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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 12:59pm

    To be fair, I'm sure porn stars don't like their faces covered up by a Congressman's face either.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 1:05pm

    wat

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 1:08pm

    Does he realise that he is proposing a double edged sword, he could prevent himself being nasty about his opponent in a future contest, and lose the election.

     

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  4.  
    icon
    yaga (profile), Feb 25th, 2013 @ 1:09pm

    Re:

    Well certainly not a state congressman. That's like a kick in the nuts to the porn star.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    Kevin H (profile), Feb 25th, 2013 @ 1:11pm

    Re:

    The catch: Does not apply to actually politicians.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    Kevin H (profile), Feb 25th, 2013 @ 1:11pm

    Re:

    The catch: Does not apply to actual politicians.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    Thomas (profile), Feb 25th, 2013 @ 1:12pm

    People expect...

    a member of the Georgia legislature to understand the Constitution? Or even cares for that matter... Many politicians, especially the less honest ones, get satirized regularly. Maybe he can try his luck in court or getting the legislature to pass a law making insults a crime.

     

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  8.  
    icon
    Andrew Norton (profile), Feb 25th, 2013 @ 1:13pm

    PP Georgia opposes it

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

    http://www.piratepartyofgeorgia.org/2013/02/the-absurd-unconstitutional-photo.html

    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)

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 1:19pm

    Or, instead of passing that law he can photoshop the person who made the image, to make them look like they're in jail.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Another AC, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 1:23pm

    Re: PP Georgia opposes it

    lol you have to pick a different name than 'PP Georgia' :)

     

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  11.  
    icon
    radarmonkey (profile), Feb 25th, 2013 @ 1:23pm

    A rose by any other name ....

    Outlaw Photoshop? Use GIMP!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 1:43pm

    He thought it was bad before trying to make this law, it's going to get really ugly now :D

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Feb 25th, 2013 @ 1:50pm

    Re: Re:

    So... How long until Jay Leno/Conan/Jon Stewart makes fun of him over this?

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 1:51pm

    Re: People expect...

    If I remember correctly, a few years ago, Georgia politicians decided Guam was going to capsize.

    They've upped their game!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Mr. Applegate, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 1:54pm

    He is just pissed...

    because he fessed up to his wife before he found out it wasn't really a picture of him with his mistress.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    mhab, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 1:55pm

    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...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 2:16pm

    I thought it was strange...

    that you didn't include the image. So for those who were also wondering here's a link...

    http://dailycaller.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Earnest-Smith.jpg

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 2:31pm

    It is easy to agree with free speech, when the content it is something you agree with.

    it is much harder when the content disgusts you.

    At the same time, freedom of speech is not freedom from repercussions of that speech.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 2:31pm

    It is easy to agree with free speech, when the content it is something you agree with.

    it is much harder when the content disgusts you.

    At the same time, freedom of speech is not freedom from repercussions of that speech.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 2:48pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    tonight

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    Togashi (profile), Feb 25th, 2013 @ 2:49pm

    Re: Re: PP Georgia opposes it

    I would call them the GAPP, because then I could tell people to mind them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    icon
    Togashi (profile), Feb 25th, 2013 @ 2:52pm

    Re:

    Well, it's not freedom from most repercussions of that speech. It is freedom from some governmental repercussions, though.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 2:55pm

    This is a meme waiting to happen.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    TheLastCzarnian (profile), Feb 25th, 2013 @ 3:30pm

    Re: 1 word "Satire"

    There are massive books of political cartoons which specifically make fun of politicians. This senator's level of cluelessness is truly epic.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Feb 25th, 2013 @ 3:41pm

    ""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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 4:09pm

    Re:

    You do know he's unlikely to come here to read your open letter to him?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 5:22pm

    Only corporations have rights.
    and GA does not have a lock on the crazy, look at Montana - lol

    http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/02/22/1628631/montana-bill-would-give-corporations-the- right-to-vote/?mobile=nc

    There's all sorts of crazy being introduced at the state level.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 9:18pm

    Re:

    Corporations the right to vote? Don't they already have that? Last I heard, it was called "lobbying".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    BentFranklin (profile), Feb 25th, 2013 @ 9:32pm

    Re:

    Wouldn't having to vote would be a step backwards for corporations?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Feb 25th, 2013 @ 11:08pm

    Re: Re:

    He is running around looking for photoshopped pictures of himself online. He appears to not be tech savvy, I'm sure there is a decent chance of him ending up here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Some Guy, Feb 26th, 2013 @ 2:14am

    We do not protect the rights of American Nazi's


    American Nazi's what?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Feb 26th, 2013 @ 2:58am

    Re:

    What impressed me is that he KNOWS the body belongs to a porn star... Rather telling eh?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2013 @ 3:54am

    he wants 'outlawing' himself, friggin' moron!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2013 @ 5:11am

    Re: Re:

    Yes, it is well known that corporations "vote" with their "contributions" and it is now considered to be their right to free speech. This would be just another step in the general direction towards crazy town.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    relghuar, Feb 26th, 2013 @ 10:25pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Feb 27th, 2013 @ 3:25am

    Re:

    Why don't you just follow the link? It's a rather well-known court case....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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