News Column

Petitions want States to Withdraw from U.S.

Nov. 25, 2012

Dawn Kurry, Richmond County Daily Journal, Rockingham, N.C.

states, petition, withdraw, Unites states

Nov. 25--Just a week after President Barack Obama was re-elected as president of the United States, seven petitions asking that their state secede from the U.S. -- including one from North Carolina -- have reached the minimum number of signatures needed in order to be addressed by the Obama Administration, which is 25,000 names.

The petitions, started by residents and not government officials, have gone viral since they were posted on the White House's website, www.whitehouse.gov/petitions, last week.

On Monday, there were 23 petitions on the site asking 21 states to secede from the Union -- two states had duplicate petitions. States that have reached or passed 25,000 signatures include North Carolina with 30,251, Tennessee with 30,918, Georgia with 31,916, Louisiana with 36,840 and Texas with 116,527 by Friday afternoon.

Although the website was created to allow citizens to express discontent, it includes frivolous petitions like "Transfer funds from the drug war to fund the research and development of the genetic engineering of domestic cat girls." The creator of this petition said in the description, "We believe that the genetic engineering of cat girls could be potentially beneficial for the economy ... The money being used to fight the drug war is effectively pointless. We could be using this money to fund other much more important things such as the genetic engineering of cat girls for domestic use."

Other petitions include one calling for "the President to attend a Fark.com party. If scheduling does not permit," the petition states, "at least have a beer with Drew Curtis" -- founder of Fark, a news aggregating website. That petition had 1,012 supporters as of Friday.

While a quick look at the petition list might imply that people who are proud of their state are getting together and campaigning for secession, in reality many of these petitions are signed by people who don't live in the state petitioning to withdraw, said officials.

The website also has a section of responses, where White House administration members explain what is being done about some issues, such as tax reform or protection of women's' health rights, while other responses explain why nothing can be done, or why the petition can't be commented on, such as marijuana legalization petitions in which citizens ask that marijuana be taxed and regulated like alcohol. The statements redirect you to links for different pages in which the administration explains its stance on things like marijuana regulation.

While many think a government petition is a serious request for change, others think it's a joke.

"If it weren't for the sheer number of signatures, the media wouldn't be paying attention," said Timothy Stanley, historian for Oxford University, in an editorial posted by CNN. "Legally, secession is impossible, and all attempts to do it have failed."

Stanley said people who sign the petitions are unhappy with their vote, or with the Democratic Party. Many of them are disgruntled business owners who have faced hard economic times.

"The call for secession will be mocked and dismissed," said Stanley. "But while it is built on a legal fallacy, it does articulate honestly the feelings of a growing number of conservatives who feel emasculated in 21st century America. It's now the duty of the Republican Party to try to integrate them back into mainstream, legitimate politics."

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(c)2012 the Richmond County Daily Journal (Rockingham, N.C.)

Visit the Richmond County Daily Journal (Rockingham, N.C.) at www.yourdailyjournal.com

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