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Hell No We Won’t Go!

Written by Darrell Anderson.

Events of the past few years has increased interest and discussion about the military selective service process. Yet, few people know where to turn for answers. The Selective Service System has its own web site, but like most statist sponsored web sites (and bureaucratic agencies in general), the site is void of actual citations of statutory or regulatory standing. A man has to do his own hunting to discover the actual statutes and regulations. However, a man can read the text of the Selective Service Act, and amendments, at 50a USC 451 et. seq. (please notice the “a” after the 50; Title 50a is an appendix to Title 50).

During the 107th session Congressman Ron Paul introduced legislation to repeal the Selective Service Act (H.R. 1597). However, the Universal Military Training and Service Act of 2001, H.R. 3598 was introduced into Congress in the hopes of compelling all males between the ages of 18 and 22 to participate in military or “other” service requirements. The debates continue.

Currently, by fiat legislative statute all male “citizens” and permanent male immigrants are “required” to register within 30 days of his 18th birthday. If you read the statutes, you will notice that no leeway is provided for negligence. That means the statutes are considered strict compliance or strict liability statutes. Therefore, all men are expected to know of the “statutory duty” imposed (ignorance is no excuse). Late registrations are accepted. However, by statute no man is allowed to register after turning 26 years of age (50a USC 453). Unfortunately, at least one recent proposal would raise that age to 34. On the bright side, there is a statute of limitations for prosecution; after five years after turning 26 years of age no man can be indicted for failing to register (50a USC 453(d)). Of course, legislation often is changed for no sensible reason, so do not get too cocky with that statute of limitations.

In the United States there has been no military draft since 1973. Despite the recent turmoil in current events, a draft is unlikely. The military leaders have done a proficient job of selling themselves to the ranks of the poor and have been meeting their quotas for almost 30 years. Of course, that all might change tomorrow.

Estimates are that between 300,000 and 1 million men have not registered. In other words, a significant number of men have “failed” to comply with the fiat statutory “duty.” Whether those men have failed to register by choice or by negligence is unknown.

What are the risks associated with not registering? There are short and long term consequences, some current and some potential. The easiest answer is that nothing will happen. At best a young man will receive a series of letters, with each successive letter sounding more threatening. This is the typical administrative approach used by any politician or bureaucrat. However, as most people discover when dealing with bureaucrats, their bark often is far worse than their bite. Although registration has been in continual effect since World War II, since 1986 there have been no prosecutions for failing to register. A prosecution is not the same as a conviction. A prosecution merely means an individual has been accused. Conviction means the person was tried, found guilty, and compelled to provide “restitution” to “the people” (prison or fines).

In the short term, if a man fails to register he will be prevented from applying for any federal or state benefit program, such as federal or state employment, school tuition help, job training assistance, social security, welfare, etc. For some men who have not examined their own conscience regarding these issues, these denials of benefits will create inconveniences, just as the politicians intended.

However, for those men who have examined their conscience regarding those “benefits” and will never seek such carrots, one area that might cause grief is that several state legislators have linked driver license registration with draft registration. That is, if a man fails to register for the draft, the state department of motor vehicle people will deny a driver license registration application. Not all states have enacted such legislation. Will all states do this in the future? That is difficult to predict because politics is fickle, as are “approval” ratings for military imperialism on the other side of the planet. Furthermore, some politicians are considering statutes that would function similar to “motor voter” laws. That is, when a man applies for a driver’s license, the bureaucrats automatically will register the man for the draft.

This linkage of registrations will cause no problems for men in states with no such statutes. However, should a man move to another geographical area where a different collection of politicians claim jurisdiction (by mere decree, of course), and because all such politicians have written statutes requiring “residents” to apply for a drivers license if they intend to “operate” a “motor vehicle,” then such men might find themselves in a quandary. That is, of course, if they believe those politicians possess actual jurisdiction to require a driver’s license (that is another issue for another time, but an interesting topic nonetheless). Regardless, the shift definitely is toward linking the two registrations and in the end men will have to decide for themselves how to reconcile this thorny issue. With respect to drivers licenses there will be no easy answers as the years go by, especially as the license becomes a national identification card.

Are there long term risks associated with not registering for the draft? Sure. Any time an individual attempts to deny an alleged statist jurisdiction, either directly or indirectly, intentionally or through negligence, an individual can expect the risk quotient to rise. That does not mean an individual should refuse all such risks. Most of these questions are answered only within each man’s individual worldview, and nobody but each man can answer or weigh the risks of taking a stand against statist thinking.

