Texas follows Senate, passes law criminalizing ‘revenge porn’

By Diamond Victoria

Managing Editor

 

Face it: Romance has changed.

Gone are the days of playful courtship and innocent flirting – for the most part, anyway. Welcome to the generation of indiscretion, where no one was too shocked when the term “revenge porn” made its way into the media circuit.

But don’t start deleting your salacious selfies just yet. One of Texas’ newest laws, Senate Bill 1135, has officially made the act illegal.

I was already aware that some self-righteous schmucks decide to share compromising photos of their former flings online as an act of revenge. Individuals are so often willingly snapping these images on their smartphones and tablets to amuse their partners.

I’m not saying the latter is necessarily a concern; after all, it’s their right to do as they please as long as they aren’t harming anyone.

But let’s talk about the shaming of an individual once a relationship turns sour. According to the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, 90 percent of all victims of revenge porn are women. And some argue that, though not directly physical, this is still a form of sexual assault.

The Texas Association Against Sexual Assault said this sort of violence can contribute to depression, panic attacks, problems at work and thoughts of suicide.

Until this month, this sort of revenge was perfectly legal in Texas, thanks in part to the freedom of speech clause within the First Amendment. This clause states that the only illegal pornography is any involving an individual under the age of 18.

The American Civil Liberties Union expressed concern over the idea of criminalizing both sides playing the two major roles in revenge porn (the website hosting the images and the individual uploading them), calling it a delicate issue between “protection of privacy and free speech rights,” according to breitbart.com.

Though I am reluctant to admit it, the argument is valid. The ACLU is only stating facts that are clear and present within the confines of the freedom of speech clause within the First Amendment. Perhaps the clause needs revising.

There are some who think this law is unconstitutional: namely, Mark Bennett, vice president of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association.

“This statute creates an unconstitutional content-based restriction of speech,” Bennett said in an interview with the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

SB 1135 states anyone who promotes certain intimate material, creating an offense, is subject to committing a Class A misdemeanor. Anyone committing these acts will be subject to up to one year in jail and/or a maximum fine of $4,000, and victims can sue offenders in civil court for monetary compensation according to breitbart.com.

Those seem like fair penalties, though the victim’s embarrassment lasts much longer than a year.

Last year, a Tarrant County man received five years probation, psychological counseling and a $500 fine for hacking into his former partner’s email account and sending secretly recorded footage of her during sexual acts to her family and professional contacts. However, this wasn’t technically considered illegal at the time.

Laws will, or should, progress as times change. But the fact that we have only now joined the mere 13 other states outlawing revenge porn is a little scary. So, unless you want to run the risk of becoming an overnight porn star, think before clicking “send.”