Inconvenient truths in poetry and uncomfortably strange heroics were one thing, but in 1917, Siegfried Sassoon crossed a line that the British government could not easily overlook.
Devastated by yet another death - this time his friend David Cuthbert - and egged on by philosopher Bertrand Russell, Sassoon suddenly embraced the tenets of pacifism.
He threw the ribbon from his Military Cross into the River Mersey. Then found a depressing symbolism in the fact that it was too lightweight to sink in those mighty tidal waters.
In a letter sent to his commanding officer, and read out in the House of Commons, he accused the British establishment of secret hawkishness.
Government and generals alike were prolonging hostilities unnecessarily, at the cost of millions of lives and misery. They were peddling 'a war of defence and liberation', which was really one of 'aggression and conquest'. In consequence, Sassoon wrote that he was 'finished with the war' and hereby resigned his commission.
Had he been anybody else, Siegfried would have risked court martial. The penalty for which ranged from imprisonment with hard labor through to being shot at dawn. There were certainly isolated MPs irritated into calling for the latter.
But cooler minds prevailed, spelling out precisely the dilemma which David Lloyd George's government now faced.
Siegfried Sassoon was just too popular, too well-known. He was a decorated hero, who had exhibited startling courage under fire. His poetry touched chords in the national psyche, which no politician could ever hope to achieve.
If punished, they risked a backlash from the British population. If left unchecked, there was a strong possibility that the poet's talent could be used to further the arguments of pacifism, while undermining public trust in the government.
For a moment there, it seemed that the former was the lesser of two evils.
His friend, and fellow poet, Robert Graves came up with a solution. To the annoyance of Siegfried himself, the suggestion was made that he was suffering from shell-shock. The panicking British government immediately grabbed the compromise. Sassoon was sectioned and sent to Craiglockhart War Hospital for Officers, as if he really was thus afflicted.