Attorney General Greg Abbott and Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, want “sexting” — sending or receiving pornographic images via cell phones — to be a criminal offense for teenagers. Watson filed a bill last week that would making sexting illegal and require schools to educate children about the social and legal repercussions of their actions.
“Prior to this proposed bill prosecutors really only had two options for dealing with young people, teens who engaged in sexting,” Watson said. “They could either prosecute them under our very strict adult pornography laws or do nothing.”
Sen. Watson… not for nothing, but you’re one hell of a drag. What’s next? Criminalizing the game ‘Doctor’? This, honestly, is sooooo stupid it makes me kind of mad at you. At least you aren’t the one with the money quote.
Abbott says there haven’t been any prosecutions in Texas for sexting — but 20 percent of girls say they’ve sent sexually explicit pictures of themselves to others on their cell phones. Making sexting a distinct offense for minors will give teenagers the opportunity to expunge their records so they can apply to college without the stigma of a criminal felony, Abbott said. They also won’t be added to the state’s sex offender registry.
Really Abbott? 20%? Prove it. I want see the stat and it’s source.
The best part about this is that as Watson and the rest of the Lege of Doom cut funding from education, schools will now be required to educate the kids about sexting and what could happen to them if they send a pic of their privates to someone dull, entirely too serious, very full of themselves and boring. Kind of like what we’re sure Abbott and Watson were like as younger versions of themselves (they were never children, apparently).
Oh, but parents, don’t you breathe a sigh of relief and think this is all the responsibility of the schools. Sen. Watson has something for you as well…
Under the proposed legislation, teens caught “sexting” could face up to a Class A Misdemeanor. Parents could also face penalties. A judge could require both a parent and their teenager to attend educational activities and pay for the classes.
“Here’s the message to parents — pay attention to this new technology,” Watson said. “Pay attention to your kids. Know what it is they’re doing with regard to text messages, sending images and that sort of thing, and take the time to talk to them.”
New technology? SMS has been around since the 80s, Senator. But I can agree, parents should be far more involved with their children. It’s nice you’ve found a way to legislate that and Abbott has found a way to throw kids in prison…
The law also provides an out for the “innocent recipients of these sexual images,” Abbott said. If a teenager turns images over to authorities within 48 hours of receiving them, he or she will have an affirmative defense against prosecution. Abbott says this provision protects teenagers, because it is currently a felony to possess such images.
“This is done by people at such a young age [that] they really don’t understand the consequences of what they’re doing,” Abbott said. He said it’s important that a young person who makes a stupid mistake isn’t stuck with a “criminal conviction that could put them behind bars.”
Except that no such case has been tried yet so it’s hardly a problem. But, since we’re talking hypothetically, how about this one…
So a boy gets a pic, unsolicited, of some girls cooter and HE’S responsible for ratting her out? And you’re not even giving them a get out of jail free card for doing it, but just an affirmative defense that will mean nothing in a trial? Especially when a prosecutor, looking to make a name for himself, decides to prosecute to the maximum extent of the law and describes the case as a ‘child pornography scandal’? But I’m sure the judge will do something to help except that we elect our judges in Texas and if they don’t throw the book at some poor kid, his opponent in the next election will, no doubt, run ad after ad talking about how he’s ‘soft on child pornographers’.
Kirk, seriously, don’t be an asshole. Think this through a little more and pull it back.
UPDATE : As a reader pointed out, a kid with a lot of twitter followers could make life very miserable for all of them and for the police and courts who’d have to deal with the mess.