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States Look to Ban 'Revenge Porn'

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By Michael Gryboski, Christian Post Reporter
December 4, 2013|12:18 pm

A bill has been proposed in the lower house of the Virginia General Assembly that would crack down on a practice known as "revenge porn."

Revenge porn is commonly understood to be the posting of nude or pornographic images of a person without their knowledge or consent in order to humiliate them. The action is typically done as a form of vengence against a former spouse or partner.

House Bill 49 was pre-filed Tuesday and set to be offered in January before the House of Delegates. If enacted, it will make "revenge porn" a Class 1 Misdemeanor.

"It is unlawful for any person, with the intent to cause substantial emotional distress to the depicted person, to disseminate or sell any videotape, photograph, film, or other videographic or still image created by any means, or any reproduction of such videotape, photograph, film, or image, that depicts another person who is totally nude, in a state of undress so as to expose the genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or female breast, or engaged in sexual conduct," reads the proposed HB 49 in part.

Patrick A. Trueman, president and CEO of the anti-pornography group Morality in Media, told The Christian Post that he and his organization "like the legislation."

"No one should be allowed to distribute nudity without the consent of the person depicted," said Trueman, who explained the difference between "revenge porn" and regular pornography.

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"Revenge porn is different than other pornography in that consent to distribute is not given nor implied with such material, as it is with those who pose for pornography where the understanding, implied or contractual, is that the material will be made available to the public."

H.B. 49 was introduced by Democratic Delegate-elect Marcus Simon, who was elected last month and will be replacing retiring Del. Jim Scott.

Simon's bill bears a resemblance to legislation being proposed elsewhere in the country at the state level. Legislatures in Maryland, Florida, Wisconsin, New York and Texas are considering similar measures.

Support in the Commonwealth for H.B. 49 is not universal. Marc Montoni, secretary for the Libertarian Party of Virginia, told The Christian Post that he had many issues with the bill.

"The most obvious problem with a law like this is that it is too broad. Although it is advertised and 'intended' to address 'revenge porn', the language doesn't really distinguish what is or isn't 'revenge porn'," said Montoni.

"But on a more basic level, it interferes with freedom of speech… individuals should be free to make choices for themselves and to accept responsibility for the consequences of the choices they make."

Montoni also told CP that he felt government should "assume people are adults and allow them to learn from their mistakes and otherwise take responsibility for their own behavior."

"There are ways to minimize the problem. Government can mediate disputes over images by fairly enforcing and arbitrating contracts, when private mediators and arbitrators cannot bring the parties in a dispute to a resolution," said Montoni.

"Nonprofit groups and educators can help by teaching youth on the possible consequences of sending graphic photos of themselves to friends."

When asked by CP about the allegation that H.B. 49 and similar measures interfere with free speech, Trueman of Morality in Media replied that the "First Amendment does not protect all speech."

"That is why we have laws prohibiting slander, libel, obscenity, etc. The U. S. concept of rights is one of 'ordered liberty.' We all have rights but in the exercise of those rights we cannot violate the greater rights of another," said Trueman.

 

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