Indiana Senator Vaneta Becker is pushing a bill to impose a $25 fine on anyone who deviates from a set of standards in performing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at events sponsored by public schools and universities. According to Becker, the bill is not intended to punish those who may flub a note or two while singing the national anthem. “It’s not like we’re going after anyone’s ability to sing,” Becker said in an interview yesterday. “It’s more that we just want them to respect the words and the tune as it was originally intended and we normally sing it.”
If Becker’s bill had been passed a decade ago, Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler would have been busted for changing the “home of the brave” line to “home of the Indianapolis 500” while singing the song before that race in 2001. 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.
If this bill passes in Indiana, it would not be the first state law strictly governing the performance of the national anthem. Massachusetts has a law imposing up to $100 in fines for playing the song “as dance music, as an exit march or as part of a medley.” Michigan prohibits anyone from performing the song in a public space except in its entirety and “without embellishment.”