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Is ‘Revenge Porn’ Protected Free Speech?

by Countable | Updated on 12.13.18

What’s the story?

  • The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals will decide whether “revenge porn” should be punishable by law in the Lone Star State.
  • “Revenge porn” is sharing sexually explicit images or videos of a person without their consent, typically by a former partner.
  • 40 states and Washington D.C. currently have revenge porn laws.

What is the legal challenge in Texas?

  • Three years ago, Texas passed – with rare bipartisan support – a bill that criminalized revenge porn. But a state appeals court ruled in April that the law was unconstitutional, writing:
“It violates rights of too many third parties by restricting more speech than the [U.S.] Constitution permits.”

What are both sides saying?

  • Congresswoman-elect Sylvia Garcia (D), who authored the bill as a state senator, defended its importance:
“The law is about a horrific practice that is about victimization, not speech,” Garcia said. “The law was crafted carefully to focus on only the worst and verifiable behavior that sexually defames its victims.”
  • Attorney Mark Bennett, who is defending a man charged with violating the law after posting a nude photo of an ex, said the statue is a clear violation of free speech rights.
“We engage in lots of harmful speech, and it’s constitutionally protected,” Bennett said. “If a statute restricts a real and substantial amount of protected speech, then it’s void.”
  • The Office of the State Prosecuting Attorney, which is defending the law, disagrees.
  • “There is no ‘core political speech’ at risk here. Common sense dictates that the conduct prohibited by the statute — violations of privacy of the most intimate kind — is not necessary or even helpful to a vibrant democracy,” said John Messinger, an attorney for the state.
“The Legislature determined that ‘revenge porn’ and the like leads to emotional trauma, threats of violence, and even suicide, and it passed a law to comprehensively address this serious problem. By any standard, the statute is a constitutional act of representative democracy.”

What do you think?

Is revenge porn protected free speech? Take action above, then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / scyther5)

Countable

Written by Countable

Leave a comment
(228)
  • danaturner1987
    Voted No
    12/14/2018
    ···

    No. As a libertarian, I do support the freedom of speech and the civil responsibility of when an individual decides to express their mind. I don't, however, support the disrespectful and harassing use of revenge porn of any sort. Revenge porn is not freedom of speech. Revenge porn is harassment.

    Like (52)
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  • Donna
    12/13/2018
    ···

    NO, no one has the RIGHT to put anyone else’s NAKED BODY on DISPLAY! It’s a crime and should be tried asbpornography!

    Like (43)
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  • Tim
    Voted Yes
    12/13/2018
    ···

    Like “hate speech” it may not be right, but it’s still legal.

    Like (7)
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  • Paige
    Voted Maybe
    12/14/2018
    ···

    it’s not that big of a deal. if you don’t want your pics exposed, don’t even send em.

    Like (2)
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  • SneakyPete
    Voted No
    12/13/2018
    ···

    No Way Is “Revenge Porn” Protected Speech & It Should Be Punished I’m all for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals deciding that “Revenge Porn” should be punishable by law in the Lone Star State. ‘Revenge Porn” is defined as the sharing of sexually explicit images or videos of a person without their consent, typically by a former partner. 40 states and Washington D.C. currently have revenge porn laws and Texas should Join the group. SneakyPete..... 👍🏻🕵️‍♀️👨‍⚖️👩‍⚖️👍🏻. 12*13*18.....

    Like (38)
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  • Denise
    12/14/2018
    ···

    Why is this even being asked?! What is wrong with our country that this question even needs to be brought up?!

    Like (23)
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  • John
    Voted Yes
    12/14/2018
    ···

    I think we need to ban pole dancing at strip clubs. Gotta go...I'm late for lunch at Hooters.

    Like (3)
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  • James
    Voted Maybe
    12/14/2018
    ···

    I want to say that revenge porn should not be allowed. However I am compelled to think of it as free speech. The agreements I see here are not persuasive. One person says revenge porn is bad because porn is bad; this is legally not true. Porn has absolutely been protected free speech. Another person says it is defamation; truth is an absolute defense against charges of defamation. If what you say is true, then you cannot be charged with slander or libel or defamation. If someone takes pictures of you in private without your consent that is an invasion of privacy, but if they were taken with your consent, is publishing them without your consent a crime?

