Ever drawn a moustache on a picture or use your photo editing program to alter a picture of another person? Surely it’s all in fun, but if a Georgia Democrat gets his way it’ll be a crime.
It’s not uncommon to hear of a photo being “photoshopped,” the act of modifying a picture using Adobe’s famous image editing software. It’s quite common with celebrities and politicians; in fact probably the most photoshopped person of the last few years has been President Obama.
The right to modify a image to convey an idea, for satire or commentary has been around as long as there has been paints and cave walls. Even artists have modified copies of famous painting to make fun of their contemporaries. But apparently one politician isn’t happy about a modified image of himself and he’s willing to throw out the right of free expression to stop the practice.
Georgia Democratic Rep. Earnest Smith was photoshopped into a provocative position and rather than seeing the humor in it he’s bound and determined to make the act a crime; say so long to the First Amendment. If Smith has his way a person may be fined or imprisoned for altering an image of a person. Jay Leno’s staff at The Tonight Show will suddenly find themselves on the wrong end of the law should bills such as Earnest Smith’s be enacted.
Smith displayed an image of his head that was placed on the body of a porn star by a blogger as a demonstration of the disrespectful and potentially illegal act and he’s not the least concerned about the ramifications to the First Amendment.
“Everyone has a right to privacy,” Smith told FoxNews.com. “No one has a right to make fun of anyone. It’s not a First Amendment right.”
However perhaps Rep. Smith should read the First Amendment to the Constitution that guarantees the free right of expression.
Noted Constitutional professor and attorney Jonathan Turley wrote that “It is Smith’s understanding of free speech rather than aesthetics that concern me. His new misdemeanor crime would apply to the alteration of any photograph that ‘causes an unknowing person wrongfully to be identified as the person in an obscene depiction.’”
Turley points out there are plenty of legal avenues to pursue if one feels "defamed." Parody, on the other hand, is "often treated as an exception."
Rather than using the current legal system, that would undoubtedly dismiss such a parody, Smith wants to refine the First Amendment to prevent “making fun of anyone.”
Perhaps Rep. Smith doesn’t handle being made fun of very well so it might be better if he took himself out of the public light where he’s subject to ridicule or lampoon. In the meantime, we’d all be a lot better off if politically correct progressives like Smith would keep their hands off our constitutional rights.
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