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Tennessee passes law criminalizing posting of any image that someone finds offensive

Sunday, June 12, 2011 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: Tennessee, offensive, health news

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(NaturalNews) Just when you thought lawmaking in America couldn't get any more ridiculous comes a new piece of legislation that quite possibly could be the most outrageous, if not unconstitutional law ever passed.

The geniuses in the Tennessee legislature passed a bill which makes it a crime to "transmit or display an image" online that is likely to "frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress" to anyone who sees it. Gov. Bill Haslam perpetuated the idiocy when he signed it into law last week.

As if the United States didn't already jail more people than Russia or China, persons found guilty of violating this new legal monstrosity could face a year in prison along with a $2,500 fine.

Only, who gets to decide what is likely to "frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress" to someone? Doesn't everyone find something emotionally stressful or frightening? Couldn't someone find a picture of a teddy bear, a flower or even a baby offensive and distressing?

What's more, the "victim" need not even be the intended recipient of the image. "Anyone who sees the image is a potential victim. If a court decides you "should have known" that an image you posted would be upsetting to someone who sees it, you could face months in prison and thousands of dollars in fines," says a report detailing the provisions of the bill.

Besides the obvious insult to personal liberties and the sheer lunacy of this act, it also gives state law enforcement authorities unprecedented access to personal online communications. "The government can get access to 'images or communications' posted to a social networking site by offering 'specific and articulable facts,' suggesting that the information sought is 'relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation,'" said the report. So much for any pretense of privacy.

Legal experts are already predicting this piece of "legislation" won't stand. In fact, since Tennessee is within the legal purview of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court, "it is bound by that court's Warshak decision, which held that the Fourth Amendment requires the government to obtain a full search warrant in order to access e-mail communications," the report said.

It boggles the mind how such legislation can even be introduced, much less passed and signed into law. The collective I.Q. of the entire Tennessee legislature must have fallen three dozen points or more after this turkey hit the books.

We can almost hear the lawyers stampeding to court over this one. If we could buy stock in the outcome of court cases, it would be hard to pass up investing in this sure thing.
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