by Rick Snider

The latest wave of political correctness now has the University of Maryland band not playing “Maryland, My Maryland” before football games, for fear the state’s official song containing Civil War lyrics might offend any “Northern scum” listening.

“As part of the university’s efforts to reaffirm our values as a campus community,” said Maryland spokeswoman Katie Lawson in a release, “we are assessing the songs that are played at Intercollegiate Athletic events. We are suspending the playing of ‘Maryland, My Maryland’ to evaluate if it is consistent with the values of our institution at this time.”

It seems unlikely the school’s review will come back with, “Yeah, we’re OK with insulting Northern scum. Play on.”

Here’s my problem: This is a state-funded school refusing to play the official state song. If it were a private school, fine. But unless the university is no longer accepting tax revenues, then it’s time to support the state’s song.

If band members think the lyrics are wrong, petition the state legislature to change them. It would only take a pen stroke, much like “My Old Kentucky Home” altered a slave reference. But two bills seeking changes in the song over the last two years were met with indifference by lawmakers, who claimed they had better things to do.

The battle hymn was written in 1861 in support of the Confederacy as Maryland was a border state with supporters on both sides. It became the official state song in 1939. “Maryland, My Maryland” also refers to president Abraham Lincoln as a tyrant, despot and vandal.

The song has nine stanzas, with the third most often sung, including before the Preakness Stakes annually. The ninth and final stanza rarely ever heard includes, “Huzza! she spurns the Northern scum!”

Should Maryland update the song given the war ended 152 years ago? Probably. It wouldn’t take much. But is it offending anyone when rarely sung? Not really.

Maryland officials were quick to support the First Amendment when students chanted, “[Blank] you, JJ,” at Duke guard J.J. Redick during a 2004 nationally-televised basketball game. The school didn’t like it, but didn’t restrain free speech.

What’s the difference now? The state song is no longer free to sing? Shame on Maryland officials for letting political expediency overrun good judgment.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter @Snide_Remarks.

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