Tennessee Bans Offensiveness - The UpStream

Tennessee Bans Offensiveness

posted Saturday Jun 25, 2011 by Scott Ertz

Tennessee Bans Offensiveness

The Internet has become a place for the craziest stuff to live and be happy. Where else can you find Jesus floating in a pool or cups being used for that. All of the craziness has been gravitating to the Internet for years now. If you live in Tennessee, however, you are officially on notice not to enjoy any of it.

A new was passed last week in Tennessee prevents online distribution of any image that can "frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress" the viewer. Now, while the intent of the law might be to prevent others having to see some of the terrible things I wish I could unsee in my years on the web, the implementation just won't do. This will not just prevent people from seeing decapitations but also anything else. There is someone out there who has a panic attack over a waste of water and would find this video distressing.

Is this the end of WrongNumberTexts.com? Hit the break to find out.

Eugene Volokh, who runs The Volokh Conspiracy and is a legal scholar, says "Pretty clearly unconstitutional." I think we will all agree with that. There is no real way this law ends up standing up in court; the details are far too thin. That being said, as of yet it doesn't seem that anyone has directly opposed the law in a court to try and get it overturned.

Even if the law isn't overturned, I can guarantee that the Internet will never be a "safe place" for anyone. Eventually everyone will find something they find offensive and there is no law that will prevent it. While we may be ultimately responsible for the web, every country has its own top-level domains and their own laws for how those sites are used. Some countries have no laws about pornography, such as minimum age, and that content is out there on their sites.

I think the only thing that will come out of this law is a lot of interesting discussions about what the Internet is. What do you think? Will this law stand?


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