It appears that South Carolina’s mandated registration of “subversive agents” is far from new, as erroneously reported here. The law dates from 1951—when Joe McCarthy was in full flower—so it is clearly not aimed at terrorists, but at “Commies,” being a relic of the Red Scare at the dawn of the Cold War. Apparently the legislature has attempted to repeal it in recent years and failed, but that doesn’t make the law any less archaic.
Blogs like this one rely on secondary sources, and when one of them jumps the gun or gets its facts wrong, the result is that we end up aiding and abetting negligent misinformation. True: Ethics Alarms is in the business of adding ethics perspective to news stories and current events as it understands them, so the analysis can sometimes still be useful even if the facts are wrong. That is insufficient justification for contributing to misinformation, however. The key, as usual, is trust. I will do the best I can to get the facts right, hope that my readers correct me when they are wrong, and be ready to correct the record.
As for South Carolina’s silly law, perhaps the revived publicity of its 1951 paranoia will embarrass it into finally getting this dinosaur off the books. That will constitute a good result from a botched story, I suppose.
Many thanks to Sherrif Ray Nash, who tracked down the truth for Ethics Alarms.