[guest post by Dana]
Philipine officials not only want the citizenry to enthusiastically sing the National Anthem when it’s played in public, but they are also determined to see the practice become the law of the land:
Filipinos would be required to sing the national anthem when it is played in public — and to do so with enthusiasm — under a bill that the House of Representatives of the Philippines approved on Monday.
If the bill, which will be considered by the Senate, is approved and signed into law, a failure to sing the anthem, “Lupang Hinirang,” with sufficient energy would be punishable by up to year in prison and a fine of 50,000 to 100,000 pesos, or about $1,000 to $2,000. A second offense would include both a fine and prison time, and violators would be penalized by “public censure” in a newspaper.
“The singing shall be mandatory and must be done with fervor,” the bill states.
The law would also mandate the tempo of any public performance of the anthem — it must fall between 100 and 120 beats per minute. Schools would be required to ensure all students have memorized the song.
Citizens must also adhere to official music for the song and are warned that ‘any act which casts contempt, dishonour or ridicule upon the national anthem shall be penalised.’
The Times then notes that while a number of countries, including the U.S., place a high value on their national anthems, few have actual laws on the books with severe penalties. India, China, and Thailand were cited. But they are not the only ones:
Russia fines citizens for the offense of mocking its national anthem, and its government is considering adding criminal charges of up to one year of imprisonment or hard labor for the “deliberate distortion of the musical arrangement or lyrics of the national anthem of the Russian Federation.”
In Japan, some public school teachers in recent years have refused to stand for that nation’s anthem, objecting to its connection to Japan’s former military regime. Japan’s Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that schools could force teachers to sing the anthem, but punishments for teachers refusing to sing can’t be excessive.
While the NYT’s report rightfully points to the public outcry over Colin Kaepernick’s habitual refusal to stand during the anthem before N.F.L. games as proof of how much we value our national anthem, I think a more important point to be made is, that unlike citizens in other nations, Kaepernick was able to freely exercise his First Amendment rights and remain parked on a bench or take a knee in protest when the anthem was played without fear of the government punishing him for it. A star spangled banner o’er the land of the free, indeed.
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)