Pictured: Citizens of Greenville, S.C.

BAFFLING UPDATE: Sure, South Carolina is forehead-slappingly ridiculous, but it’s not like people there want to ban federal currency or anything oh wait.


GateHouse — Here are a few things you cannot do in South Carolina: surf, ride a dragon, avoid barbecued meats, move the Confederate flag off the statehouse grounds, make love to a horse (more on this, cheerfully, in a bit), vanish for five days without telling your gubernatorial staff, declare your opposition to Hootie and the Blowfish, have trouble marrying your first cousin and overthrow the government of the United States without a permit. (I am, incidentally, really happy about having to Google the phrase “laws about marrying first cousin,” so just in case this comes up in the future, I swear I was doing research, Kevin.)

True story: The state of South Carolina, by law, now requires “subversives” who seek to topple the federal government to officially register with the Secretary of State, lest they face a $25,000 fine and prison time. I enjoy this one tremendously, so let’s do it again: If you have a camp, lair, underground bunker, ice cave, avatar-growing facility or Terror Drome located anywhere in the Palmetto State and you are plotting to take down the United States government, you have to enroll, through the United States government. (There is also a registration fee of $5.) If you are a person who tries to write funny things for a living, South Carolina is like a fire hose of comedy that is hooked up a bottomless magical fairy-well and gushes directly into your Microsoft Word, because only the Land Of Small Government(™) would require a bonus level of bureaucracy for something that would be laughed at by even the most goat-brained terrorist, except, of course, the extremely feared Paperwork Ali. (Incidentally, this joke required a Parody Terrorist Name Registration fee of $29.95, which I am expensing. Also incidentally, government toppling, you’ll remember, has already been attempted once in South Carolina, and we all know how that ended, except for a number of South Carolina textbooks, which blame it on the dinosaurs.)



This is, of course, merely part of the beet-red state’s constant efforts to fight back against Big Government, outrageous overregulation, the expansion of Washington, the impolite tracking of sexflights to South America by elitist reporters, the purported right of poor people to eat whenever they want and the right to yell something dumb whenever President Kenya Barack O’Islam is talking on the TV box. Indeed, South Carolina is getting kind of laughed at, civic-pride wise, and not with jovial, fraternal laughing but the kind that says “We totally have to invite this guy to every party because who else would keep pouring the punch bowl down his pants?” (And I haven’t even mentioned the guy they caught having sex with the horse, twice. Having to Google that phrase has of course slaughtered all my future political plans, but at least Kevin will think it’s hilarious).

OK, anyway, the terrorist-registry thing. By “subversives,” the law means “every corporation, society, association, camp, group, bund, political party, assembly, body or organization, composed of two or more persons, which directly or indirectly advocates, advises, teaches or practices the duty, necessity or propriety of controlling, conducting, seizing or overthrowing the government of the United States [or] of this State.” That is all fine and comma-obsessed, but would have been nice to know last year, before I ordered all this personalized swag for my Seizing Assembly (Note: South Carolina has a Visor Logo Stamping Fee of $79.95).

But wait, you might rightly be asking, where are the exemptions for Real Americans, the ones who are trying to overthrow the government not because they’re Radical Islamic Terrorists because they have no other way to express their deep and romantic love for it? The law states that — and this is so obvious it’s a tragedy I’m even wasting ink on it — “fraternal” and “patriotic” groups are exempt, but only if they don’t “contemplate the overthrow of the government.” (You hear that, Shriners, Scientologists and dolphins? Your secret is safe. Shhhhhh.)

So who knows: Maybe this is all just some sort of plan to quietly organize the Tea Party, as though that’s a group that can be outsmarted somehow (suggested placard slogans: GET YOUR GOVERNMENT HANDS OFF MY GOVERNMENT-OVERTHROWING SEIZING ASSEMBLY, or WHO ARE YOU TELL ME WHAT HORSES I CAN AND CANNOT BOINK?), or maybe this is just how it goes in a land governed by a guy whose wife was on Colbert last week discussing his legendary cheapness and also Argentinian soul mate. That, now that I think about it, is the main reason these registrations are so ridiculous, because it is apparently completely impossible to remove anyone from anything in South Carolina, ever. On the plus side, I try to write funny things for a living. I’ll bring the punch.


About Jeff Vrabel

My writing has appeared in GQ, Men’s Health, Success, the Washington Post, the official, Indianapolis Monthly, Billboard, Modern Bride and more. View all posts by Jeff Vrabel


  • Lakia

    LOL that picture is hilarious!!


  • cognitive46

    You always wrote unique and accurate.


  • brad

    Thank God I set up my Omnipotent Google account to email any stories about subversive registration. I knew in my soul that it was a growth industry. Now I can get out of my day to day drudgery by launching “I can help you register your subversive organization” website. Needy people from all over the world can now register through my august organization. This will blend seemlessly with my other online businesses “” and “”


  • Slamdunk

    Funny post. South Carolina was the state that tried to to secede from the Confederacy as well.


  • 1dental

    LOL, hilarious post!


  • walksalone

    South Carolina: Too big to be an insane asylum; too small to be an independent country.

    I moved away from there 20 years ago. This is sooooo typical. It makes me glad I left.

    Oh, and horses aren’t the only victims: they “stump-break” cows, too.

    Keep up the good work.


  • Surfer

    You can surf at folly beach. I demand you take that back


  • sylwilson

    Love, Love, Love your humor! And we’ve got some doozies in Missouri too:) I heard we’ve got a “Hard objects may not be thrown” law! LOL!


  • katz

    It’s impossible to even parody South Carolina anymore. Because nothing could ever be funnier than the stuff that’s actually happening there.


  • Dennis

    It is sad that the people who we trust to run our country is the same people who have their hands deep in our pockets. It seems that this couintry spend more time helping other countries, but spend no time helping it own. Our government is always trying to make other countries conform to it’s ways, beliefs, and the other things that we do, but who said that we are always right? Wouldn’t it be better to take care of ourselves, and leave olther people alone?


  • ubermilf

    You know what else they don’t have in South Carolina? Paczkis.


  • Nick

    Before I begin, I do realize that this was meant to be a humorous article.
    Well, I was disappointed in myself when this article got me “fired up” enough to waste my time writing this response. I guess my biggest problem with the article is that, once again, it portrays southerners and rural americans, in this case people from South Carolina, in such a bad way.

