The content on this blog is my personal opinion and does not reflect the views of the Department of Defense or the US Navy in any way.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

To Support and Defend

I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

That's the oath of office I took almost five years ago when I entered the Academy and again just last year when I was commissioned. (I did kind of skip over the last four words, as is common practice for atheist officers... or anyone with some form of political or religious objection to saying them.) I meant every word, and I still do, and I think the idea of any military officer not believing in and upholding this oath is ludicrous.

High school students, on the other hand...

Apparently Arizona's up to some interesting things again. According to a blog post on the Friendly Atheist blog, they're coming up with a bill that would require graduating seniors to take that same oath. (There are minor changes to the last bit, since they are not entering any specific office; otherwise, it is exactly the same.)

Really, my question boils down to: what is the point of this, again? It's not that I don't think having loyal citizens is important. I just don't think all of them need to be involved in actively defending the Constitution. Granted, I would hope they vote for people they expect to uphold the Constitution, but that's about the only activity the average person will engage in where such concerns matter.

On top of that, as many bloggers, news sites, and their commenters have pointed out, there is something seriously wrong with the idea of telling someone that they are taking an obligation of their own free will while simultaneously threatening them with adverse consequences if they don't take it. By which I mean they're completely contradictory; no one can swear this oath freely with the threat of not getting their diploma hanging over their heads. Anyone honorable enough to believe in and uphold the oath would therefore refuse to take it in the first place. If we're lucky, the people taking it are only going to be lying for that one part - if we're not, they don't mean any of it and any point in having it goes away.

And all that is without worrying about foreign exchange students or religious objectors. Adding those into this mess makes the whole thing even more of a poorly thought out debacle.

To put it bluntly: Let's not cheapen everyone's honor and our oaths with something like this.

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