Conscription is wrong

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January 9, 2013

Dear Sir,

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to respond to an article which appeared recently in The Royal Gazette entitled, ‘Conscription must end, but not now’. First let me say that every now and then an article is written, an opinion expressed in support of conscription that is so backward, so unintelligent that it actually helps our cause. Under normal circumstances there is no need to respond. However, when that article is written by the acting Editor of the only daily in the Island it indeed warrants a response. The thrust of the article was that conscription should not end now because that might exacerbate current social problems. More specifically poor education, youth unemployment and gang violence. Nothing could be further from the truth as there is absolutely no empirical evidence whatsoever to support such an assertion.

There is abundant evidence which proves conscription contributes to the demise of society rather than having a positive impact. That is not to say that no good comes from this system. But that good is far outweighed by the bad. How many young men have gone to Warwick Camp who did not smoke, drink or curse excessively yet by the end of boot camp are doing all of the above. That’s not to mention the “extra-curricular activities” that take place especially on overseas trips. Therefore to suggest that such a system which has a most corrupting influence, which violates so many fundamental human rights, and has brought so much suffering to so many should not be abolished as soon as possible borders on insanity. To suggest that by taking a young man’s right from him and forcing him into an extremely hostile and abusive environment is beneficial to him and society is equally absurd. That’s not education but victimisation.

It is an abuse of power which has no place in the 21st Century or any century for that matter. Are we to believe that an institution which allows officers to call conscripts all types of vulgar names, physically abuse them and viciously exploit their human rights cannot be brought to an end immediately because that would adversely affect society?

I think not. Conscription should end yesterday because it is wrong. Period!

* It is wrong to deny a man the right to freedom of movement.

* It is wrong to deny a man the right to freedom of conscience.

* It is wrong to deny a man the right to freedom of speech.

* It is wrong to deny a man the right to freedom of assembly.

* It is wrong to deny a man the right to freedom of association.

It is wrong to deny a man the right to a decent wage for “service to his country”. Yet with the current system of forced, cheap labour is allowed leading to a most unfair system. And to put this in perspective consider the incredible disparity between the wages of a conscript and the top officer in the Regiment. The former receives a measly $5.98 an hour while the latter receives about $80 an hour. That cannot be right. Then factor into the equation the ridiculous fine system which robs many because of the smallest infraction. Yet the editorial foolishly suggested that conscription helps society deal with youth unemployment. With all due respect if that’s the case let’s bring back slavery when there was no unemployment in the black community. As far as conscription being a remedy for gang violence that is the piece de resistance of the article. So we continue to draft gang members and then teach them to be more efficient in assembling and firing a high powered rifle. I think I get it.

LARRY MARSHALL SR

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Published Jan 10, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Jan 9, 2013 at 7:41 pm)

Conscription is wrong

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