July 23, 2024

The Nerve Archive

Where Government Gets Exposed

What’s the official state waste of time?



My Last Nerve: We’re gonna need a bigger gift shop

South Carolina, like most states, has a state flag, a state flower (Yellow Jessamine), a state bird (Carolina Wren) and not one but two state songs (“Carolina” and “South Carolina on My Mind”).

Dum Spiro Spero is one of two state mottoes. Now, if house bill 3078 should pass, that Latin phrase (“While I breathe, I hope”) would also become the official state anthem. An anthem is supposed to have a tune or melody. No music is provided in the bill.

If it seems bizarre that South Carolina would need a state motto, or two, and a tuneless state anthem (did we mention that we also have two state songs?), you may be befuddled by all the other official state stuff we already have.

There’s  the official state animal, the whitetail deer. “The State Popular Music” — beach music, which shouldn’t be confused with “The State Music,” “the spiritual.” We have an official State Dance (the Shag) and an official State Waltz (the Richardson). An entire article in the South Carolina Code of Laws is dedicated to official emblems, pledges, and observances.

Every piece of official state paraphernalia began life as a bill that went through separate House and Senate committee hearings, was voted on by all the members of each house, and then was signed by the governor.

The law determining the official State Beverage — milk! — was enacted in 1984. The State Hospitality Beverage — tea, of course — was passed in 1995. And so it rolls down through the years.

The bill for the State Heritage Horse (it’s the Marsh Tacky) was passed in 2010. We had to wait until 2014 for the legislature to finally enact the Official State Picnic Cuisine, bringing to a close years of confusion before we learned that it’s barbecue.

That same year, the General Assembly guided us along the path by designating the State Heritage Work Horse. Spoiler alert: It’s the Mule.

But so much remains to be done. How long must we wait to find out that the official state Sandwich Filling is pimento cheese? How many hours must the legislature spend on passing meaningful laws before it reveals that the official state alcoholic beverage is micro-brewed beer?

Will it ever consecrate the official state slogan, “It’s a great day in South Carolina!”?

And where is the official state euphemism? Everyone already knows it’s “Hiking the Appalachian Trail.” Or the official state Pecan Festival?

Oh wait. We already have an official state Pecan Festival. It’s in Florence.

Don’t you feel better now?

As H. 3078 progresses through both chambers, as seems likely, we need to keep in mind that at some point this could really get out of hand.

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The Nerve