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Augusta lawmaker targets altered photos

Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 11:09 AM
Last updated Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013 2:11 AM
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ATLANTA — An Augusta legislator has found himself the victim of the type of online photo manipulation that he is working to outlaw.

Rep. Earnest Smith said Monday that he learned last week that someone had digitally pasted his head on the body of a nude man. That’s why he’s cosponsoring a bill that would make such manipulation a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine. It was authored by fellow Democrat Pam Dickerson, of Conyers, who first introduced it last year in response to online attacks on a teenage girl.

“It’s clear that we need to do something,” he said.

Smith said he doesn’t know who did it to him.

“I could not venture to give you an answer,” he said.

But political blogger Andre Walker, who writes Georgia Unfiltered, acknowledged creating the altered photo. He said he found a pornographic picture of a man whose skin tones matched Smith’s, pasted on the legislator’s head and blurred out the genitalia.

“(Georgia Unfiltered) admits doctoring Rep. Smith’s picture to show the stupidity of his Photoshop bill,” Walker wrote in a text message.

The bill went nowhere last year, but Smith said he hopes lawmakers will see it could happen to them.

So far, he has heard no objections from free-speech advocates defending the Constitution’s First Amendment.

“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,” he said.

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Little Lamb
47263
Points
Little Lamb 02/11/13 - 12:18 pm
9
2
Free Speech

The story does not spell out what the proposed law forbids or allows, but what Rep. Ernest Smith says here is clearly not correct:

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,” he said.

Either you have freedom of speech or you do not. If we do not have the right to make fun of anyone, then Bill Maher is a felon.

GiantsAllDay
9963
Points
GiantsAllDay 02/11/13 - 12:26 pm
5
4
Hello Augusta Chronicle

You should post the picture of the unknown nude man. I just looked up Ernest Smith's pic online. I'm thinking maybe instead of outlawing this kind of activity, maybe he should be paying this guy. Anyway, Ernie baby, thanks for going to work every day under the golden dome in Atlanta and taking care of all the important issues. I mean, GEEZUS!!

Rick McKee
416
Points
Rick McKee 02/11/13 - 12:28 pm
9
1
Guilty as charged

Lock me up now, I guess.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 02/11/13 - 12:47 pm
5
1
dunno about this. Where is

dunno about this. Where is the line between lampooning/satiring and disparaging and why is this an issue? If we are talking about a child, then that is a whole 'nuther ball of wax. But an adult who chose to be a public figure and paid by the public, should be scrutinized. If they can't manage their image or feel that they are unfairly portrayed, well I'm sorry. We need ditch-diggers too. I understand it's not helpful to be "photo-shopped", but comes with the territory. What happens next, we are going to censor your opponent in the election b/c they said you aren't doing a good job? Isn't that disparaging?

JPTrostle
10
Points
JPTrostle 02/11/13 - 03:41 pm
7
0
No law against stupid, apparently

Not only is Rep. Smith wrong on this, he's 25 years behind the curve — this was absolutely decided (8-0) by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1988:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hustler_Magazine_v._Falwell

If he wants to make himself useful, however, perhaps Mr. Smith can sponsor a bill requiring lawmakers actually know the law before they open their damn fool mouths.

specsta
6631
Points
specsta 02/11/13 - 04:13 pm
5
0
Waste of the People's Time

This legislator has no concept about current digital technology. Absolutely clueless. Yet he proposes to write a law making it a crime to superimpose one's head onto another body if that depiction has nudity or is "obscene".

Read the bill - the sponsors even attempt to define nudity as "obscene". There is no federal definition of obscenity, as there is a so-called three-part test (the Miller test) to help ascertain whether or not something is considered obscene. So this bill would take the bold step of actually defining obscenity, something no court has ever done. This bill will never hold up in any court nor will it pass the First Amendment protections.

http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20132014/HB/39

Perhaps sponsors of this bill never studied the case of Falwell v Hustler Magazine, in which SCOTUS delivered the following opinion (in part) - "The fact that society may find speech offensive is not a sufficient reason for suppressing it. Indeed, if it is the speaker's opinion that gives offense, that consequence is a reason for according it constitutional protection. For it is a central tenet of the First Amendment that the government must remain neutral in the marketplace of ideas."

