Georgia Lawmaker Claims 'Making Fun Of Someone' Isn't Protected Speech; Seeks To Outlaw Vulgar Photoshopping

from the pics-pics-pics dept

There are a certain number of people in America that have the mistaken idea that there is some sort of right to not be offended by the speech of others. This, of course, stands in direct contrast to the 1st amendment, but not everyone is fully up on constitutional law. The problem is that when it’s members of the government who are confused, we’ve got a massive competency problem. We’ve covered earlier examples of this, such as when some New York State senators thought that curtailing free speech was a valid reaction to some folks taking offense. Rhode Island had a similar idea and it was similarly stupid. That said, misguided as these attempts are, at least they are usually made as a result of some vocal minority in the constituency voicing their concern or anger.

Not the case in the story that gort-o-matic provides. In this instance, Georgia state lawmaker Earnest Smith wants to fine anyone who prank photoshops an image of someone $1000… after someone did it to him.

You see, some devious, twisted human being placed His Earnestness’s head on the body of a porn star. He did this for public consumption on the blog Georgia Politics Unfiltered. The porn star has a very nice body. He is a porn star, after all. And he is not Ron Jeremy.

The human being behind this affrontery has come forward. His name is Andre Walker. It is unknown if he was moved by the boast on His Earnestness’s own Web site that says he is both “accessible” and “audacious.”

However, Walker told Fox News: “The first Amendment to the Constitution of the United States protects all forms of speech, not just spoken word.”

It’s difficult to imagine anyone disagreeing with Walker’s assessment of how free speech in the United States works. Fortunately, that difficulty can be set aside, since Smith earnestly supplied the following reply to Fox News:

“No one has a right to make fun of anyone. It’s not a First Amendment right.”

Take a moment and drink that in. The statement is as impressive as it is incorrect. I say impressive, because in the world of long-winded politicians, you rarely see such a combination of wrongness and brevity. But, in case anyone in our midst is inclined to agree with Smith (who we have to assume is somehow offended at portrayals of him having pornstar-level man-junk), let me disabuse them of the idea that the first amendment doesn’t allow offensive speech.

There is a somewhat well-known anecdote involving a dictionary writer in days long past who is approached on the street by a conservative women’s group. The group congratulates him on not including any offensive words in the dictionary. In reply, the writer congratulates the women on their steadfast dedication to looking for offensive words. The point of that story is that there are people in our world who look for any and every opportunity to be offended. We do not protect the rights of American Nazi’s to march in Skokie, IL because we like that speech. We protect it because opening the door to the opportunistically offended to censor speech, even vulgar speech, is unacceptable. The end result would be the censorship of Salman Rushdie.

The fact is that the first amendment must include a license to offend, even if that means politician’s heads will be placed on porn star’s bodies.

Filed Under: , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Georgia Lawmaker Claims 'Making Fun Of Someone' Isn't Protected Speech; Seeks To Outlaw Vulgar Photoshopping”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Andrew Norton (profile) says:

PP Georgia opposes it

We of the Georgia Pirate Party have been quite vocal about it too

We’re currently mulling running a canddiate against him, and the bills sponsor Pam Dickerson, if we can find someone in the district to run (that’s our big problem right now)

mhab says:

1 word "Satire"

This lawmaker needs to go back to his highschool government class and check over the constitution section VERY carefully… he will shortly find that there is an explicit provision in the constitution which allows for “Satire”. This makes it legal to poke fun of people and particularly politicians and government officials…

incoming satire of this lawmaker in 3…2…

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

“”No one has a right to make fun of anyone. It’s not a First Amendment right.””

Yes it is you simpering idiot.
The fact you can not wrap your small reptilian brain around this, and the fact your now foaming at the mouth over the mean things I just called you show that you are unfit for office.
Of all of the colossal wastes of time, your personal tantrum over someone making fun of you is costing your state time, money, effort as you attempt to pass a law that you KNOW violates the law of the land. You will then demand more resources be dumped into defending your idiocy.

Your a fucking thin skinned whiny baby who needs his diaper changed before they change who sits in your office dealing with the serious issues facing your state.

relghuar says:

Right not to be offended

Please! Of course there is a right not to be offended!
Everyone has an inherent and inalienable right not to give a shit about what anyone says :-/ I’d really like to see anyone trying to make me be offended.
So, now this misinformation is off the table, all that remains is teach people to actually exercise this basic human right.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...