Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Florida senator wants to ban photography of … farms

| »
Sen. Jim Norman (R-Tampa, FL)
Sen. Jim Norman (R-FL)

You’re driving around in rural Florida, navigating the quiet road along the tranquil countryside. Sun’s setting, spreading streaks of ruby and gold across the heavens. Hay bales bask in crimson or saffron, depending on the day’s weather, and you spot the occasional equine or bovine grazing lazily amongst the gently rolling hills. You determine this is a perfect photo opportunity, perhaps for a greeting card or some such. So, you pull over, whip out your trusty little camera, take aim, and click – another precious moment immortalized on film.

Then, you hear a short blast of sirens from behind you, making you nearly jump out of your skin. Johnny Law drives right up to you, gets out, and before you can even ask, bewildered, what’s going on, you are promptly informed that you’ve just broken the law and are going to jail.

No, that’s not an excerpt from some random book. It’s the reality that Sen. Jim Norman (R-Tampa) is trying to actualize, and if you thought the crime and penalty are insane, wait ’til you see the reasoning behind it all [original emphasis]:

SB 1246 by Sen. Jim Norman, R-Tampa, would make it a first-degree felony to photograph a farm without first obtaining written permission from the owner. A farm is defined as any land "cultivated for the purpose of agricultural production, the raising and breeding of domestic animals or the storage of a commodity."

Media law experts say the ban would violate freedoms protected in the U. S. Constitution. But Wilton Simpson, a farmer who lives in Norman's district, said the bill is needed to protect the property rights of farmers and the "intellectual property" involving farm operations.

Simpson, president of Simpson Farms near Dade City, said the law would prevent people from posing as farmworkers so that they can secretly film agricultural operations.

Yes … high-value targets, they are, those farms. The new Hot Thing on the black market. Pirates flocking everywhere for some quick shots of tractors and harvesters and chicken-strewn barnyards to make a killing in the dark, seedy belly of the agricultural underworld. I tell you, it’s the scourge of our times.

Really, some things really deserve absolutely nothing but mockery. It’s fairly certain that this almost hilariously stupid bill doesn’t have the slightest chance of passing the state legislature and being signed into law … but then again, with the new batch of Republicans everywhere these days, one can never really know just what sort of insane stunt the loony Right will pull off next.

(via The Agitator)