THATS: Leave SC's beauty to the eyes and mouths of the beholder

dlauderdale@islandpacket.comJanuary 3, 2012 

Yes, it is a beautiful day in South Carolina, as the governor insists.

The snarlers will have to get used to it. It's beautiful here.

As a friend posted on Facebook with a gorgeous picture Tuesday: "No snow falling from the sky here. Just snowy egrets."

Beauty spills across the state from Table Rock, to the art collection at Bob Jones University, the Horseshoe at the University of South Carolina, a pig cooking at Scott's Variety Store and Bar-B-Q in Hemingway, and the Cistern Yard at the College of Charleston.

But South Carolina also has its ugliness: the water tank shaped like a peach in Gaffney and its cousin Pedro at South of the Border. We have the "Corridor of Shame," where public schools are an embarrassment.

Every state could chirp about its beauty, even when none of it compares to the Angel Oak on Johns Island or the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park in Beaufort.

And every state has unemployment and its own version of the "Corridor of Shame."

That's why Gov. Nikki Haley's decree that state workers answer the phone by saying "It's a beautiful day in South Carolina" is hokey.

Much worse, it's government by fiat. We elected a governor, not a dictator. South Carolinians, of all people, don't want to be told what to do, think or say.

The sophomoric "thou shalt be perky" decree comes across like another famous edict: "The beatings will continue until the morale improves."

It's a fiat that should be ignored. But it's not working out that way. The state hasn't given the nation this much to laugh about since the Appalachian Trail, the Democrats' sketchy candidate for U.S. Senate, or Strom Thurmond's biracial baby. Honestly, it's hard to keep score in the lazy river of South Carolina. The hits just keep on coming.

Two legislators are getting national attention with their retaliatory move, the Nattering Nabobs of Negativism Act. Actually, I don't know what they call it, but their bill would enable state employees to read the happy teleprompter only when the state meets high benchmarks of improved employment, education, availability of health care insurance and rural economic opportunity.

As Vice President Spiro Agnew may have put it, they have formed their own "4-H club" -- the "hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history."

To them, it will never be a beautiful day in South Carolina. I don't agree with them. But I agree with their right and ability to say what they want, if they want, how they want, for whatever reason they want without being forced by government decree.

Follow columnist David Lauderdale at twitter.com/ThatsLauderdale.

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