This is my selective service number. I think of it when I read of
was conscripted kidnapped, to use his motherís appropriate
word into the Russian army on his way to work. Artyom
is 23 and was a journalist studying law prior to his conscription-kidnapping.
I turned 18 I received notice it was time to register for Selective
Service. A soon to be college student of a somewhat nationalist
bent, I duly complied and didnít think too much of the penalties
for non-registrants. (They seemed too draconian to be true, like
something out of Solzhenitsyn or Kafka.)
soon received my Registration Acknowledgement Card. The outside
label reads, "Hereís your official Registration Acknowledgement
Card." Below it is the number 18, the "1" a pencil
with a candlelight above it an obscene commemorative linkage in
a new millennium, and the Selective Service System remains. Also
in effect are the penalties: "If you do not register, you could
be prosecuted and fined up to $250,000 and/or be put in jail for
up to five years. Registration
is also a requirement to qualify for Federal student aid, job training
benefits, and most Federal employment."
appears so innocuous; after all, unlike Russia, the United States
government isnít seizing the young off streets to maintain hegemony
in Chechnya. "Just sign it and get it done with," says
isnít how a free society operates. Americaís sons arenít supposed
to be threatened with a quarter of a million dollar fine and half-decade
prison sentence for military abstention. Maybe a young manís father
or uncle or brother or friend died in one of Americaís several interventions
and resents the military. Maybe a young man just doesnít want to
expedite his conscription in the event of a draft.
unlikely that a non-compliant individual would be imprisoned and
fined to the fullest extent of the law, but thatís not the point.
The federal government says it could put an individual in
jail until his early twenties and render him an abject debtor. A
government that presumes such power has transcended legitimate purview;
and it is the presumption, not the potential for application, that
Service is not without congressional opposition. Representatives
Ron Paul and Pete Sparks have respectively introduced the Selective
Service Standby Act and Military Selective Service Repeal Act. Unfortunately,
their peers arenít hastening eitherís enactment.
reading of Artyomís kidnapping I removed my registration card from
my wallet. Itís not an act of civil disobedience. Registrants arenít
required to carry their cards.
Iím not going to burn my card in some vapid countercultural protest.
Iíll leave it on my desk, a reminder of the former Republic.
Kantor lives in Boynton Beach, Florida.