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Letter November 27, 1918 from John Nevin Sayre to Editors of "The Dial"
they were courtmartialed, although luckier comrades, who held exactly the same point of view, had been sent to work on various farms. A very few men are extreme absolutists, who felt that even to accept the farm furlough offered them by the Board of Inquiry, was to acknowledge the right of the State to conscript them for military service.
Another small group is composed of men adjudged insincere by the Board of Inquiry and ordered to accept either combatant or noncombatant service. This last group is particularly interesting because in spite of brutal treatment in guardhouse at Fort Riley and Camp Funston, and the threat of courtmartial, they have steadfastly refused to accept noncombatant service. This simple fact would seem to refute the charge that these men were insincere.
The immediate need of the situation is that people should urge the Government
1. To at once reform the brutalities of its treatment to all prisoners, irrespective of whether they are conscientious objectors or not;
2. To recognize that there is a distinction between acts committee in selfish crime, and those that were urged by conscience. In many European countries political prisoners are not treated as criminals. They ought not to be so treated here.
In the end, there can be no righteous solution of this thing, short of pardon. The inequities of the treatment of conscientious objectors for what is at bottom the same offence [sic], is in itself a scandal. For instance: Two men whose course of action was identically the same, received – the one 5 years, the other 25. A third man was first condemned to death and then the sentence was set aside, and ultimately he was granted a farm furlough. These arbitrary acts are the natural effects of the attempt to penalize men for