Sunday, January 1, 2012

Indiana GOP State Sen. Vaneta Becker introduces Soviet-style law fining national anthem performers for inappropriate deviations from 'approved lyrical or melodic guidelines'

Posing by a U.S. flag, but proposing hammer-and-sickle legislation
(Back in March, Becker, a Realtor from Evansville, voted to send to Indiana
voters a constitutional amendment to not only ban gay marriage,
but also
similar legal structures such as civil unions, and to threaten domestic
partnership benefits and other legal protections for unmarried families who
probably should consider buying their next house from someone
not trying to cut off their insurance benefits and prevent them
from ever having a legally-sanctioned relationship in Indiana.
From the Indianapolis Star via AmericaBlog comes the news that an unusually stupid GOP state senator / control freak from Indiana, Sen. Vaneta Becker, has introduced legislation setting specific "performance standards" for singing and playing The Star-Spangled Banner at any event sponsored by public schools and state universities.

Her bill would introduce the following bureaucratic red tape to Indiana schools:
The bill calls for schools to maintain audio recordings of all performances for two years and develop a procedure for dealing with complaints if a musician is alleged to have strayed from the approved lyrical or melodic guidelines.
Senator Becker's artistic dragnet would also lower the boom on private schools receiving state or local scholarship funds, including vouchers.

More bureaucratic red tape from Commissar Vaneta:
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.
Below: Vaneta Becker's proposed law would subject the Georgia Tech Glee Club to a $1,250 fine for singing the original lyrics — "To Anacreon in Heaven" — of the song now known as the Star-Spangled Banner, if they dared to do so at any public school in Indiana.
     Becker's proposed legislation bizarrely categorizes the original English drinking song version of the now-U.S. national anthem, as a parody of Francis Scott Key's later rewrite. The surreality of this is so far beyond idiocy that it begins to encroach a Kafkaesque state of mental illness.
     Becker's proposed law might also subject performances of Puccini's enduringly popular opera, Madame Butterfly, to fines, as it uses the national anthem — then, the Navy's anthem — to reveal the paternity of a baby, accompanied by lyrics which have absolutely nothing to do with patriotism.
     The celebrated composer's use of the melody of the now-U.S. National Anthem in no way comports with the "approved lyrical or melodic guidelines" proposed by the small-minded
Becker, seemingly sent by the voters of Evansville to the state senate to impose her two-bit authoritarianism on the rest of Indiana.
     Or maybe they just wanted the woman out of town more often and weren't thinking about the possible consequences.

To Anacreon in Heaven, where he sat in full glee,
A few Sons of Harmony sent a petition;
That he their Inspirer and Patron wou'd be;
When this answer arrived from the Jolly Old Grecian;
"Voice, Fiddle, and Flute,
No longer be mute,
I'll lend you my name and inspire you to boot,
And besides I'll instruct you like me, to intwine,
The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine!"
Becker told the Star she authored the bill after a constituent called her last spring, upset about a school program in which the words of The Star-Spangled Banner were substituted or parodied in a way the caller found disrespectful. The senator said she herself had heard parody versions of the national anthem on television programs.

As well as Madame Butterfly, Becker's law would also levy fines for performances of the smash Broadway musical Hair (covered in a radio hit below by the Cowsills, the real life inspiration for The Partridge Family) because of the lines borrowed and rewritten (skip to 2:11) from the national anthem.

Becker's Maginot Line of impenetrable ignorance betrays not a molecule of awareness about the mongrel status of the U.S. national anthem as repurposed pub/club song dedicated to a Greek poet who wrote several romantic odes addressed to his young male friend Bathyllus (and other young male friends, mostly wrestlers) with verses like:
O boy, with virgin-glancing eye,
I call thee, but thou dost not hear;
Thou know’st not how my soul doth cry
For thee, its charioteer.
(AKSARBENT knows it can trust its readers not to clue the dreary, pretentious Becker in to the homoerotic origins of the Star Spangled Banner; for the love of Mike, for Pete's sake, she might totally freak out.)

It would, however, be amusing to have some fun with Sen. Becker during bill deliberations by asking her whether substituting the original lyrics to Anacreon In Heaven that Francis Scott Key rewrote would trigger her $25 fine for a "disrespectful" parody (after taking bets on the odds of her detecting the irony.)

On second thought, why not just vote this unlettered, bleached blonde, bleached-brained, out-of-her-depth, historically ignorant, bourgeois, power-mad, GOP numbskull right out of the Indiana Senate the next time she comes up for reelection?

EARTH-TO-BECKER ADDENDUM: Although the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that even burning the American flag is protected free speech, Becker isn't bright enough (or, perhaps, responsible enough) to connect the dots between that ruling and the inevitable, expensive court challenges which would nullify her idiotic statute were it ever to pass.


  1. When did the republican party declare a war on free speech? Did I miss the memo?

  2. Is this another dumb blond joke?