Tennessee Just Made Offensive Online Pictures Illegal

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Goatse. Tub Girl. Lemonparty. They're in the internet pantheon—and sharing them (or anything else that might shock or offend) will now land you in Tennessean jail, thanks to dubious new law of theirs. The war on JPEGs begins.

The law prohibits the online distribution of any image that might "frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress" to someone who sees it. Which, really, could be virtually anything. Beyond the obvious fecal-scattering, decapitation, and other horrific things that spill forth from the internet cornucopia of perversion, the law is broad enough to affect lots of benign images. A picture of a spooky ghost? That could frighten someone! A photo of your friend's ex? Your friend could send you to jail for it! The fact that an online image of anything that offends anyone is now illegal sounds highly contrary to our 1st Amendment superpowers. Ars quotes one scholar who agrees: "Pretty clearly unconstitutional," is his verdict.

The internet is never going to be sterile. It will never be inoffensive. The internet thrives on the perverse, the grotesque, and the radical. It's part of what makes it so exciting and wonderful. The filth is fertile. Don't stop us from planting shit blossoms, Tennessee state legislature; not only is it probably illegal, but our disgusting JPEGs and GIFs are our birthright. [State of Tennessee via Volokh via Ars]


Photo: Shutterstock/Laurin Rinder