A new Tenn. Law makes it a punishable felony (In Tennessee (only?) – more on that later) to transmit any image that is intended to offend people, or as an accidental result, ends up offending someone. The image has to have no other purpose but to offend… Apparently the law is so badly written, that it punishes people who post an image that doesn’t have the ‘victim’ in it, but still offends the victim, and through a major loophole, the GOVT doesn’t have prove you intended the image to ‘distressing’ to the ‘victim’. All of the info on the loophole was dug up by the owner of this blog.
Now the broad legislation issue is a big one, because too many damn laws have this issue. They allow people who don’t try to violate them to be prosecuted (or persecuted in some cases). The bigger issue is that every image online has a potential person who will find it offensive, or distressing, and the fact that the whole “doesn’t have any other purpose but to offend” is so subjective. The victim and the people who decide whether the image has no purpose but to offend can easily say it has no purpose because the images purpose can be ridiculously offensive to them. In lay mans terms, offended people can think the offensive content is only there to offend because they are so offended by it they are not thinking what purpose it serves.
Another issue is derived from the language of the bill that makes it illegal to transmit a frightening image. Define frightening. Different things frighten different people. Are we outlawing FEAR online now? There are people out there who find images of grotesque Lovecraftian horrors frightening and then there are people who find hissing cat photos frightening. It’s too subjective. The term the bill uses is “Emotional Distress” which is very vague. Some toddler seeing a pissy cat hissing at them would cause “Emotional Distress”, so by that example, TENN is banning images of pissy cats now…
Now another issue that would make the law very hard to enforce is the possibility of someone outside of TENN offending someone Inside the state. Lets say an offensive image was “transmitted” on a message board and some right wing zealot got all offended that I “jokingly” altered an image of a map of TENN to look ‘offensive’. Since I am not from TENN, and this law pertains to the net… How the hell does the law handle this. The internet is global, and in a perfect society, NO laws (state laws at least) should concern the net… But due the the global internet factoring in to the jurisdiction of this law, I can see this being used against Non-TENN residents, and maybe even non-US people as well. Another problem is that There is no easy way online to trace people online. it requires sensitive info – the person who offended is mostly untraceable due to the fact that his IP address isn’t public info and only select people have it. The courts would not grant the offended party any ISP request to get the sensitive data (name, address, phone number, etc.) needed to arrest and persecute any Non-TENN or non-US offender’s, due to the fact that the person isn’t subject to TENN law. Or is this not true? In a CA case, CA laws were strictly stated to apply to non CA residents, found from a recent Google search of mine. What’s the precedence on this? IS it legal to arrest a Non-TENN person for accidentally offending a little brat in TENN for posting a picture of a cat that made him cry, therefore “Emotionally distressing him”? How does a non TENN resident have to comply to TENN laws? Now if this process of finding out who a person is online to arrest or sue them fails due to lack of a court request for ISP info, you will get a ton of wasted taxpayer money, in TENN. Their taxpayer money would be used to arrest various people who really didn’t do anything wrong, but due to the fact that the internets are part of the law, and the complications of ISP info not being granted, or IP Addresses being withheld by private parties (the owners of the site or forum where the ‘offender’ posted), a ton of effort will be wasted by police, lawyers, prosecutors, Courts of law granting ISP access, etc, to find a guy online who posted something some little brat in TENN found ‘scary’, oops, I meant to say “emotionally distressing”. Hey. I find this whole concept of me getting arrested for posting a ‘scary’ image emotionally distressing. I could use this law against the people who are signing it. But I won’t. I just have to much fucking integrity to stoop down to their level to arrest them under their own LAW because I found something they posted “Emotionally Distressing”.
- Tennessee Bans Posting ‘Offensive’ Images Online (yro.slashdot.org)
- For All Parents: Tenn. Law Bans Posting Images that Viewers MIGHT Find Offensive (heidelberg26.wordpress.com)
- New State Law Makes Posting Distressing Images a Crime (worldwright.wordpress.com)
- Tenn. law bans posting images that “cause emotional distress” (arstechnica.com)
- [WTF?] Tennessee Bans Posting Offensive Images Online (inquisitr.com)
- No More Muhammad Images in Tennessee? (friendlyatheist.com)
- New State Law Makes Posting Distressing Images a Crime (mashable.com)
- New Tennessee Law Kills Freedom of Thought and Speech (genomega1.wordpress.com)
- Offensive Law of the Day (thedailywh.at)
- Tennessee: Post an offensive image online? Go to jail (venturebeat.com)
- New Tennesse Law Criminalizes Free Speech, Thought Crimes: Bans Posting Images that “cause emotional distress” (atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com)
- Facebook Pics Of Ex GFs Cause Emotional Stress? You Can Sue For That In Tennessee! (khatibtoday.wordpress.com)
- Tennessee law bans ‘distressing images,’ opens your Facebook inbox (engadget.com)