Tennessee Outlaws Sharing of Images That Might Upset People

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Just a week after passing a law that made it illegal to share passwords to subscription entertainment sites, the state of Tennessee has taken the lead in addressing pressing legal matters again by outlawing the transmission of any image that may upset… well, anyone, really.

The law, passed on Friday, makes it an offense to “communicate with another person or transmit or display an image in a manner in which there is reasonable expectation that the image will be viewed by the victim… with the malicious intent to frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress or in a manner the defendant knows, or reasonably should know, would frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress to a similarly situated person of reasonable sensibilities.” Which, yes, makes anyone who posts a picture that they know could conceivably cause “emotional distress” to someone on their Facebook page, say, open to prosecution.

On the one hand, I’m in favor of people not causing distress to others. On the other, I’m not sure that “Don’t be a jerk” ever really needed to become an actual law. Isn’t this pretty much a massive contradiction of that whole Right to Free Speech thing?

And there’s something particularly unsettling about the vagueness of it applying to “a similarly situated person of reasonable sensibilities,” as well as the defense that such images may be allowed with “legitimate purpose.” Who gets to define what is legitimate remains, of course, open to question.

One thing is for sure, however: Stay out of Tennessee if you’re at all concerned about accidentally breaking the law while being online.

More on TIME.com:

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