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June 2, 2006 | South Carolina Headlines


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Sanford vetoes ‘Crazy Fred’ bill
All over but the signing
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Sanford vetoes ‘Crazy Fred’ bill
Ralph Bristol
June 2, 2006

After slipping just a little bit with that proposal to rescind the gas tax, my confidence is fully restored that Gov. Mark Sanford makes decisions with absolutely no regard to their political consequences. Sanford is the “anti-populist” governor.


He proved it this week by vetoing the “Crazy Fred” law. That’s not the actual name of the law. It’s the name I gave it a few months ago when I urged the South Carolina legislature not to follow the lead of other states by passing a law to ban Crazy Fred’s funeral protests. Like clockwork, they ignored me and took the opposite course.


If you are a crazed zealot, what could be better for you than to have legislatures all over the country determine that you are such a nuisance, they need laws that target you and you alone?


Crazy Fred, once so marginalized that only a few sensationalist media folks covered his antics, is now deemed such a threat that dozens of states have passed laws to ban his favorite pastime – protesting at soldiers’ funerals.


Sadly, South Carolina followed suit because our lawmakers cannot resist the temptation to exploit emotions for political gain. There is no more sympathetic victim that the grieving family of a fallen hero. Any lawmaker who stands with that family earns easy brownie points. His biggest risk is that he might pull a muscle patting himself on the back. Any politician who fails to go along is the subject of scorn.


The politician who volunteered for the latter role is, of course, Governor Sanford. Sanford vetoed the “Crazy Fred” bill, saying, in part that laws should not trample freedoms. He added, “That includes freedoms that cause me or you to say, ‘I disagree and disagree very, very strongly.’”


I don’t just disagree with Crazy Fred. I think he’s a genuine loon. I simultaneously despise and pity him. With their actions, legislatures have given him what he craves more than anything and otherwise would never have – legitimacy.


Now, lawmakers are castigating Sanford for refusing to go along with their pandering ways. Democrats and Republicans alike blasted the veto as insensitive to military families. I don’t expect grieving families to be able to think clearly enough to grasp the fact that the legislature’s actions give power to Crazy Fred, but I do expect the lawmakers to know it.


In fact, I think they do know it. They aren’t stupid. Well, some are, but most are just shameless panderers. They exploit other people’s emotions for their own political benefit.  It is an almost irresistible force that beckons all politicians Few can resist it. Sanford remains one of the few.



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