South Carolina now requires "subversives" to register


Planning to overthrow the US government? If yes, and you live in South Carolina, you must pay a five-dollar subversive registration fee. (Via The Agitator)


  1. Yeah, it’s only five dollars now, but I bet they up the price when it starts to become trendy. And it probably expires if you don’t pay a renewal fee every year. I see what they’re doing, trying to make being subversive cost-prohibitive. ;-P

  2. Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government.

    -Thomas Jefferson

  3. I thought we all “controlled” the US Gov’t via the oh-so-subversive act of voting. Is this the new poll tax?

  4. Presumably both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party have signed up as subversives, because both groups seek to control the government at the federal, state, and local level.

    1. “Given that even voting in elections represents an attempt to ‘control the government’, I’d recommend that everyone in South Carolina files the form and pays the (relatively modest) fee. And demands a receipt. It’ll be interesting to see how their bureaucracy copes with that.”

      Nope – you’ve made the classic internet blunder. Giving an opinion based on what someone else says the law is, rather than just clicking a link or two and reading the law yourself.

      The law itself is quite clear that it only applies to methods involving ‘violence or other unlawful means’.

      Now you can be jailed simply by belonging to an organization – even if you don’t do anything or agree with that part of the organization’s aim.

      The only real requirement is that the organisation indirectly teaches the propriety of controlling ANY subdivision of government by an unlawful means.

  5. “In the long and storied history of utterly retarded legislation in South Carolina, we may have finally found the legal statute that takes the cake for sheer stupidity, which we think you’ll agree is saying something,” the unsigned blog posting scathingly commented.


  6. That’s also the last question on every government security clearance application I’ve ever filled out. Keeps the riffraff out.

  7. From the article: “every member of a subversive organization, or an organization subject to foreign control, every foreign agent and every person who advocates, teaches, advises or practices the duty, necessity or propriety of controlling, conducting, seizing or overthrowing the government of the United States … shall register with the Secretary of State.”

    I’d say they stand to make a lot of money from corporations that don’t pay their registration fee.

  8. I think I almost ruined a friend’s chances to get government clearance because of this question. When the interviewer/agent/whateveryoucallem asked me the question I burst out laughing, hard. I thought it was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever been asked. She, on the other hand, did not seem that amused.

  9. Remember that SC was the first state to secede from the Union and the first state to fire on US troops in the war of northern aggression.

    I bet this silly law has been on the books since the Civil War.

    1. Remember that SC was the first state to secede from the Union and the first state to fire on US troops in the Slaveholders’ Rebellion.


  10. Interesting how the law doesn’t apply to individually acting bombers and assasins.

    So apparently there’s little to no danger to expect from someone running rampage in municipal or state institutions.

    They surely would have prevented the Binghampton shooting (different state though) by forcing him to register for a five dollar fee.

  11. What is that compared to the much more expensive U.S. Visa application form DS-156?

    Do you seek to enter the United States to engage in export control violations, subversive or terrorist activities, or any other unlawful purpose? Are you a member or representative of a terrorist organization as currently designated by the U.S. Secretary of State? Have you ever participated in persecutions directed by the Nazi government of Germany; or have you ever participated in genocide? [ ]Yes [ ]No

    At least it’s not as bad as when they asked if you were bringing a nuke into the country (pre 9/11). I guess they got all the documentation they needed to sue you if you lied.

  12. Presumably the goal is not even to get ‘subversive organizations’ to self-register, but to give them something else they can add to the charge sheet if they feel the need to arrest someone. “Uh, well, it appears that you’re a member of a ‘subversive’ organization, so you’re looking at ten years … unless you’d like to plead guilty to some of the other charges, or act as an informant.”

    I’m interested that subversives “… advocate … the necessity of … controlling … the government of the United States”. Sounds like they’ve got my number. If New York follows South Carolina, I’ll either have to pay the $5 or risk going down for a 10-year stretch.

    Given that even voting in elections represents an attempt to ‘control the government’, I’d recommend that everyone in South Carolina files the form and pays the (relatively modest) fee. And demands a receipt. It’ll be interesting to see how their bureaucracy copes with that.