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  • Lionman
    Voted No
    12/13/2018
    ···

    This seems pretty straightforward. Without consent, it’s simply not acceptable.

    Like (23)
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  • Jeanna
    Voted No
    12/13/2018
    ···

    Porn is porn, no matter what is said or done! It is WRONG!! (end of statement!) This type of revenge is in NO WAY acceptable, any more than destroying or taking one’s property or causing bodily harm, in an attempt to seek revenge. Our laws are or should be laws that protect us, and posting porn material of anyone with no consent from that person, is clearly a personal and damaging violation of that victim, and should be prosecuted as a crime against that victim! Come on people, this should be a common sense law!!!

    Like (18)
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  • Lucy
    Voted No
    12/13/2018
    ···

    Freedom of speech does not include the right to destroy another person’s reputation or life. Revenge porn is just another form of harassment.

    Like (17)
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  • Mark
    Voted No
    12/14/2018
    ···

    Um, no.

    Like (16)
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  • Jeffrey
    Voted No
    12/13/2018
    ···

    This is like saying rape or sexual harassment is protected under free speech...if you put a sex tape online as revenge over someone breaking up with you then you should be charged to the fullest extent of the law and just like video voyeurs have to register as a SO...it’s crazy to me the questions that are being asked today when as little as 5-10 years ago it would be considered crazy to ask. is this really where we’re heading?

    Like (13)
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  • Catherine
    Voted No
    12/13/2018
    ···

    This type of thing is directly aimed at harming another person. That isn't a right.

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  • Sara
    Voted No
    12/14/2018
    ···

    why is this even a question? revenge porn is a an extreme violation of an individuals right to privacy and is 100% a sex crime. revenge porn is dangerous and in many cases, subjects the victim to humiliation and harassment.

    Like (13)
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  • Nicolas
    Voted No
    12/14/2018
    ···

    Posting footage or pictures of that kind should be considered sexual harassment, especially if it was done with the intent to harm the victim.

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  • John
    Voted No
    12/13/2018
    ···

    It is a violation of a person’s privacy.

    Like (12)
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  • 12yanogden
    Voted No
    12/13/2018
    ···

    Revenge porn is an abuse of rights. Shame on anyone who stands up for maliciousness or hate

    Like (12)
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  • Tai
    Voted No
    12/14/2018
    ···

    There is absolutely no way revenge porn is free speech. It’s disgusting and humiliating for the people involved and anyone accused of making revenge porn should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    Like (12)
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  • J. scott
    Voted No
    12/13/2018
    ···

    No, any association with this as free speech is nonsense. It’s a crime period.

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  • Lexpost
    Voted No
    12/13/2018
    ···

    I am generally an advocate for freedom of speech for flesh and blood people. I also believe that no right is absolute. I believe in a right to privacy. Where rights conflict, one must give way. Revenge porn is not an addition to the marketplace of ideas, but is simply a childish expression of hurt and rage when someone doesn’t get what they want, to tear someone down to in a futile attempt to build themselves up.

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  • Dawn
    Voted No
    12/13/2018
    ···

    “Revenge porn” is sharing sexually explicit images or videos of a person without their consent, typically by a former partner. The key phrase in the above definition is “WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT.” Add that to the definition of revenge: the act of inflicting hurt or harm on someone for a perceived injury or wrong suffered at their hands. The intent of REVENGE porn is to cause hurt or harm. It should absolutely be a crime, punishable similar to sexual assault.

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  • TrulyTexan
    Voted No
    12/13/2018
    ···

    Absolutely not.

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  • Scott
    Voted No
    12/14/2018
    ···

    Revenge porn is intended to harass and defame. It’s violating and doesn’t respect reasonable expectations of privacy and discretion. The fact this is in dispute boggles the mind.

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