Saturday, February 12, 2011

Texas proposes some good sense on dealing with “sexting”

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Finally, a sign of sanity in the dangerous hysteria surrounding “sexting” – and from the Lone Star State, to boot:

Bucking a trend seen in other states, Texas lawmakers are taking steps to separate teen “sexting,” the sending and receiving sexually explicit photos via cell phone or email, from child pornography.

A bill proposed by State Sen. Kirk Watson of Austin, and backed by Texas State Attorney General Greg Abbott, would classify sexting as a Class C misdemeanor for first time violators under 18. Under current law, sexting is a Class C felony carrying penalties of two to 10 years in prison, a fine up to $10,000 and lifelong registration as a sex offender.

The Lone Star State deserves credit for taking a sensible approach to addressing what is without doubt stupid behavior that comes with serious consequences, but is far from the predation that child pornography laws are intended to target.

As the Houston Chronicle reports, instead of sending young people to jail for sexting, the bill, SB 407, would authorize judges to sentence minors — and one of the minor’s parents — to participate in an education program about sexting’s consequences.

The new law also would allow teens to apply to the court to have the offense expunged from their records.

Personally, I’d prefer it if the government just removed its nose from the issue altogether, but this is certainly a welcome start. You have to know that something’s gone terribly awry within the criminal justice system when minors are being charged with child-fucking-pornography simply by deliberately taking pictures of themselves and sending them to people of their own choosing. For fuck’s sake, that is no more child porn than masturbating is self-rape. Those who support that sort of absolutist, black-and-white view of law and morality are simply devoid of any shred of common sense and are quantitatively unfit to hold any sort of public office.

Remember: Sexting doesn’t destroy kids’ lives. It’s what overzealous adults do to them when they catch them that does.

(via The Agitator)