    1. For five dollars, I’d want a t-shirt, or at least a bumper sticker. Or do you mean your own rubber stamp to use on whatever you’d like? I’m up for that.

  13. Yeah, it’s funny now, but wait until you have to register for being infinitely recursive.

  14. Hm, well my organization advocates the overthrow of the security apparatus of the United States by refusing to cooperate with any Orwellian bureaucratic forms, so…

  15. They’ll just become dependant on those $5 fees, just like cigarette taxes. Soon the government will be taxing them on one hand and encouraging their growth on the other. Just wait until every block has its own revolutionary cell.

  16. I feel a Monty Python skit coming on…

    “Good morning, sir. I’d like to register as a subversive.”

    “Ah, yes — wonderful. Please have a seat. Would you like some tea?”

    “That sounds lovely. Thank y…”


    “My word — what was that?”

    “Oh, that must have been the car bomb I left in front of the police department down the street.”

    “Ah — tut-tut, now, sir — you’re getting a little ahead of me. We’d better get a start on these forms, then. Here’s the first.”

    “May I borrow your pen?”


    1. We have several! Florida and my home state of Texas are on most lists.

      In Texas and several other states, they tax illegal drugs. It’s so they can add another charge to drug offenders.

  17. This was among the best of the many ridiculous questions on the DoD security clearance paperwork. I’m glad the entire population of South Carolina is now being subjected to it.

  18. Note the word “control”. Even mainstream political parties and organisations advocate gaining “control” over the government.

  19. So, has the South Carolina judiciary registered itself yet?
    What’s more subversive to the fundamental tenets of the USA than requiring subversives to register?

  20. As Homer Simpson would say, “Five dollars?! Oh, that makes me hate the government so much!”

  21. I’m going to drive down to South Caroline just so I can officially register the New Traditionalist Party as a subversive organization.

  22. Well, how about putting this in the “fundamental beliefs” section:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

    Then the S. Carolina government could go out and round up anyone who didn’t file for anti-Americanism…

  23. Most of these laws actually have good legal reasoning behind them. I suspect it’s a way to do one of the following:
    1) Avoid a defense based on the First Amendment, by claiming that an investigation was aimed at tax avoidance and not suppression of free speech;
    2) Adding a State charge to potential Federal ones, thereby giving the State jurisdiction;
    3) Lowering the standard of proof necessary to show that an organisation has breached the law.

  24. What a brilliant law. In an opposition party does not register you can throw them in prison. If they do, you have a good excuse to treat them as terrorists.

  25. Let me guess. Democrats and Catholics must register with the state but Neocon teabaggers get a free pass?

  26. They don’t want you to register, they’d rather you didn’t. That way, when they suspect something but can’t prove it in any way, they can guarantee to find something that will stick.

  27. wow, i’m really curious to know if anyone from any group that actually may be planning a coup every filled that out seriously…

  28. I suspect anyone who is registered to vote could possibly fall under this category. Certainly someone who is a registered member of an opposition party could be, given the prevailing attitudes (Democrat Party == commies) of people in South Carolina.

  29. Oh, and how about the NRA? Don’t they insist that everybody needs guns in their house to protect them against an oppressive government? I bet you can find such subversive people at any gun show.

  30. This is also the law in California – the Subversive Organization Registration Act was put in place in the 1940’s and never repealed.

    It’s hidden in the Corporations Code so nobody ever looks at it. About 20 years ago I went down to the Secretary of State office and asked to see the registration filings, guess what – no filings.

  31. Seems to me if you answer “NO” then they would be just as suspicious of you: what self-respecting subversive would ever admit to it on a government form? The only people who would answer “YES” are idiots and pranksters, who pose no serious threat.

    1. Or activists. Unless you think activists (in this case, freedom of thought activists) are idiots or pranksters.

  32. This is actually not a new law. It’s at least 45 years old. it’s just been updated recently. SC’s Secretary of State reported on a local news show that ONE person was registered with the state, and had been for a while. He didn’t say who that person was, though

  33. Following this math, it should cost about $13 for a permit to lob mortar grenades on Fort Sumter and $22 at the most to lay siege to Charleston.

    Compared with the cost of non-resident small game hunting, these are great value options and may contribute to tourism revenue.

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