To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
I am one of the 169 people who staged an obstructive sit-in in front of the Newton draft board on Monday, May 18. The Newton police arrested each of us and charged us with being "disorderly persons"-a charge that carries with it a maximum penalty of six months in jail and/or a maximum fine of $200.
The purpose of our civil disobedience was to communicate our sincere opposition to the war in Indochina and to the Selective Service System which provides men for that war. When we appeared in the Newton courtroom I had the feeling that there were a great many people who supported our stand on the war but who were unwilling to condone even minor violations of the law.
I'd like to suggest that there is the possibility of taking direct action against the war and against the draft while remaining within the bounds of the law. The Shea bill is now Massachusetts law and it states quite explicitly that no inhabitant of the Commonwealth who is in the military forces shall he required to serve outside the territorial limits of the United States in hostilities not initially authorized or subsequently ratified by a formal declaration of war. In other words it is against the law at this time to force any Massachusetts man to fight in Vietnam or Laos or Cambodia.
We all know, however, that this law is not enforced and that the Supreme Court will probably yield to political pressure and declare it unconstitutional. At this time the question we should be asking ourselves is. "As long as the law is in effect how can we use it to protect the rights of draftees who are opposed to the war?"
People with legal training may be able to come up with some answer, but their arguments must be backed up by the pressure of public opinion. Men who are 1-A and their families should request the State Selective Service System to suspend operations until such time as the Federal government can guarantee that each Massachusetts man in the armed forces will receive the protection of the Shea bill.