The Power and Penalty of Moral Dissent

The lawmaking debate on draft registration this year has boiled down to a few basic issues, the most provocative of which is will people obey the law? This question has recently led even the former Director of Selective Service (SS), Curtis Tarr (1970-1972), to say, "I foresee the possibility of evasion by large numbers that would overwhelm the agencies for law enforcement and the judiciary. A law that cannot be enforced surely is worse than no law at all."

If all the roughly four million men liable under President Carter's plan sign up, it will indeed be the feat of the century.

The plan is to hurriedly set up special booths at the 39,733 U.S. post offices. Men born in 1960 and 1961 will be ordered to visit one of these offices to fill out special SS forms during business hours in a one-week period for each of the two age groups. The administration wants registration to occur sometime this summer, the very time America's most mobile generation is vacationing. To comply with the law, many youth will have to search out post offices near the beaches and mountains. This is no problem, says SS official Brayton Harris, because the Postal Service will get $5 million to, among other activities, "run trucks into places like Atlantic City and Ocean City" to set up special, temporary post offices on the beaches. SS also plans to spend $400,000 in a media blitz to warn young men to register.

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