The long-term risks of not registering for the draft — if convicted under color of law — are imprisonment and fines. The statutory punishment could be as little 4 months in prison and $2,500 during “peacetime,” or as heavy as 5 years in prison and $250,000 during “wartime.”

What options are available to a young man who believes the draft is wrong or immoral, or that statists have no jurisdiction to draft or force an individual to kill for their own causes, which might be corrupt and immoral? Why should any young man be told to kill another human who somebody else has declared to be an enemy?

For those men who straddle the fence (I always have contended that straddling a fence is rather hard on the crotch) and if threatened, a man could play the “Gee, I’m sorry” game. When seriously challenged, a young man can place his tail between his legs and register. In such a situation, a young man likely will experience no further trouble, although in worst cases he might enjoy a few hours or a night or two at statist expense — who knows what might happen. But more than likely, if a man pretends to “swear allegiance” to the politicians by merely registering, then likely nothing further will transpire.

If a man chooses the “Gee, I’m sorry” strategy, he should be aware that like almost all bureaucratic mail, notices to register are not sent by certified or registered mail. In other words, although a bureaucrat might be able to provide evidence that such a letter was mailed, no agent can prove such mail was received. Nonetheless, court judges routinely presume all letters mailed are received. For those men who are at least half smart, they should realize that if they learn the three rules of not engaging the enemy (keep your mouth closed, don’t say anything, and shut up), that they need never affirm or deny whether or not they received the letters (your right to remain silent can be used at any time, even without a Miranda warning). The burden of proof is on the bureaucrat to prove you received the notices.

Without receiving such a letter, an individual arguably can declare that no notice was provided and hence, if prosecuted, can claim that procedural due process was denied. Granted, the statist judges wink at publications of statutes and regulations to allegedly provide “good faith” notice and “knowledge of the law,” but the lack of administrative notice prior to prosecution provides foundation for fighting prosecution — if a man should opt for that solution. The reason is that like all bureaucratic agencies, the Selective Service board members statutorily must exhaust available administrative efforts to remedy a situation before seeking relief in court. If any bureaucratic administrative agent fails to provide a man an administrative remedy then the agent has denied the man procedural due process of law. In short, that means that before an administrative agent can prosecute, the agent must provide the accused an opportunity to be heard (this is usually done by certified mail). Of course, if a man chooses this defense and eventually finds himself in front of the individual wearing the black dress, eventually he will have to play the “Gee, I’m sorry” game and capitulate by registering or suffering the consequences. In other words, at best this strategy is nothing but a delay tactic, although an effective strategy if no bureaucrat pursues a man. Be guaranteed, however, that the plea bargain offered will be to drop the charges after registering. Of course, the half smart man will motion to dismiss because the prosecution failed to state a cause of action (by failing to exhaust administrative remedies, the agency cannot seek judicial relief and thus, fails to state a cause of action). But again, this is only a delay strategy.

For those men who desire not to register, shredding or burning the notices probably is the best strategy. However, if mom, dad, brother, sister, or wife disagree with your decision not to register, you will have to make an effort to intercept those notices so no other individual can testify against you that you received the notices. All wars have witnessed brother fighting brother, thus, do not think that current events won’t cause similar reactions.

Some men might ask, what happens after registering? There is an old adage: one foot in and you’re in. In other words, once registered you cannot un-ring the bell. Once a man registers he is “acknowledging” the statists’ alleged jurisdiction and the politicians and bureaucrats will demand further compliance. In short, by registering a man is declaring that he is available to be drafted. To resist the draft after “voluntarily” registering likely will bring down the harsher side of statutory punishment. This is how the twisted mind of a statist operates, so be forewarned. Also be reminded that resisting the draft is not the same as failing to register. Currently there is no draft, and thus, no statutory punishments for resisting the draft. Current statutory punishments are only for failing to register. More than likely, if a draft was implemented new statutes would be written and the punishments would be draconian and worse than the statutory punishments for failing to register. Guaranteed.

The only opt-out choices available to men who have registered are 1) resisting the draft (when and if implemented) or, 2) attempting to claim conscientious objector (CO) status after receiving a draft notice. Unfortunately, as with most twistified statist fiat statutes, a man cannot claim CO status while registering, and can claim such status only during the induction process. Claiming CO status is not easy. A man needs to be well founded in his beliefs to “convince” the local draft board members that he truly does not believe in war, the military, statism, etc. However, those men who are well studied in liberty-minded thinking and philosophies should have little difficulty presenting their case. Whether such arguments are accepted is another story.

