Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Official State . . . .

Recently, some North Carolina legislators sponsored a bill that would establish an official state religion.  After a few days of this hanging in the air, Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Charlotte) killed it deader than a mackerel.  Now this is Exhibit A of what not to do when legislating official state symbols.  It was probably unconstitutional, and it was sure to piss a number of people off plus garner unwanted negative press.  Bad doggie!

You can look at the penchant each of the fifty states have for adopting Official State ___________ (fill in category) as a time-wasting, foolish exercise, or you can benignly look upon it as an occasion for the various factions and political parties to have a love feast now and then.  Typically, legislative acts that specify the official state whatevers are non-controversial.  Passing one gives all involved a minor feel-good moment, and it counters any criticism of them as do-nothing or being hopelessly deadlocked.

And the sponsoring legislators can go back to their home district and brag that they got legislation passed that made the New York Finger to be the official state bird of the Empire State!*

There is a little problem, though.  Many categories of Official State Whatevers have been filled; in a few cases. overabundantly.  Tennessee, for example, has seven State Songs, so they pretty well saturated this category.  And a number of states have the same State Bird, betokening a dismal lack of imagination.  Multiple states have adopted Cardinals (7) and Mockingbirds (6) as state birds, though Kentucky makes their's the Kentucky Cardinal.  What is the species difference?  Perhaps a predeliction for mint juleps.

Clearly, new categories of state symbols may provide fertile ground for this type of feel-good legislation.  Certainly New Mexico pioneered this by coming up with an Official State Necktie (Bolo), though I have never seen anyone actually wear one.  Perhaps this would be novel wear for a prom or a Mardi Gras ball.  Honorable mention should be given to Maryland's Official State Sport: Jousting.  Well, they're ready for Agincourt re-enactments; but the Orioles and the Ravens need more encouragement.

Part of the attraction for passing these outlandish legislations is that it generates a lot of publicity for the state and the sponsoring legislators.  For this reason, an unimaginative state like Ohio might make a Official State Invasive Plant with nary a notice in USA Today, or a miscellany comment on a television news program or PBS which people almost never watch anyway.  No, the way to do these Official State Things nowadays is to go over the top.  Here's a few possible ideas:

Official State Bikini Top Color:  UNC Powder Blue

Official State Weed: Marijuana

Official State Junk Food:  Cheetos

Official State Footwear:  Fuck-Me Shoes

Official State Hot Air Source:  Politicians

Official State Plus-Size Dress Color:  Manatee Gray from Target

Official State Dog:  Meth Lab

Official State Worm: Nematode

Official State Pork Barrel Project:  The Bridge to God Knows Where

Official State Curmudgeon:  Oscar the Grouch

Official State Recreational Activity:  Strip Poker

Official State Musical Instrument:  The Kazoo.

Official State Protective Gear: The Jock Strap

Official State Wrapping Material:  UNC Duct Tape

Official State Health Food:  The Corndog

Official State Obsession:  Basketball

Anyway, I hope you get the idea.  You can imagine the impact:

1.  People in other states will ask, "Is this real?" or "WTF?"

2.  They will immediately envy your state for having such a cool state whatever.

3.  The folks back home will be proud and re-elect you and invite you to speak at high school graduations if you sponsored the bill.

4.  Tourists will flock, hoping to see some examples of your state's whatever.  Well, maybe not the jock strap.

Is this a cunning idea whose time has come?  A linguist I consulted said so.

*Here's an idea for New York legislators.


The Bastard King of England said...

"Fuck-me shoes"? It pays to advertise. Great ideas, evil one!

Dianne said...

on a serious note for one second cause it seemed appropriate - I am so sick of the states, all of them. We'd accomplish more if we behaved like a freakin' United States of something/anything

anyhoo - I love the NY finger as state bird, that's just priceless

John Hill said...

Combine the official state bikini top with the official state footwear and I think you have a winner!

Bilbo said...

The official state insect of Virginia is the Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly. That's odd. I'd always thought it was Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who is now running for governor ... as if we didn't have enough problems in the Old Dominion.

TexWisGirl said...

big waste of time and taxpayer money, for sure...

Grand Crapaud said...

I always thought that basketball was the official state religion of North Carolina and Indiana.

Duckbutt said...

Great ideas for the Tarheel State.

Hmmm....Would 'Fuck Me Shoes' play well in Winston-Salem?

Anemone said...

That UNC spirit bikini top looks like a plan. I wonder how it would go in Sitka or San Diego.