Morality mob mad at Merrill


People keep telling Jim Merrill that he's going to hell.

They predict this in cards and letters and e-mails -- and it's clear they aren't just talking about some laborious House subcommittee.

No, Merrill's sin in the eyes of the morality mob is that he is simply trying to fix a really, really stupid law that's been on the book since the only donkeys in this state were plowing fields.

This law is so stupid that, technically, a bunch of pre-schoolers playing Candy Land is a misdemeanor.

The Daniel Island state representative has sponsored a series of bills that would allow churches and charities to hold raffles, and let a group of guys -- let's say some good ol' boys who work at the newspaper -- play poker in their homes without gambling with their criminal records.

"There is nothing intrinsically evil about five guys playing five-card draw," Merrill says. "But if you use the words lottery, raffle, cards or dice, they come down on you."

That's because these self-appointed values-voters say that such shenanigans are bad, immoral. Kitchen-table poker is a gateway sin.

You know, Candy Land leads to Keno.

Ignoring the facts

Apparently some family-values types have started spreading the word that Merrill's legislation could accidentally legalize video poker.

But Merrill is not pushing that at all. He is no radical, has no hidden agenda. He has bent over backward to assure these folks that South Carolina will not turn to salt.

In fact, when the first letters predicting his pending damnation went out, he amended the law. He wrote in it, basically, NO VIDEO POKER. THIS MEANS YOU.

So how did the nattering nabobs respond? They sent out another letter condemning him and his sinful bills.

"I understand if they are opposed to video poker," Merrill says, "but all you can do is show them. This specifically says that is illegal."

You know, it's not 1950 anymore, and it hasn't been for a long time.

Get over it.

Imposing their will

Once again, it seems like the people who complain the most about government intervention in their lives have absolutely no problem ramming their beliefs and values down someone else's throat.

Here's a news flash: that's not conservative, it's just hypocritical.

But here we go again. Soon, the rules of the Legislature will change and it will become extremely difficult to move legislation from one chamber to the other. If the House doesn't vote on Merrill's bills by the end of next week, you can forget about the kitchen-table poker and charity raffles becoming legal for another year or so. The "crime spree" will continue.

So good work, morality mob.

Imagine if these folks tackled some real problems, focused on something productive like improving education or fixing Medicaid.

If they did that, maybe we wouldn't have to worry about the rest of the state going to hell.