January 5, 2012

"An American state senator in Indiana has proposed a new law punishing anybody who changes the lyrics to The Star-Spangled Banner."

"Vaneta Becker wants to impose a fine of $25...  on singers who dare to improvise, extemporise or undermine the United States' national anthem."

I've never heard of this person before, but congratulations to Vaneta Becker for stepping into the limelight with such a ludicrously misguided attempt at upholding American values, which — hello?! — include free speech.

Can you think of any similar cases of American politicians stepping onto the public stage and immediately falling flat on their face?

By the way, would you slap a fine on these kids?



Clue to Becker: "The Star-Spangled Banner" is itself a re-write of another song.

51 comments:

Tully said...

Hey! We stole it fair and square!

Dave said...

Jimi Hendrix's version is still my favorite.

Browndog said...

Near as I can tell, it is also her right of free speech to advocate for the limits of free speech.

Ask any liberal--they do it daily.

John Foust said...

Senator Becker, a Republican, is furious about parodies...

Explains it all right there.

Scott M said...

Almost as bad a waste of a state legislature's time as the California bullet train project.

jrberg3 said...

I am embarassed to live in the same state as this ignorant fool, although thankfully she is not from my district. I fully hope that the folks around Evansville will put an end to any political aspirations this woman has come election time. The sheer lunacy of signing contracts for each and every time the National Anthem is sung and then policing it is something more akin to communist states than the U.S.

Personally, I'm not a fan of the National Anthem being sung/played before almost every event in this country at almost every level. Come on, before a 5th-6th grade basketball game, really?

Another side note, I also wish America the Beautiful was our anthem. Such a nicer song than the Star-Bangled Banner.

EMD said...

Another side note, I also wish America the Beautiful was our anthem. Such a nicer song than the Star-Bangled Banner.

Written by a lesbian feminist poet!


NTTATWT.

EMD said...

I hate when Republicans get all Big Brother-y over stupid stuff like this.

Scott M said...

Written by a lesbian feminist poet!


NTTATWT.


Yes, there is. The poet part.

Christopher in MA said...

jrberg's got it right. Fools like these are an embarassment to the GOP. But 'parodies?' I've never heard a "Banner" parody. I suspect(admittedly not having read the article), I suspect that what Becker means and really bothers her are distortions - the many talentless versions of "Banner" we're subjected to at store openings and baseball games. Whiny, tortuous caterwauling, usually accompanied by swoops and melismas that my voice teacher calls "ghetto bel canto."

An inspired artist can make a version of "Banner" worth listening to (Hendrix comes to mind), but most singers are American Idol wannabes who should be told to sit down and shut the hell up.

Sorun said...

Another side note, I also wish America the Beautiful was our anthem. Such a nicer song than the Star-Bangled Banner.

The Star-Spangled Banner is a great story from our history. America the Beautiful is like a Hallmark card.

AJ Lynch said...

Vaneta? Dumb names = dumb person. It's a rule of thumb I know but it works for me.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

"The Star-Spangled Banner" is itself a re-write of another song.


Piffle. Ms. Becker knows perfection when she sees it, and wishes to legislate that after the 'Star-Sprinkled Banana', the iterations must stop. Good luck with that.

And if 'Anacreon in Heaven' was indeed an English drinking song, think on a gang of drunks in a small tavern bellowing that super-ambitious melody. Good sales tactic! Everyone would need another drink immediately after.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

I've never heard a "Banner" parody.

Hmmm, you've led a sheltered life. There are many that begin 'Jose can you see'...

One is from a repair shop. An excerpt:

...
And the hoses all leak,
and the speaker won't speak,
And if I don't get it fixed,
I'll be s**t up a creek...

Scott M said...

I've never heard a "Banner" parody.

You absolutely do NOT want to parody Banner. It will make him angry and you will not like him when he's angry.

Craig said...

Commonwealth countries have alternative lyrics for My Country 'Tis Of Thee. They call it God Saves The Queens.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

distortions - the many talentless versions of "Banner" we're subjected to at store openings and baseball games.

Agreed. The point of the anthem is to be - as in Christmas carols and drinking songs - an active effort by a company assembled. Not a passive submission to an overdramatized Performance by an alleged superstar, or relative of the proprietor with microphones and 500-horsepower PA system.

It is better to give than to receive, and better to be a participant than a spectator.

EMD said...

Yes, there is. The poet part.

But the lyrics do rhyme!

sonicfrog said...

"Oh say can you pee..."

*Knock* *Knock* *Knock*

"This is the parody police, you are under arrest!"

MadisonMan said...

