I Have To Get This Out Of My System While It's Still Legal In Tennessee

Politics & Current Events

I visit Tennessee now and then. My in-laws live there. It's a beautiful state, the people seem friendly, nobody gives us trouble because my family looks different, and I always enjoy my time there.

So it pains me to realize that, under proposed law, I may be arrested the next time I go there.

See, Tennessee General Assembly Representative Charles Curtiss, a Democrat! From! SPARTA!, wants to make it a crime to post mean pictures on the internet.

I don't think I can obey that law. I can't even obey it just in Tennessee. I mean, what's life if I can't post stuff like this?

Eugene Volokh has the specifics — and pertinent analysis – of Rep. Curtiss' proposed law:

(a) A person commits an offense who intentionally:

(4) Communicates with another person or transmits or displays an image in a manner in which there is a reasonable expectation that the image will be viewed by the victim by [by telephone, in writing or by electronic communication] without legitimate purpose:

(A) (i) With the malicious intent to frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress; or

(ii) In a manner the defendant knows, or reasonably should know, would frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress to a similarly situated person of reasonable sensibilities; and

(B) As the result of the communication, the person is frightened, intimidated or emotionally distressed.

So, let's say I take this picture of Rep. Curtis:

I am a serious Rep. This is a serious issue.

And then say that, with the intent to cause Rep. Curtis emotional distress for being a censorious twat, and to intimidate him into respecting the Constitution of the United States, I post this:

No doubt Rep. Curtiss will be emotionally distressed. Am I a criminal in Tennessee — and this time not just for using big words?

Rep. Curtiss, like just about every other legislator in this country, took an oath of office. Part of that oath was a solemn vow to support the Constitution of the United States of America. By proposing patently unconstitutional drivel like this, Rep. Curtiss joins a long line of oathbreakers — government officials who are indifferent to whether their actions comply with the constitution. Such people promote contempt of the rule of law. They ought to have emotionally distressing pictures of them posted on the internet.

Edited to add: My apologies to Rep. Curtiss for misspelling his name in this post originally. Also, I note that the bill had already passed when I wrote this. Rep. Curtiss responded rather graciously — though unconvincingly — here.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. John Burgess  •  Jun 10, 2011 @4:42 pm

    While I understand this stupid law is likely focused on the cause of the day, bullying, I wonder how much of it motivated by releases of gruesome death photos or autopsy photos.

    I think both of those are subject to full First Amendment protections, but I know many people get far more squeamish about having pictures of their kids' brains splashed on the highway popping up on websites.

  2. firehat  •  Jun 10, 2011 @5:04 pm

    Ken, you were already a criminal in Tennessee for being a papist and keeping a miscegenated household.

  3. Ken  •  Jun 10, 2011 @5:11 pm

    firehat: Hey! I'm an EX-papist.

    John: perhaps, but if that's what they are trying to address, it's like trying to get a splinter out of a toddler's foot with a shotgun.

  4. RIch  •  Jun 10, 2011 @7:39 pm

    I just called and told him that his disregard for his oath to protect the constitution has caused the graves of every Marine who has died defending that document to turn over. He should be greatly distressed since he is a former marine. I should say former, I am pretty sure you are no longer a Marine when you commit to destroying what your brothers have died for.

  5. Tam  •  Jun 10, 2011 @7:49 pm

    From the linked Onion blurb: "…and the state's dead-last ranking among U.S. states in citizens-to-books ratio (70,000:1)."

    Careful, there. Knoxville ranks 11th in book sales from Amazon, and I understand that doesn't even count Harlequin romance novels and unauthorized biographies of Peyton Manning.

  6. Scott Jacobs  •  Jun 10, 2011 @8:43 pm

    This makes me want to go to Tennessee (State Motto: "A land untouched by modern dentistry.") and post horrible things, just so I can be the guy who takes this to the supreme court and gets an 9-0 decision calling them ignorant twats.

    Well, only if Scalia writes it. If someone else authors the opinion, they'd just be called morons.

  7. Ken  •  Jun 11, 2011 @7:56 am

    Tam, I seek to treat Tennessee with the same dignity and fairness that we treat all other states.

  8. Ansley  •  Jun 11, 2011 @9:43 am

    Did your kid decorate that pic for you?

  9. Xenocles  •  Jun 11, 2011 @5:38 pm

    Tam-

    What's the rank if we exclude Glenn Reynolds's purchases?

  10. Tam  •  Jun 13, 2011 @7:27 am

    Glenn still has to buy books? ;)