Indiana Republican Wants To Outlaw “Unacceptable” Renditions Of The National Anthem
One Indiana State Senator has had enough with people who mangle the Star Spangled Banner:
INDIANAPOLIS — Oh, say can you . . . sing?
And, more importantly, can you sing it the “right” way — the way one Indiana lawmaker thinks the national anthem should be sung?
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.
But just what is appropriate? Would Jimi Hendrix’s electric version make the grade? Are Christina Aguilera’s vocal gymnastics a fineable offense?
That’s unclear. What is and what is not “acceptable,” according to Becker’s bill, would be determined by the State Department of Education, with input from the Commission for Higher Education.
Becker said she would expect the guidelines to require that the national anthem be sung with the usual lyrics to the traditional melody — “the way that we normally have it sung or heard throughout most of our state and our country.”
Becker said 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.XXV
“Sometimes it’s just done in a joking manner,” she said, “but I don’t think the national anthem is something we ought to be joking around with.”
On some level I understand where Becker is coming from. Quite often, the worst part of any major sporting event is when some singer, and I use that term loosely, attempts to sing the National Anthem. If that singer is female, you can almost guarantee that they will use it as an occasion to show off their vocal range on a song that really doesn’t require it. That I kind of blame on Whitney Houston, who’s admittedly amazing performance at Super Bowl XXV has caused an entire generation of female singers to think they can sing like Whitney circa 1991 when they really can’t. And then, of course, there are travesties like Roseanne Barr’s drunken display in 1990. And, of course, Christina Aguilera’s complete disaster at Super Bowl XLV. I can also understand the desire to maintain proper decorum in school settings.
But, does this really require a law? I just don’t see it. As John Cole notes, this seems like something more appropriate in a place like North Korea than the United States of America. There are less egregious means to make sure public assemblies are conducted in a respectful manner, we surely don’t need another law.