PetaPixel

Tennessee Makes Posting ‘Emotionally Distressing’ Images a Crime

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed a new law last week that makes it a crime to post images to the Internet that “frighten, intimidate, or cause emotional distress.” Violators found guilty of doing so now face up to one year in jail and $2,500 in fines.

[...] for image postings, the “emotionally distressed” individual need not be the intended recipient. 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. [#]

Needless to say, the Internet is in an uproar over this, and it seems pretty likely that the law will be struck down for being unconstitutional very soon.

(via The Volokh Conspiracy via Engadget)


Image credit: Peek-A-Brother by evilpeacock


 
 
  • http://twitter.com/JackCallum Jack Kennedy

    Aren’t some images meant to be ‘emotionally distressing’ to convey a strong point, for example, a charity may use images of starving children in Africa to motivate people to donate. The last thing a charity wants is to be prosecuted.

  • http://blog.wingtangwong.com/ Wing Wong

    So is a photograph of the law, which greatly distresses me, illegal to post in Tennessee?

    So the law is basically stating: if it bothers someone and makes them uncomfortable, we’ll punish you for publishing it.

    I guess promotional posters for various thriller movies are out as well. Oh wait, I think that might also cover photographs of religious/hate crime/hate groups/important points of history/concentration camps/etc. as well.

    I guess this also means that any photograph or image of someone, which is distressing to that person, because it is reporting on something embarassing is out of the question as well. Nice avenue for public figures to sue and punish people who try to report the truth… since the truth can be quite distressing.

  • http://blog.wingtangwong.com/ Wing Wong

    So is a photograph of the law, which greatly distresses me, illegal to post in Tennessee?

    So the law is basically stating: if it bothers someone and makes them uncomfortable, we’ll punish you for publishing it.

    I guess promotional posters for various thriller movies are out as well. Oh wait, I think that might also cover photographs of religious/hate crime/hate groups/important points of history/concentration camps/etc. as well.

    I guess this also means that any photograph or image of someone, which is distressing to that person, because it is reporting on something embarassing is out of the question as well. Nice avenue for public figures to sue and punish people who try to report the truth… since the truth can be quite distressing.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve read elsewhere is that all this does is update existing legislation to add the internet to the list of “old media”.  As in, this has been law before, I think concerning print and broadcast.  Why it hasn’t been struck down before, I don’t know.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve read elsewhere is that all this does is update existing legislation to add the internet to the list of “old media”.  As in, this has been law before, I think concerning print and broadcast.  Why it hasn’t been struck down before, I don’t know.

  • http://twitter.com/Blackbird_2 Bob Dunkin

    …there goes the news. 

  • http://twitter.com/Blackbird_2 Bob Dunkin

    …there goes the news. 

  • Ruhre

    This is like, I don’t know, stupid? Does this dude know that Internet is, well, worldwide?

  • Ilker

    WTF is wrong with all the politicians, cops, lawmakers and etc.? It’s like all the problems in the world are solved, they’ve got nothing left to do and all they do is to attack images, photographers, websites and etc. I guess Mr. Haslam felt like he wasn’t good for anything and thought at least he could follow the mainstream of attacking photography related content so that he could have his name heard.

  • http://www.facebook.com/abusethedog Micah Robinson-Caputo

    I contacted the ACLU yesterday about this. They have already contacted me this morning and said that they are investigating it, as well as the required legal jargon that they are not committing to taking action.

    I did so, because I am a photographic artist in Tennessee whose art is meant to offend. Sometimes my art takes on religious, ironic, sexual overtones, which can be disturbing to some. Creating this art and posting it online in order to sell the originals and promote my art shows is part of my established free speech.

  • Bob

    Tenneessee Outlaws Goatse. Tonight at 11.

  • Hysyanz

    hmm who does this law actually apply to?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Austin-Hoherd/576367461 Daniel Austin Hoherd

    Land of the free?

    Art is supposed to cause an emotional reaction, and sometimes that is a negative emotional reaction, a distress.

    This is 1984 in action.  War is peace when you can’t report on its horrors without going to jail.

