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You Can’t Make This Shit Up XI

21 February, 2009

Pennsylvania is a nanny state.  We have laws to protect us from potential harm.  Oh, we can still ride our motorcycles and ski without helmets.  We can still gamble, bet on the horses, drink hard liquor, wine and beer, and speed (almost) with impunity.  But we cannot name a company in a way that “constitute[s] blasphemy, profane cursing or swearing or that profane[s] the Lord’s name.”  Thank you so much for protecting us.

I learned about this thanks to Hemant Mehta (who runs a blog called Friendly Atheist).  He writes about a man who attempted to name his film making business I Choose Hell productions. 

From the New York Times:

A Pennsylvania filmmaker sued the state on Wednesday for turning down his business’s name, I Choose Hell Productions, because state law prohibits names that “constitute blasphemy, profane cursing or swearing or that profane the Lord’s name.” (So would a business called, say, “The Church of Jesus Christ” count as blasphemy?  Some of the churches certainly profane the “Lord’s” name.)

The filmmaker, George Kalman, contends his free speech rights were violated, as was his right to freedom against the establishment of religion.  (Yeah, but when has the Constitution of the United States of America ever stood in the way of Godly People imposing their views on the rest of us?)

“It struck me when I saw it that the statute seemed like it was from another era,” (But Godly People want to make it this era, too.) said Thomas H. Lee II, an American Civil Liberties Union (Bravo!) lawyer who is handling Mr. Kalman’s lawsuit, which was filed in Federal District Court in Philadelphia.

. . . .

The lawsuit requests undetermined damages and use of the name he first submitted.  (Sounds reasonable.  The state should never have said no in the first place.)

. . . .

The suit contends that the statute is unconstitutional because the state relied on a religious standard (But the Radical Religious Right and the Republican Party want to base all our laws on religious standards.  Are you saying that the RRR and GOP may be wrong?)  to reject Mr. Kalman’s business name and because an employee was allowed to refuse a business name that offended him or her. (Well, if you can’t use your public position to either make money or ram your values down other peoples throat, then you must be a (gasp!) public servant.)

Even if the state asserts that the name was rejected because it violated the prohibition of “profane cursing or swearing,”  (The word ‘Hell’ is ‘profane cursing or swearing’? You’ve got to be shitting me.)  Mr. Lee contends it would still be a constitutional violation.

“As far as we’re concerned, this goes beyond just using dirty words,” he said.  (Yeah, it does.  This goes to the separation of church and state.)

My local school district still has art students make Christmas ornaments.  My state still has anti-blasphemy laws on the books.  Our local juvenile court judge incarcerated children so he could get kickbacks from the private company running the juvenile detention center.  All of these are, or will, create lawsuits.  Lawsuits for which I, as a taxpayer, will help pay.

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13 comments

  1. The law about qualifying for public office is pretty iffy, too.

    The more rabid of the “twice born” would like to see a Calvinist Geneva-like state with a set of laws that make the Sharia look like a kiddy play club.


  2. Man, I shouldn’t bitch about Nevada so much lol. We might have our share of corrupt politicians and shitty leaders, but at least their religious beliefs (Mormonism) hold no power over the state.


  3. Sarge: I think the fundogelical vision for America is a Christian version of Iran.

    DB: I suspect that this is a holdover law, possibly from colonial days. What irks me is that my tax dollars will go to defend and pay off the lawsuit on a legacy law which should have been pulled long ago.


  4. I wouldn’t be surprised if modern-day Iran studied Calvin’s Geneva and learned a few lessons.


  5. DB, my oldest son lives in Fernley, we visited him a couple years ago, and I have to say I was favorably impressed. If I was able to drive I’d probably have moved there.

    I saw an old sign to a town nearby, Mormon Station. I asked him if he’d ever actually seen a mormon in Mormon Station (a lot of places having names which have no basis in reality) and he told me that the only time he was sure he WASN’T looking at a mormon was when he was looking in the mirror.


  6. Shame on PA.

    On a side note, would you ever hire a company named “I Choose Hell”? The name doesn’t exactly give off an air of confidence or ability. I mean, this ranks up there with “You Could Do Worse” Plumbing or The “Not Bloody Likely” Rehabilitation Center.

    I mean what, is he saying he could have had a great life as an accountant or marriage counselor but instead he’s chosen the hellish life of filmmaking? Wtf? Yeah, well uh, I think I’ll go with “Love What I Do” Productions instead for my filming requirements.


  7. Chappie: I really don’t think that authoritarian regimes need to really study how to do it. I think they just adapted what the shah was doing and added Islam.

    Sarge: (and DB) We used to grocery shop in Lost Wages. Lone Pine, LV and Ridgecrest/Trona were about equal distance. I am amazed at the religious infiltration into Nevada. With the gambling, dancing and all, its an odd mix.

    Philly: Your rehab center name may be the most accurate I’ve seen. I agree, though. Loving what you do is the best way to produce a quality product.


  8. Sure didn’t stop them from latching onto Howard Hughes and soaking up everything available, did it?


  9. @ PhillyChief I agree that “I Choose Hell” is an odd name but maybe he was just trying to be catchy?

    There’s a bus tour company called Hades Day Tours whose motto is: “You’ll have a HELL of a good time with HADES”. Their business seems to be doing alright.


  10. Sarge: Is that what happened to Hughes’ millions? I remember the idiocy when he died intestate, but I don’t remember the outcome.

    Oz: Actually, that sounds like a company with a sense of humour (almost always a good sign).


  11. i’m glad i don’t live in your state. here in Alabama, no one in their right mind would name a company using swear words. what would a child think seeing a name like that on a movie?


  12. Anton: Yep, Troll. At least you aren’t using the cut an paste method. Think about the children? That’s original.


  13. Which swear words? “Choose”? Yeah, that’s pretty bad. You don’t want children growing up thinking they have choices. God forbid! Now I’m confused because you said words, as in plural. What words? You can’t tell me a good Christian like you doesn’t appreciate Hell, especially when it comes to children. I mean, the value of using that to scare the little shits into submission and obedience makes it a pretty valuable word for Christians, and productions? Well that’s like creations, so I don’t see how that would be bad for you.

    For me, Alabama is a swear word. Ugh. I shudder thinking of having to live there. I mean, I’m an only child, so I’d never get laid.



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