Friday, December 30, 2011

Indiana senator wants to fine anyone who doesn’t play the anthem the way she likes it

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Senator Vaneta Becker (R-Indiana)
Sen. Vaneta Becker (R-IN)

There’s always a fine line between encouraging one’s fellow countryfolk to pay their respects for their country, and forcing them into a creepily fascistic lockstep. And Indiana Senator Vaneta Becker (R) is blasting over it with a rocket strapped to her back:

Many people have murdered The Star Spangled Banner, but an Indiana lawmaker wants to criminalize deviant versions sung or played at school functions, our colleagues at The Indianapolis Star tell us.

Sen. Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville, has introduced legislation that would direct state education officials to set "performance standards" for singing and playing the national anthem at any event sponsored by public schools, charters or state universities. (Private schools receiving tax- funded scholarships or vouchers would also be covered.)

Singers and musicians would have to sign a contract agreeing to follow the guidelines and would be fined $25 if their performances weren't deemed "acceptable."

"Sometimes it's just done in a joking manner, but I don't think the national anthem is something we ought to be joking around with," Becker said.

Actually, anything can be joked around with, Senator. That’s rather a basic tenet of the First Amendment, even if you don’t care for it. For instance, we could start by ridiculing your deranged notion that everyone must perform your fetishized song in exactly the way you want them to under penalty of legal sanctions. Because if there’s one thing that positively screams “Freedom of Speech” (if not freedom in general), it’s punishing anyone who doesn’t sing the anthem in exactly the way you like it, right?

Now, we are ostensibly assured that the “song police” will not target anyone who just sucks at singing, but only those rebellious rascals who deliberately wander from the traditional composition. The USA Today also notes that other states have also set their own standards for performing the anthem, though it’s unclear if those guidelines also come with sanctions for anyone who dares play the song in any way that doesn’t strictly conform with how it was originally written.

This is even more ridiculous than all those flag fetishists who get an embolism the second anyone dares exhibit anything less than worship-level reverence for their prized multicolored cloth. The whole idea of a free country is that its people should be allowed, and even encouraged, to display their sentiments about their home in any damn way they want, good or bad, proper or not. Those who cheerfully clap their hands to their chests and dole out their favorite jingoistic tune have no more the right to censor those who choose not to than the latter group can silence the former. The same goes with those who choose to derive from the usual standard; if you take away the people’s right to parody and satirize, you might as well throw the Bill of Rights into the nearest fireplace straightaway.

(via @pourmecoffee)