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15 February 2013

And the Last Word on the Photoshop Bill Goes to Earnest Smith's Hometown Paper

Ten days ago, I published an altered image of state Representative Earnest Smith (D - Augusta) to express my opposition to House Bill 39.

House Bill 39, co-sponsored by Rep. Smith, would make it a crime to electronically impose the facial image of a person onto an obscene depiction; with "obscene depiction" being defined as "a visual depiction of an individual displaying nudity or sexual conduct."

Little did I know that Photoshop-ed image of Earnest Smith would go viral and create an internet firestorm. Over the past ten days, news organizations such as Fox News, ABC News and the (London) Daily Mail have all run articles spotlighting House Bill 39 and the blog post on this site that started it all.

Creative individuals across the world wide web concocted their own altered images of Representative Earnest Smith. Google "Earnest Smith" and "Photoshop" to get a large sample of the best (or worst, depending on the person asked) Photoshop-ed pictures of Rep. Smith.

This story, for ten days, took a life of its own. And now, the hometown newspaper of Democrat Earnest Smith is offering its opinion on their editorial pages.

In a piece titled He doesn't get the picture, the Augusta Chronicle Editorial Board writes:

A lot of folks are now altering photographs of Augusta state Rep. Earnest Smith to make him look silly.

But nothing can compare to how he’s making himself look.

In supporting a fellow Democrat’s bill banning the “obscene” Photoshopping of a picture of someone else, which might be done to mock or tease someone or just have fun, Rep. Smith had this to say:

“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.”
This is a lawmaker, folks.

It’s hard to believe, even in a state that gave rise to U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson – who once worried the island of Guam might tip over – that an American citizen would be so ignorant of our rights. It’s mind-boggling to think that people who help write our laws are that out to lunch.

Must we? Really? Must we refute the representative’s asinine assertion?

For ten days now, the internet had to collectively refute Representative Earnest Smith's assertion that, "No one has a right to make fun of anyone." And much like the Augusta Chronicle Editorial Board, I'm incredulous that it had to be done in the first place. Still, some people must learn the hard way. Rep. Earnest Smith apparently is one of them.

And that, my friends, is the last word.