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Censorship Government United States Your Rights Online

Tennessee Bans Posting 'Offensive' Images Online 372

Chaonici writes "Last Monday, Tennessee's Governer Bill Haslam signed a law prohibiting the transmission or display of an image that is likely to 'frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress to' anyone who sees it. In Tennessee, it is already illegal to use other methods of communication, such as telephones or e-mail, to offend someone; the new law updates legislation to include images sent or posted online. However, the scope of this law is broader, in that anyone who sees the image is a potential victim. If a court finds that a violator should have known that someone would be offended by the image in question, they face up to a year in prison or up to $2,500 in fines."
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Tennessee Bans Posting 'Offensive' Images Online

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  • by MrHanky ( 141717 ) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @05:05PM (#36393566) Homepage Journal

    I'm pretty sure it would offend most people on here. Ironic that a law text should be able to break itself.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 09, 2011 @05:07PM (#36393586)

    Does this law apply to online news sources as well? That would make it *very* difficult to report on the new in an unbiased fashion, since almost all news nowadays is sure to emotionally offend someone. Not that unbiased news reporting happens a lot these days.

  • by milbournosphere ( 1273186 ) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @05:08PM (#36393596)
    of this crap. These 'offensive' communications laws have been in place for decades, over radio, TV, and now the web. At what point is the government going to realize that just as with every other communication media, if one doesn't want to see/hear/view it, one simply needs to change the channel, click the back button, or (heaven forbid) turn the device off and go outside? Leave our radios, television sets and internet alone. I swear, if I hear 'think of the children' as justification for this crap one more time...
  • Hmmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RenHoek ( 101570 ) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @05:11PM (#36393630) Homepage

    Let some Tennessee statesman post a graph about projected job loss for the coming years and sue..

    In fact I think any imagery related with Republican elections are automatically in. Fox news is out of business in Tennessee as well. :)

  • by spidercoz ( 947220 ) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @05:14PM (#36393656) Journal
    It will happen, it's part of life. How you deal with it is what matters. You can either be an adult, suck it up, and move on, or you can be a little crybaby bitch and turn it into a huge legal stink costing taxpayers money.

    This is one of those bullshit laws that lawyers love. It doesn't even matter if they win a case on it, they still make off like bandits. How the hell they can even pretend to legislate something as completely subjective as "offense" is beyond me. If there were any real justice this would have been struck down as unconstitutional the moment it became law.

    Good job, Tennessee, once again you've made the whole country look like a bunch of backward illiterate morons.
  • by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @05:21PM (#36393724)

    And a female wearing a Burka is offensive to others.

    Do they think through these laws?

  • Here's who decides (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BigSlowTarget ( 325940 ) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @05:35PM (#36393860) Journal

    The only people who get to decide what's offensive are the prosecutor or DA (who brings charges) and the jury (if there is one). What you find offensive simply doesn't matter because it will not be brought up in the courtroom.

    In reality this will be a handy way of imposing legal costs, fines and jail time on anyone the DA doesn't like or who offends people with influence in that department.

  • by BigSlowTarget ( 325940 ) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @05:36PM (#36393880) Journal

    The newspapers will probably not be prosecuted unless they attack the DA or other political figures.

  • Oaths (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @05:46PM (#36393984) Homepage Journal

    Did the people who voted for or signed the law ever take an oath to protect, preserve, or defend a Constitution including freedom of speech?

    Sure they did. As did all members of congress, the executive, and the judiciary. You'll note how well *that* worked.

    An oath without enforcement and punishment is utterly worthless unless the oath-giver has profoundly well established ethics that include the concept of personal honor in their foundation.

  • Jesus H. Christ (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ALeavitt ( 636946 ) <aleavitt@gmail. c o m> on Thursday June 09, 2011 @05:47PM (#36393988)
    As a Jew, I take offense to any and all depictions of Jesus that depict him as caucasian, aryan, or naked. I suppose it's time to move to Tennessee and start suing the bejesus (pun very much intended) out of everybody.
  • Re:...really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by causality ( 777677 ) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @06:13PM (#36394306)

    Maybe not the Supreme Court, but how many tens/hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees would it take to get that far? All for a $2500 fine?

