Teaching Earnest Smith About the First Amendment

February 18, 2013 17:00 pm

by Erick · 14 comments

State Rep. Earnest Smith wants to pass a law that prohibits people from photoshopping elected officials to make fun of them.

According to Rep. Smith, ““No one has a right to make fun of anyone. You have a right to speak, but no one has a right to disparage another person. It’s not a First Amendment right.”

Some enterprising listener of my radio show has taken up my idea to show Earnest Smith how wrong he is. Whoever it is has created BrayingJackass.com where you can submit your photoshop efforts.

Toxic Avenger February 18, 2013 at 8:59 pm

I’m a Democrat, and I think this bill is stupid. Most of us do.

Rick Day February 18, 2013 at 11:34 pm

Coming to a theater in the Spring of 2013: “Earnest goes to Stupid”

The Last Democrat in Georgia February 19, 2013 at 3:02 am

Oh contraire, Representative Smith clearly has his finger squarely on the pulse of the state as the relentless widespread mass photoshopping of public officials is obviously the most pressing issue facing Georgia today.

gchidi February 19, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Amen. I’m a progressive, and I think this is unbearably embarrassing and stupid. So much for the support of the under-30 Internet generation. I can only hope the Democratic “leadership” is taking him to the woodshed over this.

I also hope he has Googled the term “Streisand effect.”

saltycracker February 18, 2013 at 10:00 pm
joe February 18, 2013 at 10:06 pm

I think that this bill is pretty stupid too, however, “Congress shall make no law…” is a restriction on the federal government, not on state governments. Amendments II-X restrict the states as well as the feds, but the 1st does not.

Napoleon February 19, 2013 at 11:19 am

Article 1, Sect. 1, Paragraph V of the Georgia Constitution: “Freedom of speech and of the press guaranteed. No law shall be passed to curtail or restrain the freedom of speech or of the press. Every person may speak, write, and publish sentiments on all subjects but shall be responsible for the abuse of that liberty.”

Napoleon February 19, 2013 at 11:25 am

Also, Section 1983 of the 1871 Civil Rights Act allows an individual to sue a state actor in civil court for violation of 1st Amendment rights. Now, if a state can curtail federal 1st Amendment rights, then why would a person be able to recover damages for violation of those rights by the state acting under the color of law (meaning acting under the authority of one’s office)?

gchidi February 19, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Joe, the 14th Amendment restricts the states. It basically rewrote the 10th Amendment, the one states’ rights folks like to wave around. Section 1:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

So, no state can abridge the 1st Amendment rights of its citizens either.

Napoleon February 19, 2013 at 12:32 pm

gchidi, you and Joe are particially correct. The U.S. Supreme Court has used the 14th to apply some of the Bill of Rights to the states, but not all. The problem is there is no clear cut definition as to what “due process” entails as it applies to the states. Most people would think that the “privileges and immunities” clause would be enough, but the Supreme Court gutted that clause in the Slaughterhouse Cases. Not even all of the 5th Amendment has been incorporated.

However, the 1st is considered to be totally incorporated within that clause.

joe February 19, 2013 at 5:27 pm

The title of this thread is “Teaching Earnest Smith About the First Amendment”

As Napoleon and gehidi have stated, there are several restrictions besides the First Amendment to what Rep Smith wants to do, but just to ensure that Erick understands, this is NOT a First Amendment issue.

And, Smith’s proposal is really stupid.

polpol February 18, 2013 at 11:00 pm

I suggest all refer to political broadsides both from before and after the Revolution, and particularly those from the pen of Benj Franklin, and the administration of Thomas Jefferson to get a flavor of what protected speech was then………and is now……..the medium may have changed, but the messages have not……..don’t tread on me, regardless of what body my head is affixed to…….

Will Durant February 19, 2013 at 7:02 am

I could almost be in favor of the bill if he adds being Luckoviched in with being Photoshopped.

Corvid February 19, 2013 at 2:28 pm

He is just inviting even more abuse by whining.

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