I always cringe when Massachusetts hastily passes a new law in reaction to a high profile event, such as the exceedingly good intentioned Domestic Abuse Law in response to Jared Remy murdering his girlfriend that now, unfortunately, forbids police was releasing names of perps arrested for domestic abuse.
Or the recent "upskirt" law criminalizing peeping toms who take surreptitious photos of women in public places.
According to the Governor's press release: "The legislation makes the secret photographing, videotaping, or electronically surveiling of another person's sexual or other intimate parts, whether under or around a person's clothing or when a reasonable person would believe that the person's intimate parts would not be visible to the public, a crime."
Okay fair enough, no arguments there.
But I now wonder if that is the fledgling law UMass administrators are using to bully a freshman for tweeting a picture of a couple -- clearly anonymous, without "intimate parts" showing -- having sex in state subsidized housing on the campus of a state subsidized flagship of higher education?
Amherst College can do pretty much whatever they want in relation to the First Amendment because it doesn't apply to them, since they are not a "government" institution. UMass/Amherst is, however, a state funded institution -- so the First Amendment clearly does apply.
Arguably our single most valuable freedom enjoyed as Americans.
If the young student who innocently tweeted that image-shattering photo (My God, 18 year old students actually have sex on a Thursday afternoon!) had instead published a photo of white Ferguson police officers combating black protesters, UMass Office of News & Media Relations would fall all over themselves championing her for standing up to authority.
Yes of course the First Amendment can indeed be, um, messy -- especially in this instantly publish Internet age.
Westboro Baptist Church @ UMass 4/16/14
I don't like the racist, homophobic signs carried by the attention seeking Westboro Baptist Church any more than you do. But suppressing their rights today based on content, only means tomorrow it could be your message banned.
Fuck the censorship!