Saturday, January 7, 2012

National Anthem Bill Makes Indiana Laughingstock

As many of you may be aware right now, one of the bills being considered by the General Assembly this session takes aim at people singing the National Anthem at Indiana's public schools and institutions.

Rep. Vaneta "Performance Standards" Becker
R-Evansville
This bill, sponsored by Republican Vaneta Becker of Evansville, would charge the Indiana Department of Education to come up with performance standards, would force those people that sing the anthem at public school or university events to sign a document saying they will stick to those standards, and then fine them $25 if they don't.  It's a silly, stupid, ridiculous bill, honestly.  It's the kind of bill that should make people that support the freedoms of the First Amendment very worried.

Regardless, can we be honest about our National Anthem?

First of all, let me get this straight.  There's nothing that moves me to tears like a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem.  Many come to mind.  I heard four young men from the Ben Davis Choir do a barbershop quartet version just the other day before a Ben Davis Lady Giants basketball game that I thought was just amazing.  I stood and clapped for those guys long after most had sat down.  I love my country, and I love my country's anthem.

The concept of a "national anthem" is something that honestly probably never crossed the Founding Fathers' minds when they were coming up with our nation's Constitution.  So, the National Anthem isn't something sacred to me in that vein.  Our National Anthem was originally a poem written by Francis Scott Key.  He was witnessing the Battle of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, and he penned the poem after seeing that the fort defenses held and the British did not take the fort.  At some point, the poem was set to the words of a Scottish social club's song.  Some have said that it was a drinking song.  So, the National Anthem was never "written" but more "evolved" as a song.  

The National Anthem became our National Anthem in 1931 when Herbert Hoover, no doubt needing a national pick-me-up, signed a Congressional Resolution.  It apparently wasn't until World War II that it became commonplace for the National Anthem to be played or sung before sporting events.  That's the background.

So, here we are.  Where perhaps someday soon here in Indiana, someone will be fined for violating some ridiculous performance standards for taking a artistic liberty on a song that celebrates the country whose Constitution guarantees the freedom of taking artistic liberty in the first place.  

Welcome to Indiana....where a performance like the one below could unfortunately someday get you fined.


I say this song belongs to no one.  I don't like it when people disrespect it, but to say this young lady didn't do this song justice is absolutely crazy and sad.  It's performances like that one that Becker's ridiculous overreach will target.

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