Thursday, January 15, 2009

South Carolina, circa 1984

I'm not too good at reading laws, as written in constitutions and whatnot, so there may be a good deal between the lines that I am missing. Also, there is a good chance that there are similar laws in other states, or even the federal government that I am unaware of. Therefore, I will not freak out. I will, however, point out that this crazy-looking new bill introduced on January 13, 2009, is full of terrifying language.

"Section 16-15-370. (A) It is unlawful for a person in a public forum or place of public accommodation wilfully and knowingly to publish orally or in writing, exhibit, or otherwise make available material containing words, language, or actions of a profane, vulgar, lewd, lascivious, or indecent nature.

(B) A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than five years, or both."

But then, as I followed the hypertexted link to section 16-15-370, I found a whole litany of illegal acts (under the dubious label "Offenses Against Morality and Decency") that surprised me. Sex outside of marriage (Sections 16-50-60 through 16-50-80) and participation in the production of obscene material (Section 16-15-325):
"(a) photographs himself or any other individual or animal for purposes of preparing an obscene film, photograph, negative, slide, videotapes, motion picture, or digital electronic files for the purpose of dissemination; or

(b) models, poses, acts, or otherwise assists in the preparation of any obscene film, photograph, negative, slide, videotapes, motion picture, or digital electronic files for the purpose of dissemination is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned for not more than one year and fined not more than one thousand dollars."

Yikes! This entire litany of laws reminds me of the Bible, listing horrible crimes (rape, child molestation, etc) alongside benign offenses or simple cultural differences (adultery, nude photography, or 'buggery').

I read through this whole segment of laws and I found no repeal of any of these points... I have to assume that any couple residing in South Carolina, regardless of age or gender combination, who lives together and/or has sex and is not married, is guilty of a crime. I'm afraid to read through the North Carolina rulebook.

I realize that the new law against profanity has yet to be passed. I know nothing of South Carolina's social structure, so I don't know if this is a likely occurrence or not. I'm sure that people will still swear in public, and I doubt that much enforcement is likely. But it is still a bit chilling to see the laws that we could be made to abide by if the government put its heel down.

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