Receiving CO status does not necessarily mean a man will be allowed to escape the clutches of the tyrants. A man might be given CO status but then will be forced to “serve” in a non-combatant role. You cannot un-ring that bell. Once in, you’re in.

If drafted and then denied CO status, a man has three choices: 1) disappear, 2) suffer the statutory consequences (prison and fines), or 3) comply.

Of course, if drafted and then after being denied CO status a man decides to disappear, at best that man will be considered a draft evader, or at worst a deserter and conceivably could be shot. A statist always plays to win.

Another option available to men who have registered is to evade the draft completely if or when that day arrives. In short, a man chooses to live a life of avoidance. Avoidance might mean trying to fail the medical examinations, but for most men means disappearing. Many men did this during the Vietnam era (and the Korean War, World War II, World War I, the War Among the States). They stopped using their given names, or travelled continually within the borders of the nation, or moved to other countries. Of course, such a lifestyle will mean the lack of property ownership, and will mean avoiding paper trails that provide clues to a man’s specific location.

Disappearing is the only option available to those men who originally refused to register for the draft. But such a lifestyle becomes necessary only if the bureaucrats decide to pursue those men who failed to register. Right now such a strategy is unnecessary and therefore immaterial and a non-issue. For registration “evaders” what likely will become a more pragmatic issue is obtaining a drivers license.

If captured, prosecuted and convicted in any avoidance situation, expect the politicians to play hardball. Perhaps the most well known individual who paid the price for resisting the draft is the professional heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali. Ali spent several years in prison. With respect to this issue Ali stood his ground and denied the statists’ jurisdiction. Of course denying jurisdiction and denying the statists’ raw power are two different issues and a half-smart man will not confuse the two issues. In other words, taking a public stand against statism will avoid being forced to kill for unacceptable causes, but will not always avoid the consequences. Every decision has consequences and statists truly enjoy reminding people of that — especially when by mere fiat they convert all kinds of human actions into crimes.

What to do if sent to prison? For “political” crimes, most people are incarcerated in work camps or minimum security prisons (although there are no guarantees, of course, that related draft charges will be treated as political). Therefore, if a man keeps his nose clean he likely will experience no traumatic events while enjoying his three hots and a cot. Many political prisoners have put such time to excellent use by reading and studying law, thus better preparing themselves for future political battles of the mind. And there is an unwritten principle associated with political prisoners: once a man has paid the illusionary “debt to society” for his alleged political crimes, the various law enforcement and bureaucratic agencies tend to leave such people alone. Therefore, for some men a prison term is a small sacrifice to secure a remaining quiet and peaceable life.

Of course, draft dodgers could be classified “hardened” criminals and not political offenders and could end up in tougher prison environments.

There are some men who object to all violence, regardless of kind. There are some men who object to wars of all kinds, although they would use violence to protect immediate life and property. There are men who object to foreign wars and imperialism but not wars threatening the front yard. Only each young man can decide where he finds himself in these challenging questions.

Resisting the bureaucrats on such issues is no easy process. Nonetheless, men (and women) have been making such choices since the beginning of human history. Some of those people have paid the ultimate price for their decisions, but people of strong beliefs will continue making such decisions as long as statism is allowed to exist and statism is provided “legitimacy.”

To young men the best advice that can be provided is to seek your conscience. Seek the wisdom of other people and seek counsel. Read and study both sides of the issue. If you decide to resist the politicians, then have no illusions about the risks. Yet, have no illusions about your personal choice either. Be firm and decide. If you decide to resist this particular issue, keep your mouth shut. The surest way to find yourself prosecuted is to brag about your decision, or by becoming a “nuisance” by publicly spreading the word to others. Always remember that there are people around you who worship the religion of statism and will have no problem sacrificing you to their god. The last prosecutions and convictions in this issue were against several men who decided to “go public” with their resistance decisions. Statists love such easy targets. The bureaucrats gladly will prosecute you for the six o’clock bread and circus shows. Keep your head down and your powder dry and likely you never will be seriously threatened. As long as there is no actual draft, the draft registration issue is low on the totem pole of priorities of life. Get educated, learn some skills or trades, have fun learning about liberty and free enterprise, avoid statist processes, and live a quiet and peaceable life.

P.S. I wrote this essay after performing research for a friend’s son. I do not consider myself a subject matter expert on the topic. The information provided is not considered advice. However, I encourage all men (and women) to avoid and de-legitimize statism in any rational manner possible. Just be aware that all decisions have consequences.

Finis.

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