Yes it does. In addition to the huge number of other things it does. It handles all networking (including firewalling/bridging/routing), filesystems, all that KMS stuff, the ALSA layer, crypto services... I am sure there's loads more.
The Linux kernel is a massive blob that does all kinds of things. So let's at least be consistent. If you want to attack this as a principle you can't just cherry-pick systemd because people think it's cool to hate whatever Lennart Poettering has been involved with.
Your argument would only hold water if the Linux kernel came to replace a _better working_ microkernel and was subsequently forced on many users of the mentioned better microkernel.
Well, not really. My argument against inconsistency in critique is valid whatever. I think though that what you are saying is that abandoning the "UNIX Way" is perfectly acceptable in the cases where it makes pragmatic sense (i.e. the Linux kernel, for which nobody has created a better-working UNIX Way alternative).
On the other hand your argument only holds water if the current SysV/upstart/etc init system genuinely does work better than systemd (and if you were somehow being forced into using systemd, which nobody is). If we leave out its monolithic design as a criticism, then this is simply up for debate. Lennart and others have put a lot of time into explaining why systemd is a good idea both in principle and in practice, criticisms really need to be made based on those points. His arguments seem sound to me. If they do not seem sound to you, don't use it. Other init systems still exist, and if people don't come around to systemd en masse then they always will.
You're right there; misread your post a bit. Still early morning here
As for the forcing, if you're using distro X and the next version of it uses systemd, that does qualify for forcing. Just because you have the choice to switch distros doesn't mean it won't cause pain for you either way.
For me personally? I'll keep on not using systemd nor pulse and other things I find inadequate. But Joe New Linux User may not have such choice if all the "newbie-friendly" distros start using bad software Y. Is that not forcing?