    Looks like Tennessee has a strong extortion racket going, so long as they don't get greedy and go after or something.

    That's why any citizen who wants to hire an attorney should automatically have standing to challenge the Constitutionality of any law.

    Here's my logic. All citizens are expected to know and obey all laws that apply to their jurisdiction. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Since the law applies to all, and all are expected to obey it, all should have standing to challenge it. Why should someone need to be convicted under the law before they even have a chance to do that, when compliance to a bad law also has a cost and is also a type of damage?

    These politicians value an imaginary right not found in the Constitution, namely the "right to never be offended", more than they value an enumerated natural right that is plainly protected by the Constitution. Bear in mind that the overwhelming plurality of politicians are lawyers -- it is not like they don't understand what the Constitution says. It's not like you would need to be a lawyer to understand the First Amendment. It's more like they know they can do this with impunity, so what's their incentive to honor their oath of office and the highest law of the land?

    I'd love to see jail time for politicians who support this bullshit, no matter what other downside to that there may be. If that means politicians spend a great deal of their time trying to jail each other, that's fine with me -- there's more where those came from, time they spend doing that is time they can't spend doing damage to the People, and that would provide incentive for passing only laws that are obviously Constitutional. When I say jail time, I'm not talking a nice cushy vacation getaway type of prison either, I'm talking count them among the general inmate population and see how well they fare.

    It's unjust that a few politicians can make millions suffer due to their idiocy, and when the law is finally defeated after great personal cost, financial cost, and possibly years of time, there is no penalty for the legislators who voted for it. This needs to be changed and they need to be reminded that they are our servants, not our masters. I've never heard of a single nation in history which had a legally "untouchable" ruling class that gave a damn about freedom and prosperity. I doubt we're going to be the first.

  • by causality ( 777677 ) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @06:19PM (#36394370)

    The law requires that the image be intended to cause harm, and have absolutely no other purpose whatsoever at all. Newspapers are safe unless they start publishing pictures for no other purpose than to intimidate or threaten people (Oh, did you think the law said offend? that was made up by Ars Technica to get you offended!)

    It's already illegal to threaten people. What does this law proscribe that was not already covered by existing laws?

  • Re:Holiday Fun! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rrohbeck ( 944847 ) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @06:30PM (#36394486)

    Even worse, what about all the images of a half naked man nailed to a cross? That scared me as a kid and I'm sure will scare many today. Those pictures (and their abstraction, only the cross) have to go.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 09, 2011 @06:43PM (#36394664)

    Governor, I find your face offensive

  • Re:I'm so confused (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @06:57PM (#36394788) Journal

    i suspect this is just an extension of the purposely harassing someone laws that got royally screwed up in the process. they are designed to stop intimidation and harassment of someone specific by someone specific.

    An example of this is where someone's father has passed on and a person who is upset with them for any reason, decides to send pictures of him dead with captions drawn on it saying something I'm glad or something similar. It's to stop someone from calling up repeatedly and saying congratulations on losing your job, your house, your car, I'm gonna fuck your daughter and steal your wife.

    The ability of someone to do that can be debated, but the intentions would be pure malice and some people think the government has the ability to stop some of that by laws with penalties much the same way they do with laws against physical violence.

    Don't delude yourself into thinking something like this law was supposed to cleans the intertubes for the fine citizens of that state. It's more to do with crap like this []

  • by Lanteran ( 1883836 ) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @07:33PM (#36395168) Homepage Journal
    Responding to AC troll, but what's wrong with being anti-abortion? I'm sure many moderators here would disagree, but it's a legitimate viewpoint. It's my opinion that as soon as it has become a life form with unique DNA, different from both partners, it's not strictly a part of the woman's body- it's an independent life form though it requires nutrition. But that's just me.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak