In an era when some (rightly) worry that blasphemy laws may be being reintroduced under the guise of prohibiting speech that gives ‘offense’, here via the New York Times is a reminder that the original approach lingers on in America too:
Mr. Kalman had already formed one such corporation for his information-technology business and now wanted the same status for his sideline as a filmmaker, the better to write off expenses on his income taxes.
The first line on the document asked Mr. Kalman to supply his chosen corporate name, and he printed it in: I Choose Hell Productions, LLC. In a personal bit of existentialism, Mr. Kalman believed that, even if life was often hellish, it was better than suicide.
A week later, the daily mail to Mr. Kalman’s home in the Philadelphia suburb of Downingtown brought a form letter from the Pennsylvania Department of State. His corporate filing had been rejected, the letter explained, because a business name “may not contain words that constitute blasphemy, profane cursing or swearing or that profane the Lord’s name.”
Mr. Kalman felt quite certain, he recalled here the other day, that the letter was some kind of prank. Nobody had even signed it. And though he did not know it at the time, Pennsylvania had granted corporate designation to entities like Devil Media, Vomit Noise Productions and Satanic Butt Slayers.
After a couple more readings, though, Mr. Kalman realized that the rejection was genuine. Pennsylvania, it turned out, indeed had a law against blasphemy…
Read the whole thing.