  • Pingback: Tennessee makes posting scary images a crime | Matador Radar

  • Barry Cunningham

    So, can this new law be used to take down Fox, CNN, all local news shows, Rush Limbaugh, Republican rants, weather alerts, amber alerts, and 30% of all advertising?

    Works for me. Can’t wait.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PQ54IG5P6I73FWHYGC4LVDZQYI Michael

    Tennessee fail.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matteo.domenico Matteo Domenico

    “What? The land of the free?
    Whoever told you that is your enemy?”RATM – Know Your Enemy

  • Vesco6

    Governor must of come from Arizona

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Vin-Divan/602313655 Vin Divan

    Saturday Night Live had a skit about this kind of thing, “Bystander Trauma” asserted by a sleezy lawyer played by Phil Hartman.

  • http://twitter.com/Myrddon Henning Nilsen

    Feels good to live in europe.

  • http://ohnostudio.com Web

    A chop quote from the “law”"

    “The same is true even if you didn’t intend to distress those people, but
    reasonably should have known that the material ….   …. would “cause emotional distress to a
    similarly situated person of reasonable sensibilities.”

    Should have known? Should have KNOWN? Do the legislators realize that many people on the internet can barely feed and bathe themselves??

    And from the artist who posted above, Micah Robinson-Caputo

    “I am a photographic artist in Tennessee whose art is meant to offend.”

    I am not familiar with your art. If I don’t like it, I simply won’t look any more. But I will defend with all my being your right to display it.

  • General The Sam

    So what about people who have irrational fears of things like microwaves, ovens, toilets, dogs, etc.?  What about fashion critics who get all bent out of shape over someone wearing an article of clothing that was “so last year”?  This is so incredibly stupid and so blatantly an infringement on our right to free speech.  They better make it illegal to post pictures of Haslam on the internet in Tennessee because that will distress me.

  • Saabman

    This seems like more government control to me, also seems a bit coincidental since recently there was an uproar over a photo journalist turning in war footage of a soldier being wounded, who shortly after died, then said coverage was published. Furthermore, it seems there isn’t as many lawsuits as before, maybe this is just a way to increase economy for out of work attorneys.

  • Saabman

    You may want to rethink adding “cops” to that post, since the police only enforce the law not write it.

  • CSC

    Incredibly stupid to waste tax payers money on legislation like this, then waste more defending it when it’s inevitably challenged.  Let’s just hope that what seems like an obviously unenforceable law really will be struck down.  Some of the stuff that’s come out of the Supreme Court lately is questionable.

  • CSC

    AZ’s governor was foolish to sign SB1070 for the same reason the TN gov was foolish to sign this law.  Making new laws that can be legitimately challenged, costing the tax payers millions, is a dumb thing to do. 

    New laws need to be written to withstand challenges or they shouldn’t even be considered.  Maybe if state legislatures thought about that, they’d save a lot of time and actually have time to READ the bills that were left. 

    I’ve lived in several states, and AZ is the one I’ve lived in longest. Also lived in OK, where a state legislator told me they “don’t have time to read the bills they sign.”  Hmmm…aren’t consumer chastised for not reading contracts they sign?

    Not everyone in a state that has a stupid law is an ignoramous; unfortunately some of the legislators are, as are many of the voters who get all their info from the TV set. There is also a lot of corporate money flowing in state capitols just like in DC, to grease the wheels.

  • Bgreenjay

    yup bit like our super injuntions ..got no teeth at all, Tennessee law only aplicable in Tennessee, super injuctions only law in UK..as they have found out..why do we pay these idiots….

  • AK

    Mr. Haslam needs to get his head out of his ass. . .  I mean, seriously?  Did this guy not graduate high school?

  • http://twitter.com/DREGstudios Brandt Hardin

    You can see my response to this new law as a Tennessee artist on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/07/potentially-offensive-portrait-governor.html with my portrait of our Governor Bill Haslam and his ravishing wife.

  • http://www.facebook.com/duke.shin1 Duke Shin

    Goatse.

  • RHW

    I live north of you but if they were to try something like this in Canada I think there would be a flood of ‘emotional distress’ cases here when the next elections happen. “Judge, the Candidate’s election poster caused me great anxiety. Arrest him!”. You may want to try something like that there. Let’s see how THAT would go over!