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:
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
- Free Speech Triumphant Or Free Speech In Retreat? - June 21st, 2017
- The Power To Generate Crimes Rather Than Merely Investigate Them - June 19th, 2017
- Free Speech, The Goose, And The Gander - June 17th, 2017
- Free Speech Tropes In The LA Times - June 8th, 2017
- I write letters - June 1st, 2017