Tennessee outlaws offensive imagery  
Thursday, June 9, 2011, 12:14
A law was recently updated in Tennessee making it illegal for any resident to transmit or display any image which causes "emotional distress". Breaking this new law can cause you to receive up to a year of jailtime or fines not exceeding $2,500.

This is a blatant violation of the right to free speech and as some have pointed out the law even violates itself by being so offensive. Just the fact that something like this can get passed into effect has to make you wonder if people are really this misinformed about electronic communication or if they are just trying to pass something so ridiculous that people take notice.

The problem isn't even primarily that the law against obscenity (an undeniable trait of humanity) but that its so up to interpretation that it could be applied to almost anything.

Requirements for breaking this law are as follows:
(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.

Its all enough to make one relate to a gloomy proposition put forth in a book called Atlas Shrugged over a decade ago:
"Did you really think we want those laws observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them to be broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against... We're after power and we mean it... There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Reardon, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with." ('Atlas Shrugged' 1957)

Hopefully this law will immediately be removed or drastically modified due to all of the attention it has been getting in the last few days.


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