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.