Apparently, sticking to the facts is a burden that threatens the freedom of tour guides.

An appeals court has ruled that making Washington, D.C., tour guides get licensed, or actually know what they are talking about, violates their free speech.

So some locals worry that it won't be long until our national motto is "Buyer Beware," and you see tours of Charleston that go something like this:

Welcome to AAA True HIStory Tours, where you are guaranteed to get the "right" story of Charleston.

For the next hour and a half, we're going to stroll the streets of this historic city and tell you everything you need to know to sound just like a blue-blooded local.

Your humble host - the guy in the straw hat - is a 9th generation Charlestonian, so of course he knows everything there is to know about this city.

Before we get started, local ordinance demands that we inform you that this is an "unlicensed" tour. All that means is that we refuse to spoon-feed you the stories the politicians at City Hall want you to hear.

See, for years Charleston held tour guides to impossibly high standards. We were expected to know every little bush and flower. And we had to repeat every banal, politically correct story they wanted you to hear.

To get a license, you had to take this big long test on "facts" - facts that were "approved" by bureaucrats.

But then, in 2014, some judges decided that such tests infringed on our rights of free speech. Now, the city claimed that was just the opinion of a bunch of activist judges, but they aren't activists if they're on your side!

Am I right?

We didn't start the fire

See this parking lot.

This was the site of St. Andrew's Hall, where South Carolina seceded from the Union on Dec. 20, 1860.

The building was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1861, the origin of which is unknown to this day - but it was probably started by careless slaves.

One of the biggest lies you have been told by liberal "historians" is that the Civil War was fought over slavery, and Charleston started it.

That's not true. Representatives from across the state gathered here and decided the federal government was getting too big, infringing on states' rights - just like today.

They were imposing regulations, which are bad because they just drive up costs and hurt businesses, which are people too. Sure, without regulations you might get some rancid meat at the grocery store now and then. But what's a little food poisoning when our freedom is at stake?

South Carolina stood up to that tyranny. It was just about freedom. Well, ours anyway.

Yes, we had slavery in South Carolina, but that had absolutely nothing to do with secession or the war. The black people who lived in South Carolina were sold by the real slave traders - other black guys in Africa. Plantation owners took these folks in, provided them with food and shelter, a place to live and a job. It was like a big family. You ever seen "Gone With the Wind?"

The slaves just served dinner and picked cotton out of gratitude.

It was that horrible Denmark Vesey who stirred things up here with his insurrection plot. If the city hadn't hanged him, he could have killed my great-great grandparents.

Who, by the way, owned Vesey's cousin.

Look away, look away

This is Waterfront Park, a wonderful addition to the city.

That big bridge is the Ravenel Bridge, which opened in 2005. It replaced two other bridges, including the Grace Bridge, which dated back to 1929. I was in the last car to go over the Grace Bridge.

The new bridge is large enough to let cruise ships sail up to North Charleston, which is where they should be anyway. This was never a big passenger ship port.

And way out there is Fort Sumter. Just across the mouth of the harbor, on the southern tip of Sullivan's Island, sits Fort Moultrie.

Now, some people call our conflict the Civil War. That is wrong. It was truly the War of Northern Aggression - as all real Charlestonians call it - and it actually started at Moultrie.

See, after South Carolina seceded we ordered the federal government out of the state. They were supposed to give us all their property, since our tax dollars paid for it anyway. But instead those Yankees vandalized Fort Moultrie and holed up in Fort Sumter to spy on us.

If they had just compromised and met all our demands, there would not have been any war.

See, the Constitution guaranteed us the right to secede, just like it says any God-fearing corporation shouldn't have to provide insurance that includes birth control pills to their employees - even if the company itself invests in those pills for profit.

That Constitution also guarantees us the right to free speech. That means that, just like politicians and TV "news" networks, we can say anything we darn well please.

Of course, everything you've heard today is the true Charleston HIStory, whether or not the city gives us a precious license.

Reach Brian Hicks at