There was no need to id her as Republican. That was evident from the git-go.

sonicfrog said...

What if you're singing it, and forget the lyrics and do a Michael Stipe thing where you sing something completely unintelligible?

Just the other night, at a local open mic, I was singing "Message In A Bottle", a song I have performed at least 200 times in my 25 year musical "career". When the second verse came up... even though I had sung this bazillion times... I completely blanked on the words. Now, this particular time I joked about my little problem, the audience laughed and someone graciously yelled out the next line "A year has past since I wrote my note...". In other instances though, if I'm in the middle of singing something, and I forget the words, I will just mumble something, maybe insert nonsense words, and hope not too many people notice.

Yes, Message In A Bottle isn't the national anthem... Yet, in the state the country is in, maybe it should be.

EMD said...

There was no need to id her as Republican. That was evident from the git-go.

Glenn Reynolds won't have to play "Name That Party!"

Christopher in MA said...

". . .you will not like him when he's angry."

Scott, I take my hat off to you!Top drawer, sir. Top. Drawer.

edutcher said...

As Insufficiently notes, the original words are somewhat less than respectful, if arcane.

Wonder if Senator Becker knows they exist?

PS Wonder if she objects to the Hitler videos, too?

Hoosier Daddy said...

".... You absolutely do NOT want to parody Banner. It will make him angry and you will not like him when he's angry..."

Nerd.

Scott M said...

Nerd.

Ah...closure.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

I've never heard a "Banner" parody.

You mean when you were a child you never sang;

"Jose can you see?"

Joe said...

Roseanne Barr sang the correct words, but it was still an obscenity.

(And count me among those that don't get the obsession with singing the national anthem at just about everything. I don't get the pledge of allegiance thing either--find it rather creepy actually--I find people speaking in unison generally creepy. Perhaps the Occupied crowd should have sang their protests to make it less dumb.)

Simon said...

You know, I think it's great that here in Indiana, we've solved all our problems, leaving our legislators with free time to spend on stuff like this. I sometimes believe that the quality of our legislation would increase dramatically if there was a rule that every bill had to be introduced handwritten in the sponsor's own blood.

Hoosier Daddy said...

A quick Google of her is yet another example of the need for term limits.

Joe Schmoe said...

If he had to deal with yabos like this on a regular basis, I can see why Mel Daniels said the GOP needed to steer clear of social issues for awhile.

I'd be real curious to see how she'd classify a legit version versus a non-legit version.

Rumpletweezer said...

This is just more proof that we've already passed every law that needs to be passed. When California banned tanning beds for minors and New York bans trans-fats, there you go. We're left with only stupid stuff.

The Elder said...

Hmmm. Doesn't seem very "Hoosierly," now does it?

chickenlittle said...

This Land Is Your Land is another great alternative anthem--written by a commonist even.

Thorley Winston said...

According to the Indianapolis Star, this is what’s actually been proposed:

“Sen. Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville, has introduced a bill that would set specific "performance standards" for singing and playing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at any event sponsored by public schools and state universities.
The law also would cover private schools receiving state or local scholarship funds, including vouchers.
Performers would have to sign a contract agreeing to follow the guidelines. Musicians -- whether amateur or professional -- would be fined $25 if it were deemed they failed to meet the appropriate standards.”


A copy of the bill can be found here.

So basically if a school receives public funding and hosts an event in which they play the national anthem, they have to get the performers to agree to sign the actual words, maintain a recording of the performance for two years and if the performer violates the agreement, they have to pay the school a fine of twenty-five dollars for violating the agreement.

Seems like an unnecessary law but the coverage and outcry over it seem disproportionate to what’s actually been proposed.

Cedarford said...

SSB - Bad English drinking song, hard to sing, glorifies war and an out-dated fixation on the Flag (or the colors standards) as the most important thing on a battlefield.

We deserve a better Anthem.

BTW - We do control certain expressions of song in certain spaces. Kids cannot sing the obscene Johnny Rotten version of "My Way" in school. We don't let songs with the N-Word be performed in the media unless it is by an N-Word or another race person widely understood to be sanctioned by N-Worders to use the word.

Cedarford said...

