Friday, June 4, 2010

Off-topic: The U.S. Selective Service System prides itself on "fairness" -- while it exempts more than half of the nation's pool of eligible registrants

All men, and only men, between the ages of 18 and 25 and living in the United States, must register for a potential military draft under the nation's Selective Service System. 

What happens if a man fails to register?  "A man who fails to register may, if prosecuted and convicted, face a fine of up to $250,000 and/or a prison term of up to five years. Even if not tried, a man who fails to register with Selective Service before turning age 26 may find that some doors are permanently closed."  Source 

Among the doors permanently closed to men who fail to register are the following:

STUDENT FINANCIAL AID:  Men, born after December 31, 1959, who aren't registered with Selective Service won't qualify for Federal student loans or grant programs. This includes Pell Grants, College Work Study, Guaranteed Student/Plus Loans, and National Direct Student Loans.

CITIZENSHIP: The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) makes registration with Selective Service a condition for U.S. citizenship if the man first arrived in the U.S. before his 26th birthday.

FEDERAL JOB TRAINING: The Workforce Investment Act (formerly called the Job Training Partnership Act - JTPA) offers programs that can train young men for jobs in auto mechanics and other skills. This program is only open to those men who register with Selective Service. Only men born after December 31, 1959, are required to show proof of registration.

FEDERAL JOBS:  A man must be registered to be eligible for jobs in the Executive Branch of the Federal government and the U.S. Postal Service. Proof of registration is required only for men born after December 31, 1959.

The states have their own penalties for men who fail to register. See here.

Women, of course, are exempt from registering with the Selective Service System, and are not subject to any of the penalties set forth above.

Nevertheless, the Selective Service's Web site is replete with assertions of its own fairness.  The following sentences are teeming with irony: "If a draft is ever needed, it must be as fair as possible, and that fairness depends on having as many eligible men as possible registered." And: "Only if there is high compliance with this law, will a future draft be fair and equitable." Source

It seems palpably hollow to assert that a future draft will "be fair and equitable" if it excludes from the outset more than one-half of the pool of eligible registrants merely because of their birth class; namely, all females aged 18-26.

Some will dismiss any concerns about gender inequity in connection with the Selective Service System by hissing that because there's currently no draft, there's no inequity to men.

First, of course there is no draft at present. But there could be at any time. That is one of the principal purposes of the Selective Service System: preparedness in the event a draft is needed on short notice. 

Second, and of more direct and immediate concern: every year, even without a draft, the present law is penalizing a massive number of men, and only men, by making them possible felons and permanently stripping them of valuable rights and privileges that their same-age female peers take for granted -- merely because they engage in precisely the same conduct as their female peers. 

The numbers of men affected are staggering. According to the Annual Report to Congress of the Selective Service System for fiscal year 2009: "[I]f a man fails to register, or fails to provide evidence that he is exempt from the registration requirement . . ., his name is referred to the Department of Justice . . . for possible investigation and prosecution for his failure to register, as required by the Military Selective Service Act.  During FY 2009, 169,586 names and addresses of suspected violators were provided to the DoJ, an increase of 22% from FY 2008." And every name on that list is male. 

Let that number sink in: 169,586.  That's an enormous number of men to be punished merely for failing to do something that their female peers are legally exempted from doing.  It is reasonable to assume that the vast majority of these men are lacking in education and social standing, and most likely just don't fully understand -- despite the Selective Service System's explicit warnings -- what failing to register could mean to them.  The penalties to be imposed on these men for this infraction will only add to their oppression.

Is this what the Selective Service System means by "fairness"?

In recent years, there has been some discussion about women being drafted in the event the draft is reinstated. Despite whatever perfunctory lip service feminists pay to including women in either a draft or Selective Service, it is not among their priorities.  Among the "hot topics" on the National Organization For Women's Webs site are: "NOW Hails Votes to End Discriminatory Don't Ask, Don't Tell Policy."  We see no similar concern for the 169,586 persons (for last year alone) who are subject to serious penalties because they happened to be born one gender as opposed to the other.

If, however, a law imposed serious penalties on massive numbers of women, but not men, for engaging in precisely the same conduct as the men, do you suppose NOW and every feminist organization in America wouldn't bother protesting that? The question scarcely survives its statement.  Without question, it would become their most important "hot topic" issue.  There would be protests and rallies, and it would be on the front page of every newspaper in America.

How do the young women who would be drafted feel about being drafted?  Despite decades of feminist indoctrination and calls for purported gender equality, a 2005 Gallup Poll of teens showed that approximately one-half of all American teen girls thought that women should not be subjected to the draft: "Teens are about evenly divided on the question of including young women, with 51% saying they should and 47% saying they should not. Boys and girls generally hold similar views on this question, though girls are more closely divided (50% to 49% in favor of including women) than boys (53% to 44% in favor)."  Source

I suspect that if the Gallup poll question posed were about women's rights -- including the right to vote, the right to own property, or the unilateral right to abort a child -- teen girls would support such proposals in far greater numbers, in some cases approaching 100%.  Yet, when it comes to a grisly responsibility that males have overwhelmingly shouldered since the beginning of time, the girls are almost evenly split as to whether they want to be burdened with it. Query: is "gender equality" only applicable with respect to rights and not responsibilities?

It is difficult to blame the girls for being honest -- they don't want to be drafted. Neither do most boys, but historically, boys have had no say in the matter.  There are certainly legitimate questions as to women's proper role in the military, and we do not presume to tell the military how to do its business. But as a matter of public policy, the legal exemption of all young women from registering with Selective Service is wholly inconsistent with notions of gender equality and cannot be reconciled with the cavalcade of laws in recent decades insuring that women have at least the same rights and privileges as men. Gender equity is hollow and dishonest -- a sham, in fact -- if it is a one-way street.  Women cannot hope to be seen as truly equal to men so long as they allow chivalrous exemptions from their civic responsibilities.

It is only fitting that we end this post by noting the sacrifice of the incredible number of inductees under the Selective Service System: