Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Subversives Register

Apparently, South Carolina has found the silver bullet to the issue of terrorists and other subversive groups: make them register. You may think this is a joke, but the Subversive Activities Registration Act (South Carolina House website) appears to be very real. If you or your organisation intends to overthrow the United States Government, the government of the State of South Carolina or any of its subdivisions by "force or violence or other unlawful means" (Section 23-29-20-1) are an organisation "subject to foreign control" (Section 23-29-20-2), or are a "Foreign Agent" (Section 23-29-20-3) you must register to the Secretary of State of South Carolina within 30 days (Section 23-29-50) using this conveniently provided form... in duplicates. Remember to pay the $5 registration fee and to include a self-addressed envelope for them to send you... I'm not sure what. I hope that you get a Subversive Agent Certificate but I doubt it. If you do not register, you may be subject to a fine not exceeding $25,000 and/or a prison term not exceeding 10 years. (Section 23-29-90)

For all you crazies out there who may think that the government you are trying to overthrow is trying to unfairly restrict your rights, I direct your attention to Section 23-29-30 which guarantees that registration as a subversive will have no effect on your freedom of speech and freedom of the press. There... Feel better?

Now to be fair, as I understand it, advocating to overthrow the United States government is not technically illegal as long as you don't do anything about it. So this may just be a not very subtle way to fight against militias and other groups who will surely not fill out the form nor pay their $5 fee but may otherwise be acting in a perfectly legal manner. I'm a big champion of freedom of speech and so this sneaky restriction on speech makes me a tad uncomfortable, but I think that when the guys who want to overthrow the government buy guns, march in lockstep and train in urban warfare, maybe we should do something about it before they start shooting.

PS: I am not trying to overthrow any government at all, but my wife practically had to restrain me as I was desperate to register as a subversive or possibly a foreign agent. (I already have the foreign part down, I just need to find some government that wants to tell me to do stuff) I am expecting that while not a single subversive organization will register (they are crazy, not stupid) the office of the secretary of state will probably be flooded with registrations by college students who have nothing better to do.

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