It may be time for South Carolina to change its nickname.
The Palmetto State has a nice ring to it, but these days it might be closer to truth-in-advertising if we went by “The Nanny State.”
Because right now some conservative state lawmakers want to be in the business of deciding which websites we can — or more accurately, can’t — look at.
Last month, some Upstate senators introduced legislation that is exactly what we’ve come to expect: It would outlaw all abortion in the state, and it outlines how a woman — or her doctor — could face criminal charges even if such a procedure was necessary to save the life of the mother.
As The Washington Post reported last week, that bill includes provisions for the attorney general to go after anyone who aids or abets anyone seeking an abortion — and outlaws any website or internet provider that points to where you can find information about how to get one in other states.
So many questions here, but let’s start with this one: Is South Carolina going for the Chinese, Cuban or Russian model of internet censorship?
First Amendment lawyers and scholars blasted this proposal in the Post story, calling it unconstitutional and a horrible precedent that could lead to many more bad things. You think?
If it wasn’t so ham-handed, it would be funny to see these self-proclaimed “patriots” — who incessantly claim they must save us from a radical socialist agenda — actually propose a hallmark of socialist state restrictions.
Not to mention, this seems like a particularly ambitious task from a bunch of people who have not yet mastered the ability to pave roads.
Of course, maybe this is all a big mistake. These senators did not actually write the bill, and may not have read it. They got it from the National Right to Life Committee, a special interest group that should come with an asterisk attached to its name. But that’s another story.
So perhaps these lawmakers don’t realize how it completely upends their ideology.
Republicans used to take great glee in calling Democrats “nanny staters.” It was their way of fussing about pesky environmental regulations or FDA requirements to make sure food wasn’t going to make people sick.
Smoking bans in restaurants, regulations on giant soft drinks in convenience stores and even texting while walking are all the work of the Nanny State. The Republicans were right; some of it got a bit silly.
But they really lost it when the Nanny State said they had to wear masks because, uh, pandemic. They took to the streets to declare their constitutional right to spread a wildly infectious disease that killed 1 million Americans because — and they said this without an ounce of self-awareness — no one can tell them what to do with their bodies.
You really can’t make this up.
We should have seen this internet stuff coming, because the GOP is big on censorship these days. Some of their elected leaders want to ban schools from teaching civil rights, or any history that says slavery was bad or recounts how Native Americans had their land stolen.
They certainly don’t want kids reading about how their grandparents fought the integration of schools. Or how, when they lost that fight, all the cretins in the Democratic Party jumped ship and took over the GOP.
But that’s another, albeit related, story.
If the General Assembly starts policing the internet, where does it end? Are they going to shut down pornography? It seems unlikely, since most lawmakers are men.
And if someone mentions abortion on Facebook, would they shut down their biggest propaganda network? It seems like this bill would require it.
What about blocking white supremacist message boards, which give unstable young men the idea to murder people? Seems like that would be “pro-life.”
That probably would be the point at which they suddenly remember the First Amendment.
Normally, an asinine proposal from Sen. Richard Cash wouldn’t be worth wasting ink to lampoon. Most state lawmakers tolerate, and ignore, the most self-righteous among their ranks.
Which is why South Carolina is not even in the top 10 craziest states nowadays.
But this is a serious threat, and these are strange times. Elected officials who demonstrate no understanding of human biology think they know more about health care than medical professionals. They claim to know better than law enforcement, and try to pass laws allowing anyone to carry guns anywhere… except, of course, in the Statehouse.
Now they want to police our internet.
Sorry, but these guys need to take a moment to read the Constitution. And maybe pave some roads.