Rep. Earnest Smith and the First Amendment

Georgia state representative Earnest Smith doesn’t like having his face photoshopped into pictures.  Apparently, he really hates it when his head is photoshopped onto the body of a porn star.  From FoxNews:

 A Georgia state lawmaker with an unconventional grasp of the First Amendment is backing a bill that would make lewd photoshopping a crime punishable by a $1,000 fine.

Rep. Earnest Smith pointed, as proof of the problem, to a picture of his head that was recently edited onto a pornstar’s body. That image was created by a blogger who used the image to mock Smith.

The Augusta-based legislator said he was not worried the bill would step on First Amendment rights.

“Everyone has a right to privacy,” he told FoxNews.com. “No one has a right to make fun of anyone. It’s not a First Amendment right.”

First, Smith needs to understand that people actually do have a right to make fun of folks, especially through satire as the photoshopped photograph is.  The Supreme Court has ruled that satire is a protected form of speech.  Guess what amendment the Court cited in their decision?  If you said the First Amendment, then you win!

What Smith is seeking to do is criminalize speech that does nothing more than criticize those in power.  While, at least in theory, it may apply to all, the motivations behind this proposal is to silence the new media that often relies on satire and bombastic language to attract readers.

Now, to be fair, Smith has offered this kind of thing before.  According to the above linked article, the earlier proposal had more to do with cyber bullying.  However, now that he’s had his own photo used, it’s clearly taken on a whole new importance.  Such importance, in fact, that he told FoxNews this:

After being pressed to provide details, he said, “At this juncture, I am not at liberty to share anything with you. I don’t have to. If and when this bill passes we can revisit the issue and if I choose to give you details at that time I will, but until then I don’t have to tell you anything.”

Unfortunately for you, Rep. Smith, you actually do have to answer questions.  After all, the citizens of Georgia have the right to know what vile schemes you’re trying to push down our throat from your position of power.