Should ‘Photoshop Bill’ Get Lawmakers’ Nod?

Critics say a bill aimed at making Photoshop bullying a crime tramples on citizens’ right to free speech. Tell us what you think of the bill.

Georgia lawmakers are considering a bill that would make it a crime to impose someone’s face onto an obscene depiction. To put that simply: “Photoshopping” or digitally altering an obscene image by putting another person’s face on it would become illegal.

Someone did just that after the filing of House Bill 39 in the Georgia General Assembly. Andre Walker of the Georgia Politics Unfiltered blog explained in a Feb. 11 post why he took the photo of the body of a male porn star and pasted onto it the face of State Rep. Earnest Smith, D-Augusta, one of the bill’s sponsors:

I would simply remind Representative Smith that he's a public figure, and just like someone had the protected right to depict former President George W. Bush as a monkey, I have the protected right to Photoshop the head of any elected official onto the body of anything I chose.

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States protects all forms of speech, not just spoken word. That's why House Bill 39 is so asinine. It attempts to regulate speech and I doubt it would stand up in a court of law.

After Walker’s photo began circulating online, Smith told WSB TV that the bill is misunderstood.

“It’s not about adults. It’s about, again, the sanctity and privacy of our kids,” he told the TV station, adding that he is supporting HB 39 in order to protect teens from becoming victims of cyber cruelty.

Smith also added that the bill was the result of a constituent whose teen daughter had a photo altered and spread online.

Should HB 39 be passed, those who create false obscene images of others would be charged with defamation, and those convicted could face a $1,000 fine or imprisonment of up to a year.

A copy of HB 39 as retrieved Sunday night is attached to this article.

Should lawmakers pass House Bill 39?

Share what’s on your mind with us, and then return here to see what your neighbors in Paulding, Douglas and Cobb have said.

JB February 25, 2013 at 07:00 PM
Satire? This is satire?? I must have missed that in the dictionary. Nonetheless, when the Supreme Court interprets First Amendment "speech" into protecting acts such as photoshop cyberbullying and flag burning; Second Amendment into striking out entire sections of the Amendment altering the original intention, well... we could go down the list. The problem is with the Court.
Bob Konopelski February 25, 2013 at 07:16 PM
We live in the third dumbest state. But if they push this bill through I think we can take second (sorry, Alabama). Another waste of tax payer's money, a breach of the First Amendment and impossible to enforce anyway.
Pete February 25, 2013 at 07:50 PM
JB - Satire by definition:" The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of..." A porn star essentially screws people for a living... Which is exactly what a politician wasting taxpayers money is doing, under the guise of "protecting children", with a law that protects politicians as well as the children, and is in essentially unenforceable under the First Amendment. Especially when there are far more pressing needs out there.
Fred February 26, 2013 at 01:06 AM
Given what has been talked about in the media the last few weeks, this new law should be OK. After all, the Founding Fathers did not know about Photoshop - nor photography - when they drafted the First Amendment. Back in the 18th century there was only drawings and paintings, none of this unimaginable digitally powered software that we have now. The only types of speech that should be unlimited by the government are the types that existed back in 1789; hand writing and moveable-type printing presses. The available arguments in favor of this limitation of the outdated First Amendment are: The people need protection from these type of random photo manipulation. Many Americans are in favor of limiting photo manipulation. This will keep our children safe from viewing manipulated photos. There are many countries in the world where this type of photo manipulation is illegal. The Constitution is a living document that can be interpreted to meet the demands of modern society. What we need is the Vice President to start a series of listening sessions with the stakeholders in photo manipulation so he can draft a plan for the federal government to protect us from this menace.
Pam J February 26, 2013 at 03:51 PM
Just make it legal to sue (and win) the party that put your head on something else. Make it automatic. $1M payment. That may make people think twice.


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