If an Indiana senator has her way, you’d better know what follows “Oh say, can you see” when you’re in her state.
Rolling Stone has reported that Republican Vaneta Becker is pushing a bill to impose a $25 fine on anyone who doesn’t sing “The Star Spangled Banner” correctly — correctly as in not adding their own words or altering the original lyrics to it, not as in singing it in tune — at events sponsored by public schools and universities.
According to the report, “It is unclear whether or not an instrumental take on the song, such as Jimi Hendrix’s version from the Woodstock festival, or an unintentional lyrical flub like Christina Aguilera’s gaffe at last year’s Super Bowl, would violate the proposed standard.”
The question is, could something like this happen in Michigan?
Well, actually, it already is happening.
The report added that Michigan law prohibits anyone from performing the national anthem in a public space except in its entirety and “without embellishment.” (Apparently, what one does with it in the privacy of his own home is his business.) We fact-checked it. It’s true:
750.542 How played.
How played—The national hymn or anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner”, shall not be played, sung or otherwise rendered in this state in any public place nor at any public entertainment, nor in any theatre, motion picture hall, restaurant or cafe, except as an entire and separate composition or number and without embellishments of national or other melodies; nor shall “The Star Spangled Banner” or any part thereof or selection from the same, be played as a part or selection of a medley of any kind; nor shall “The Star Spangled Banner” be played at or in any of the places mentioned herein for dancing or as an exit march.
Massachusetts has a similar law, imposing up to $100 in fines.
The takeaway? Sing at your own risk.