The truth is this - digital manipulation of a public figure, such a pasting a person's head on a nude body, or even on a mule (a depiction which happened to George Washington), this technology is the new political cartoon.

Now, here's an interesting twist - with the proliferation of social networks, where many previously unknown folks obtain a following via Facebook or Twitter, they basically become a public figure - most certainly if that person is posting every minute detail of their life online to be scrutinized by hundreds, or even thousands of followers. By virtue of sharing such personal information to large numbers of people, it would seem that there would be little protection legally if someone decided to parody such an individual. So the SCOTUS ruling would seem applicable in such a case.

Face it, the digital and online age has completely changed the concept of privacy. Most folks don't even realize that a website can display completely false information posted by someone about you, and that website is protected via a federal law called the Communications Decency Act, which basically says that websites are not liable for the content posted on their websites by third parties.

Rep. Smith and the bill's co-sponsors are is basically trying to put air back into a popped balloon. It ain't gonna happen.

Now can we tackle unemployment, poverty, crime, education and other REAL ISSUES, please???

my.voice
4930
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my.voice 02/11/13 - 05:58 pm
2
0
This story needs some

This story needs some editing. Like maybe add some substance?

MarinerMan
2107
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MarinerMan 02/11/13 - 08:26 pm
4
0
DUMB
Unpublished

What stupid waste of legislative time and energy by two apparently extremely ignorant representatives. I really wanted to call them something else, but, you know.

Little Lamb
47263
Points
Little Lamb 02/12/13 - 08:59 am
2
1
Butt

From the story:

ATLANTA — An Augusta legislator has found himself the victim of the type of online photo manipulation that he is working to outlaw. Rep. Earnest Smith said Monday that he learned last week that someone had digitally pasted his head on the body of a nude man. That’s why he’s cosponsoring a bill that would make such manipulation a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine.

Rep. Smith may think of himself as a victim, but victim is too strong a word for the petty activity here. No, Rep. Smith is the butt of a joke, but he is not the victim of a crime.

It is dangerous to elect people such as Smith to the legislature. Anyone with that little regard for the Bill of Rights will vote to take away your liberty at every opportunity.

No, Rep. Ernest Smith is not a victim; instead he is a vicious oppressor of the people he represents.

itsanotherday1
45610
Points
itsanotherday1 02/12/13 - 09:26 am
3
1
Libel and/or slander laws can

Libel and/or slander laws can take care of any REAL rights infringement.

Do something useful Mr. Smith. I don't know you, but it is obvious your constituency is from the "low information" group if they elected you.

JRC2024
9430
Points
JRC2024 02/12/13 - 09:42 am
1
1
So he got his feeling hurt.

So he got his feeling hurt. Who cares. Get towork on more important issues such as the explosion of entitlement, crime, and such. Those are the important things and not how someone makes fun of you.

Little Lamb
47263
Points
Little Lamb 02/12/13 - 09:47 am
1
1
Low Information Group

You got that right in your last paragraph, IAD!

Little Lamb
47263
Points
Little Lamb 02/12/13 - 10:04 am
1
1
Contradiction

First, we get this statement from Walter Jones about Augusta's representative from District 125:

Rep. Earnest Smith said Monday that he learned last week that someone had digitally pasted his head on the body of a nude man. That’s why he’s cosponsoring a bill that would make such manipulation a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine.

Next, we get this statement from Walter Jones about political blogger Andre Walker:

“(Georgia Unfiltered) admits doctoring Rep. Smith’s picture to show the stupidity of his Photoshop bill,” Walker wrote in a text message.

Do you see it? Smith says he joined in and co-sponsored the bill because of the Photoshop joke; but Walker says he posted his Photoshop joke after Smith had already co-sponsored the bill. Which one is telling the truth? My money is on Walker.

If that's correct, we have to wonder what led Smith to be so interested in a bill fretting over nudity when there are so many more crucial issues facing Georgia these days?

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