    In regards to the article itself, my understanding is that the law that everyone thinks is so humorous was established around 1951 when many anti-Communist laws were passed through out the country. The reason that it is in the news again is that the state of S.C. is trying to repeal the law. After reading the actual law, I do have to agree it is stupid and somewhat comical, even for the time it was intended.
    Unfortuantely, like yourself and to prove some point, I Googled sexual acts with animals and found that it actually occurs in all parts of the country. Evidently there are some sick people, all over, not just S.C.
    It is also legal to marry your first cousin in 23 states. I assume you and your readers will check this statistic and verify which states it is legal for such marriages.
    My opinion about barbequed meats is that they are very tastey. I don’t care about surfing, never liked Hootie and the Blowfish, and if you can name a state in the union that does allow dragon rides please tell.
    The Confedererate flag, in my opinion has become a symbol of hate which I find very unfortunate. I do feel that it should not be displayed now that it has become such. However, to some people it is a symbol of standing up for yourself and nothing more, “a rebel.” Again, usually this is not the case. It is a part of this country’s history and should have remained in that context.
    I think that slavery is wrong and the hate in this country that has followed the demise of slavery is unacceptable. However, the country, including the southerrn states, should quit blaming the south for slavery. Why not blame England, they started it. Why not blame the founding fathers, in fear of blasphemy I suppose, they had the chance to stop it but did not. They were the hippies of their day, typical rich kids, all for free love, change, radical ideas, fightin’ “the man,” but as soon as they got a taste of daddy’s money, which was made off broken backs, well then slavery didn’t seem quite so bad. Could we be so bold as to blame the Africans that sold their kinsman into slavery. I think not. Not without lots of hate mail. Africans, by the way were not the only peoples enslaved in America. Native Americans, Irish, Scottish, and English men, women and children were also sold as slave, although this has been mostly ommitted from textbooks. Now we just know most of them as indentured servants. Africans at one point could own slaves in the colonies and most historians are uncertain what happened in society to change things so dramatically. Please note, I am not trying to diminish the gravity of the African-American experience.
    As far as your reference to the current president “Kenya Barack O’Islam talking on the TV box,” I knew he was part white but I didn’t know it was Irish. lol Sorry that was lame. Anyway, what you are getting at is that the close-minded people of S.C. and parts beyond didn’t vote for Barrack Obama because, a. he is partially of African-American descent and considered to be the firtst African-American to run for president or b. he may or may not have been a muslim. Well, really the regions, which are mostly southern and rural, have shown a trend in recent years to vote for republicans, regardless of the candidate. Generally speaking, agriculture is an important industry in these areas as well, and democrats are not very sympathetic to agricultural needs. This could be the reason that he didn’t get votes in S.C. and not because these people are racists.
    I would like everyone to start paying attention, read a book, make up your own mind, quit taking the media, and the movies as gospel.
    Watch a scary movie, it takes place in a rural setting, usually in the south, who is the villain, some uneducated, inbred, local southern boy, who goes on a rampage and starts killing, smart, trendy, attractive, sophisticated city folks. Moral of the story don’t go into the country that is where bad things happen. Rural americans and southerners in general have become america’s scapegoat for everything that is unsavory whether it be slavery, incestuous relationships, beastiality, racial hatred, basically anything that the sophisticates of our nothern cities and wonderfully sane and grounded californians think is morally disgusting. Why is redneck (a term originally used to describe Irish slaves in the Carribean- rednecks or redlegs because of their sunburnt skin) still an acceptable term. Because, city folks think its funny.
    These “rednecks” have in some instances done bad things. But I can bet they didn’t steal your retirement when the stocks fell. What really makes them villians but we abide politicians out for personal gain or c.e.o.s that take the money and run, bottom line rednecks are poor. They have no political voice to stand up for them and are and an easy target. That could be the reason that some groups have taken up arms and threatened to overthrow the current political system. Are you satified with our political system, do you feel that you are being represented? The difference then becomes these rednecks are willing to go to extremes to create change in their favor and you and I are not. We prefer to just sit and complain.
    So by being so down on S.C., I may have taken a liberal leap to think that you were speaking of the south and rural america in general but I think not. You think that S.C. is like a fire hose of comedy, but to most southerners and rural americans people from the northern big cities and california are just as insane. Why do I care what George Clooney has to say about politics and other celebrity worship. We don’t quite get it I guess. Just like they don’t get our belief in Christianity.
    Anyway, that was my rant. I appreciate your views, for they are important as well as your articles. Things like this, in my opinion, are what make this country great, still, inspite of the problems we have. I have the opportunity to express my opinion freely as well. Americans should express there opinions more openly in my opinion. I had no intention of offending anyone and appoligize if I did.
    Jeff keep writing even though we may not always agree and may get a little ticked off.
    Nick, from Nebraska- Ha! you all thought I was from S.C. didn’t you.


  • Brad Morrison

    Whoa Nick. You’re outta hand man. Slow down. Take a breath. Your post is longer than the article and sadly has none of the humor. I, myself, am happy to call all southerners biggoted slave owning scum, all northeners effette self absorbed liberal assholes, westerners, cud chewing water stealing indian killers and everyone from California,…well I don’t even have to get started on California. I will use these idiotic prejudicial oversimplifications for their one true useful purpose….comedy….


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    […] REFERENCES The Law The Form The Story “If you are a person who tries to write funny things for a living, South Carolina is like a fi… […]


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