Irving Berlin, John Sousa have America-centric, upbeat, easy to sing songs.
Paul Simon has a downer song called "An American Tune" that is unfortunately appropriate in the BushII-Obama years. Part of it:

And I don't know a soul who's not been battered
I don't have a friend who feels at ease
I don't know a dream that's not been shattered
or driven to its knees
But it's all right, it's all right
We've lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the road
we're traveling on
I wonder what went wrong
I can't help it, I wonder what went wrong

And I dreamed I was dying
And I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly
And looking back down at me
Smiled reassunngly
And I dreamed I was flying
And high up above my eyes could clearly see
The Statue of Liberty
Sailing away to sea
And I dreamed I was flying

We come on the ship they call the Mayflower
We come on the ship that sailed the moon
We come in the age's most uncertain hour
and sing an American tune
But it's all right, it's all right
You can't be forever blessed
Still, tomorrow's going to be another working day
And I'm trying to get some rest
That's all I'm trying to get some rest

gadfly said...

Wait! So this old-timey Greek guy Anacreon did his poetry gig which was translated into drinking songs!

I feel much better about the "Star Spangled Banner" already because it was always so utterly depressing about describing the British attack on Fort McHenry.

Chuck66 said...

Heyyyy I am about as conservative right wing patriotic as you can get. But this is stupid. You win by convincing people to see things your way. Not by passing stupid repressive laws that no policeman or DA would want to enforce.

I support laws banning flag burning (just as I support laws banning burning crosses in front of African-American churches).


But to ban a silly parody that few will hear or care about?

Scott M said...

Wait! So this old-timey Greek guy Anacreon did his poetry gig which was translated into drinking songs!

I've got a ship named Anacreon. Tough little bugger, too. The damned thing has survived almost five years.

bbkingfish said...

Q. "Can you think of any similar cases of American politicians stepping onto the public stage and immediately falling flat on their face?"

A. Scott Walker.

EMD said...

the obscene Johnny Rotten version of "My Way"

That's the obscene Sid Vicious version, thankyouverymuch.

chickenlittle said...

bbkingfish said: A. Scott Walker.

Ah, but Walker didn't seek to curb people's 1st Amendment rights-he merely tried to curb the unions' largesse. Of course he was booed by the large.
_________
wv = cadsh. Yes, I'm a cad and I'm fluent in cadsh.

bbkingfish said...

chickenlittle: You quoted my answer. Now, re-read the question, please. It concerned politicians falling flat on their faces as soon as they ascend the public stage, not the Constitution.

I live in Pittsburgh. The first time I heard of Scott Walker, it was because, within a few weeks of taking office, he had driven Wisconsin to the brink of social chaos. Every time he spoke in the next several weeks, he seemed to want to pour fuel on the fire. It seemed he was as concerned with inflicting pain as changing policy.

In America, that's not what most folks mean by "good governance." In Cairo, Damascus, or Tehran, maybe it makes the cut. But not in PA or Ohio.

If I lived in Wisconsin, my concerns about Walker would be about competence, not ideology.

Cedarford said...

EMD said...
the obscene Johnny Rotten version of "My Way"

That's the obscene Sid Vicious version, thankyouverymuch.

-----------
I stand corrected on the proper Punk.
Thanks EMD.

Deb said...

Cedarford, I have thought of that Paul Simon song frequently in the last 3 years.

As kids we sang a silly song to the tune of the SSB which I won't repeat hear for fear of getting severely ridiculed.

chickenlittle said...

@bbkingfish: The problem with your argument is that you squint your eyes from afar and say "I heard a ruckus in Wisconsin--that must mean bad governance."

With a blogger profile indicating that you may not have been around long enough for the whole story--especially as chronicled here at Althouse--I could just as easily suggest that Walker made some unpopular but necessary choices and the rable attempted to drown him out and shout him down. That's the noise you heard back in PA. Such caterwauling is a bug and not a feature of Madison. It's one thing I don't miss about the place.

chickenlittle said...

bbkingfish said...
chickenlittle: You quoted my answer. Now, re-read the question, please. It concerned politicians falling flat on their faces as soon as they ascend the public stage, not the Constitution.

I related my first answer to you to free speech because I thought that was staying on topic.

I'm an expert at straying off topic but I'm trying to curb my enthusiasm.

chuckR said...

http://www.snopes.com/religion/pi.asp

Debunks a recent claim that an Alabama legislator wanted to make pi the Biblical value of exactly 3.
And confirms this actually happened in Indiana in 1897. Indiana House Bill #246, introduced by one Rep Taylor I Record.

What is it with Indiana?

Gene said...

As I recall all songs were once old drinking songs and if they were not they soon will be.

LutherM said...

I always thought that "The Star Spangled Banner" was a POEM written by Francis Scott Key, celebrating the victory of the Americans over the British who were attacking Baltimore in 1814.
It was rather quickly sung to a revised version of an English drinking song - and recognized as our National Anthem by an act of Congress in 1931.