If you have not seen it recently, the Selective Service, the agency tasked with registering all male citizens at eighteen for the draft, has gone from providing basic information, updates, and military history on Twitter to defending its own existence. And they have become quite the punching bag for pacifists, anti-war activists, Libertarians, and those generally opposed to being pressed into service against their will. A recent post by the agency, coupled with a follow-up summation, is a beautiful snapshot of its inability to defend its purpose and the severity of the disdain that people hold for it.
Poor Argument Meets Harsh Response
On January 28th, the Selective Service tweeted a picture of someone in handcuffs, saying:
Some people don’t want to register because they think “laws and government suck.” But truth be told, failure to register is punishable by a fine up to $250,000 and imprisonment up to 5 years. Also, failure to register results in a lifetime of denied benefits. #MythBusters
The ratio of comments to retweets and likes combined (3.5:1), should be all we need to see, but the level of ferociousness that many displayed in response is a sight to behold.
Some responses laid out explicit objections to the Selective Service. As one respondent stated, with a clip from Braveheart:
Benefits? Like PTSD, Missing limbs, missing eyes, death. Yea I’m glad I signed up for SS that way when you thugs start shooting up Iran you can draft me into your God forsaken war. Take your damn benefits you have nothing that wasn’t taken from my brothers, sisters and I by force
Others went straight for the jugular, calling the Selective Service an example of fascism:
To paraphrase: “We own you, and will use you as cannon fodder and kill you whenever we please.” This is fascism, but when asked why they threaten and subjugate you in this fashion, they’ll reply that it’s to protect “freedom.”
Unlike most online debates, there does not appear to be many who want to come to the aid of the Selective Service.
In response to the backlash, the agency quoted their original tweet, adding, “In other words, even if you don’t like the law, you should follow the law. Later in life, you will regret your decision to not register.”
John Osterhoudt, a video producer at Reason, summed up the addition perfectly, tweeting, “In more accurate words, ‘we’ll violently imprison you if you don’t submit to our will.’”
An Unjust Law is No Law at All
Osterhoudt’s summation points out the flaw in the Selective Service’s meager logic. Defending conscription is difficult, if not impossible, but, if it must be done, it mus be an argument based on historical precedent and national need. The government’s current argument is based on the idea that submission to a law, regardless of its morality, is necessary. Not because of civic or national duty, but because the consequences are so severe that submission is a matter of survival.
What the person running the Selective Service’s Twitter account and, by proxy, the Selective Service itself fail to understand is that their argument is not an argument at all. It is a mindless threat of violence. What is more troubling is that it comes from an agency that continues to advocate itself as a safeguard of freedom. This is hard to reconcile with its principal purpose: involuntary servitude.
Declare Your Independence and Abolish Conscription
Government agencies are virtually impossible to eliminate. If they perform poorly or fail entirely, the usual response is to increase its budget, although this is hardly a solution. But, if a government agency is at the point that it must justify itself through innocuous repetitions of consequences, should a citizen reject participation, it has more than lost its way. Rather than perpetuating this exercise in submission to government authority, cloaked in farcical liberty, let us abolish the draft and adopt a foreign policy based on peaceful diplomacy and free trade, rather than aggression and intervention.
Maintaining conscription is based on policies that beg for war, refuse to acknowledge peace, and ultimately reinforces the belief that the government reigns supreme, without a thought given to the individuals who fall prey to its authority. For Independence Day, let us reject such policies and find the one representative among us who will work to bring about the end of conscription in the United States.