It’s bound to get lost amidst President Obama’s State of the Union address, and all the silliness he spewed forth earlier this week, however in my home state of Georgia, there’s something brewing that could be just as bad as any Washington power play.
You see, Georgia Representative Earnest Smith seems offended that a blogger took his face and photoshopped it onto the body of a male porn star. So offended, in fact, that he wants to outlaw the practice.
Rep. Earnest Smith pointed, as proof of the problem, to a picture of his head that was recently edited onto a pornstar’s body. That image was created by a blogger who used the image to mock Smith.
The Augusta-based legislator said he was not worried the bill would step on First Amendment rights.
“Everyone has a right to privacy,” he told FoxNews.com. “No one has a right to make fun of anyone. It’s not a First Amendment right.”
Now, Smith made this proposal a year ago regarding a cyber-bullying case, but his grasp on the constitution - and apparently, reality - have slipped even more. You see, Smith is talking about limiting a timeless form of speech. No, photoshop isn’t timeless, but satire is.
Satirical art has a time honored place in political discourse. In face, the Supreme Court has upheld satire as protected speech, regardless of what Smith may choose to argue. Frankly, sticking his mug on a porn star’s body couldn’t be anything other than satire…or a calculated insult to the porn star.
The fact of the matter is that we live in a time when people will warp their interpretation of the Constitution to either allow or preclude any activity they want it to. That’s how someone like Dianne Feinstein can look someone in the eye and tell them that her assault weapon ban doesn’t run afoul of the Second Amendment. Smith is just another side of the same coin, the side that thinks it’s acceptable to limit my rights.
The fact that satire is usually targeting elected officials, and these days that usually means photoshopping, only reenforces the evil that these kinds of laws can drop on an ususpecting populace.
For the record though, Smith isn’t even talking about civil courts handling this. Oh no, he wants this to be a criminal offence. A misdemeanor charge, to be exact. Joy oh joy, right? After all, what could go wrong? I do seem to notice how photoshop satire only sucks when its you or yours that’s the target. Funny how that works, isn’t it?
Hopefully, this proposal will wither and die on the vine. Unfortunately, we Georgians might also end up with a law telling us what kinds of discourse we can legally engage in…at least until the law is challenged and overturned.