This Tennesee gal's thoughts on TN's new no-images-that-cause-emotional-stress law
In a brilliant move on the part of TN lawmakers a new law was recently passed here in the state that broadens the scope of an existing law regarding harassment. Whereas the already existing law made it an offense to harass others by purposely sending threatening, intimidating or explicit items or messages via emails or telephone, the new law now bans the posting of any online images that would possibly inflict emotional distress on another. By the hazy language of the new law anyone who is offended by any image found anywhere on the internet in any part of the entire world in this galaxy is a likely candidate for victim status.
As expected, the new law has brought a slew of negative reactions. Condemnation for our astute, hardworking lawmakers has been pouring in from people all over the state. These overpaid, er unappreciated, brilliant paid servants are now daily maligned with the resounding cry, "Unconstitutional!" Oh, what oafs their constituents are, how unappreciative and boorish. We dumb hicks just don't understand that First Amendment rights have no place in the high-tech age of Facebook, where any and every pervert on the planet can post emotionally distressing photos. Yes, I can attest that I personally witnessed the potential jeopardy of emotion and psyche by the most unthinkable photos imaginable. From cute dogs to cute cats, from photo albums from friends stocked with nothing but overwhelming examples of weddings, reunions, christenings, barbecues, anniversaries and countless, COUNTLESS images of children with gapped teeth smiles, buck teeth smiles, red hair (did I say red hair?), pimples and as GOD IS MY WITNESS even freckles!
And I know, in my heart of hearts, that someone, somewhere was grossed out by all these blatant images of domestic bliss and happiness, to the very point of nearly being forced against their will to hit the sign out button. The audacity. The nerve. The gross unethical accumulation of innocence. This should not be allowed, d*mm*t. (*warning, the asteriks you just saw were included for the lawful purpose of protecting society from viewing a dirty word -except the last one, which was put in to notify you of that fact, just in case you're reading this from one of those socially sensitive-deficient states).
Thus, protected in the full cushiony arms of TN's new nanny state legislation, I'm left with the question: where do I start reporting on incidences where I've been victimized? Hmm. I can't very well start with Facebook as I've uploaded my share of unseemly happy family images myself. And I I can't start with that celebrity I will refer to only as DUDE. Yeah, the guy who DM'ed me at Twitter with an invitation link to see nudey photos of his female friends. Nope, I was stupid enough to just ignore it (no, it wasn't Rep. Weiner, this happened before his plunge into infamy). But silly me. Instead of acting like a victim I acted like an adult and DELETED it.
But really, I didn't find that incidence distressing enough. So..hmm, where, precisely, does distressing haunt?
Oh, I know. Acai berries. I have a serious allergy to acai berries, and yet some people out there keep sending me emails talking about how I should try acai berries to lose weight. That's distressing. And hey, if I think about it in "victim" mode, the truth is I don't even need to lose weight. So this could conceivably be considered a double-distressing incidence, right?
Of course, there's the ole distressing chain-mail e-letters. You know, where someone sends you a story of how by sending out a gazillion of the same heartbreaking story -and UNDER five minutes- they were the recipient of a fabulous stroke of good luck? And how those who failed to forward the chain email had suffered misfortune - like the guy whose parrot pecked off his face, and how when the parrot failed to forward the email his mate pecked off his male-parrot organ-of consequence? I can tell you that it is exactly due to this DISTRESSING sort of chain-letters I have been literally too scared to go out and buy a $600 parrot. Well, this, and the fact I don't think a home with three cats is a suitable place for parrots.
Then there's those familiar emails from the poor souls in Nigeria who have evaded certain death by hiding away a fortune in an off-shore bank account Apparently these folks know I'm a friend -though for some reason they never address me by my real name- and they want to do a friendly exchange of data and make me a millionairess. Now, while I am empathetic to suffering, I find these emails DISTRESSFUL to see. And its not even so much they want my personal info; its their blatant disregard for, and mangling of, the English language that so distresses my intellect.
And there's also those disgusting online dating "services" that continue to plague my inbox, telling me some distinguished bachelor is interested in me joining. C'mon folks! There's only so many sexy Adonis guys in this world and they pick me? Wow, that kind of pressure is DISTRESSING. Especially when I consider if I choose to meet this guy he could have a cardiac arrest before he paid for our illicit rendezvous dinner. What a cruel, callous dose of responsibility that is to dump in a woman's lap!
And let us not forget those urgent, nerve-wracking donation plea emails from animal-friendly organizations. Not only do they say claim they desperately need my money to further organize their cause, but they just have to ruin my day by including the most horrific images of abused pets or species verging on the brink of extinction. Yep, yep, it rarely gets more distressing than this.
And dare I forget the most distressing images of all? The NEEDY people solicitations. Yes, for the price of a gallon of gas which might get my husband to work and back on a good day, we too can help feed children other couples brought into the world and know the satisfaction of making our children do without even more.
Ok, those images are distressing but I usually end up feeling sorry for the children in those photos anyway.
But the other solicitations aren't so easily swallowed. Help underprivileged girls get to school by providing sanitary napkins or new cars. Help Red Neck town to rebuild from the devastation caused by the flood of beer from the brewery accident. Help Reverend Luther "Sidewinder" Schultz-Ferguson rebuild his church and fortune by donating half your assets now to the Church of the Holy Good Times & Praise Be! of Chicago. Help little Dustin become an up & coming child star by paying for his braces and dimple-insertion surgery. Help little 25 year-old Katerina from Russia find a suitable American husband before she next ovulates. Help a celebrity to relearn how to dress themselves in a manner suitable to their age and not distressing to your fundamental sense of good taste.
Yes, the new law has turned the world into a virtual oyster bed of potential get-back-at-em pearls for we Tennesseans. Do I use this opportunity to take revenge on all the pushy, thoughtless people who have sent me unwanted, unasked for images over the years? Or do I act like an adult and continue to do what I've always done and simply delete or ignore what I find offensive? I think I'll go with door #2 and remember the Governor and other lawmakers who passed this ridiculous law come next election.