar of civil disobedience, that there is no requirement that a person follow the law and accept their punishment as just. Disagree with the law, disagree with the punishment. You are all sharp people, so I will leave it to your imagination to come up with an example of why uniform acceptance of punishment is absurd.
Just one proviso, however, I generally don’t think it is a good idea to try to achieve your ends by deception, however. If your goal is civil disobedience, you are saying that a law is not just. You can’t do this by lying and getting out on a loophole.
Jail or Canada do fulfill the requirements of civil disobedience, and I have respect for people who choose either. I think, however, that jail is more effective in achieving change in the law. Were the situation different, however, what is effective may be reversed.
What do you propose we say? People have rights, and I happen to believe those rights are not granted by the government, but are an inalienable part of being human. A violation of those rights by the government is exactly what it means to surpass the authority of the government. There is a necessity, even in a democracy, to protect the rights of the individual.
Civil disobedience is one way in which those rights are asserted, particularly in a democracy. You are welcome to say I don’t have the particular rights I have asserted I have. I disagree with the anti-tax nuts’ assertion that a hypothetical absolute right to property somehow prohibits taxation. I simply don’t think people have an absolute right to property. But if we have rights at all, surely a person has the right to not fight in a war against their will.
They may not do that. Better? How do you propose we express dissent from the policy of the government if we admit the government is justified in doing anything it is physically able to do? “They can’t do that” is not an expression of what “they” are able to do, but clearly an expression of what the government should be able to do. Is this really confusing to you?
Yes, let’s hope you are correct. There are, however, obviously contingency plans (despite the assurance to the contrary), since the SSS still exists. If planners could come up with no circumstances under which a daft would be implemented, why would legislators keep it around? The push to fill vacancies in the draft boards indicate to me that planners are seeing those circumstances as more likely than they were.
I fail to see the moral dilemma here. SHORT was asked to register with Selective Service – just like every other young man in America. That’s all. He wasn’t asked to do anything other than fill out a form. IMO, no moral dilemma exists until such time as he is drafted or in some imininent danger of being drafted, at which point the government has a procedure in place by which he can explain that for reasons of conscience, he cannot fight. IMO, the government asked you for a service – demands it, actually, by law – then you render that service to the extent that you can and at the point you no longer can, you explain why and take your lumps. IMO part of civil disobedience is standing up and saying “I am disobeying, and this is why.” Flying under the radar and hoping you don’t get caught isn’t civil disobedience. It’s rationalizing why you’re not doing something you simply don’t want to do. SHORT has a moral dilemma when he’s asked to pick up a gun; he has no moral dilemma until then. Unless he’s morally opposed to filling out forms.
There is a difference between affirmatively breaking a law and simply refusing to follow one, which takes no overt action on the part of the refuser. And there’s a difference between taking a stand on principle that does no harm to any other individual, and breaking a law intended to protect the health and safety of other individual citizens. And there’s a difference between standing up and saying “I won’t do this” openly and honestly and “getting caught.” If the government catches up to SHORT for failing to register with Selective Service – highly unlikely – he will have “gotten caught.” At which point, you’re right, he has no more of the moral high ground than any other person caught doing a crime, because any moral basis he will claim at that point (after being caught) will seem like any obvious after-the-fact rationalization.
How on earth do you square this with your position of quietly failing to register and then hoping the government doesn’t catch up to you until it’s too late? The government says, “Young men, stand up and be counted.” You slip out the back door. You don’t think that’s, if not deceptive, at least not entirely honorable? You don’t think playing the odds and praying the government doesn’t find you isn’t “getting out on a loophole”?
That is a lovely thought, and one I happen to ascribe to myself – on a philosophical level. But the cold reality is that people have such rights as they collectively (through their governments) decide they have, and no others. A right that is not recognized by at least enough people to insist on having it, is only an idea. Which is why you can nobly reel off a laundry list of “inalienable rights” belonging to people in, say, Saudi Arabia, and it will have nothing whatsoever to do with the rights Saudis actually have. Especially Saudi women.
Besides which, and more to the point, you were not talking about rights, as philosophical ideas or as granted by societal consensus. You were talking about the authority of the government. You know: Authority; as in the power to do something, assigned by one (like the citizens) to another (like the government). Authority: as in the apparent ability, legal and factual, to do a given thing. It is inarguable that the government has the authority to institute registration for the draft. To attempt to argue that they do not – and that based on a right you do not have in our society, and in fact have never had in our society – is, not to mince words, stupid.
If had this argument before, with dozens of people ranging from some chick here on the boards who wanted to argue she has the “right” to drink liquor in a titty bar 24/7, to so-called “freemen” who wanted to argue that they had the right to do any darn thing they could think of, from carry a loaded gun into a federal court house to drive on the public roads without a license. You don’t have the right you claim to have. Saying you have it doesn’t make it so. Heck, if you’re just making rights up, make up the right to a million bucks and a new car.
A person has the right to refuse to fight in a war against their will – once they are asked to do so. Not before, when slithering away just makes it less likely they’ll be asked to do so, as every other person in their class may be asked. And IMO if a person refuses to do something they are lawfully asked to do, then they should take their lumps. I guess I have no quarrel with those who would rather move away; they are no longer reaping the benefits of living in the country they are refusing to assist in the manner asked. Though my reaction to them does remain, don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out. But then, I don’t see you explaining the part about when you moved to Canada.
Well, not. Because they may do it as well. “Can” connotes ability. “May” connotes authority. The government has both.
Who said anything about admitting the government is justified in doing anything it can do? You express dissent by standing up and saying “this law is wrong, and I will not follow it, and these are the reasons.” Do you think quietly evading the draft is “expressing dissent”? You’re not expressing anything; you’re just hoping you don’t get caught.
“They can’t do that” is not an expression of what “they” are able to do, but clearly an expression of what the government should be able to do. Is this really confusing to you?[/quoe]
I think I’m pretty clear on it, but then I’m not the one who thinks “they can’t do that” and “they shouldn’t be able to do that” are synonymous.
You do not have the right to choose to avoid or ignore laws you personnally disagree with. The is not the cafeterial plan of governance – one from column A, one from column B, and a side of fried rice. The tacit contract that each of us makes as adults in a democratic society is that we will allow our representatives to make laws on our behalf, with our implied approval and our explicit authorization, and then we will obey those laws. If we disagree with the laws, we can work to change them, or we can refuse to obey them on principle and in a manner that makes that principle manifest, so that we don’t look like we’re just avoiding a law because we don’t like it. Is this really confusing to you?
I would respectfully suggest that the only thing the whole world knows for sure is that people like you think that the whole world agrees with you, but I rather think that a sizeable percentage of the whole world would prefer to tell you you’re dreaming. Given the opportunity, truckloads of emigrants choose countries other than the USA to move to. Most importantly, almost the entire Middle East on through to Pakistan has nothing but contempt for the USA at the moment.
And let’s not overlook those 1.2 billion souls in China, shall we? I suspect they’d have opinions which might deflate your ego a tad as well. Same for India too.
Nowhere near the whole world after all that, is it? And those 650,000 souls who have lost their lives to handgun wounds in the USA since the death of John Lennon? That doesn’t sell too well either I’m afraid. A shitload of people in the whole world talk about that though - as a reason why NOT to go the USA.
And where should they go? Australia? Because you guys are so friendly to immigrants. Your general point is valid, but try fixing the human rights abuses and racism in your own country before nailing ours. We’re not the only regional superpower shirking responsibilities.
As for the draft, I had to register, as a female, because the government got my name and gender wrong. That doesn’t give me much hope of a draft going smoothly. :rolleyes: