Conscription and Conscientious Objectors Essay

Submitted By damii23
Words: 1717
Pages: 7

Frankie Donahue
19 February 2003
WR 121, Sec 20
Conscientious Objector

In 1661, conscientious objection was first recognized in America (Schlissel 28). The Quakers in Massachusetts were termed men with “tender conscience (Schlissel 28)” and were relieved from every duty to bear arms when dealing with the Indians. Throughout history conscientious objection has become more prominent. The American Revolution, Civil War, both World Wars, and the Cold War had conscientious objectors. The peak numbers for objection occurred during Vietnam when over 470,000 men claimed to be conscientious objectors and 170,000 of them were actually granted a conscientious objector deferment (Tollefson 6). Also, throughout history, the process to claim conscientious objector status has evolved. In 1948, the Selective Service Act was passed that made believing in a Supreme Being a requirement to apply to be a conscientious objector. Then in 1970, the belief in a Supreme Being was repealed and the reasons were changed to provide for any “objection based on a deeply held and coherent ethical system with no reference to a Supreme Being” (Columbia). This remains the current requirement; however, unlike during Vietnam era, today more of the country is in support of the military action. In a current CBS News poll, 70% of the voters said that they believe the United States is justified in taking action against Iraq (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/02/07/opinion/polls/main539763 .shtml). Even though the majority of the public is supportive of military action, there are still many protests and history has demonstrated there will again be conscientious objectors. If a draft is enacted, conscientious objectors should not be able to avoid it because they receive the same benefits from the country; however, they should be able to avoid being combatant. One must understand that there are three types of conscientious objectors. First is the conscientious objector who only refuses to be in combat. This objector is willing to join the military; however, he refuses to participate in any actions that deal with combat. When applying to be a conscientious objector, the person is classified with a “1-A-0 status” (Moskos 61). This states that the person will go into a noncombatant position. The second category includes people who refuse to join any military branch. These people are against the military in general and will not participate in the service. These objectors are given a “1-0 status” (Moskos 61). Thirdly are those objectors who refuse to be drafted in any way, including community service. These people do not have a certain claim status. These people are the most difficult to deal with because they are not willing to serve the country in which they live. It is not fair for conscientious objectors to be able to avoid the draft. Every person who lives in this country has certain rights and freedoms that they are entitled to because they live in this country. People who live here believe in freedom and expect to have their specific freedoms. These freedoms, referenced in the Constitution, include freedom of speech, press, the right to bear arms, the right to a trial by jury, protection from cruel and unusual punishment. As a person living in the United State of America one is automatically guaranteed these fundamental rights. To ensure these freedoms are not abolished by another country the military was formed. The military protects the country to keep everyone safe. It does not seem fair that people can avoid helping the military; yet, they still enjoy the freedoms of living in America. Some people only claim to be a conscientious objector to benefit themselves. Technically, this is not allowed; however, to apply to be a conscientious objector the process is very simple. All that a person must do is interview with the local board. He must provide written proof about how he arrived at his beliefs and how these beliefs influence his life. If…