The following video, from yesterday’s Senate Judiciary Committee, shows the debate over Del. Kelly Fowler’s HB2254, a bill which “[p]rovides that any person who, with the intent to coerce, harass, or intimidate, disseminates to any person 18 years of age or older any unsolicited, obscene videographic or still image created by any means whatsoever that depicts himself totally nude, or in a state of undress so as to expose his own genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or female breast is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.”
Note that the bill passed the House of Delegates 99-0, so it wasn’t at all controversial. And yet, when it got to the Senate Judiciary Committee, all of a sudden supposed problems (1st amendment, etc.) with the bill were raised by several male members – including Joe Morrissey (yes, this guy) – of the committee. As Virginia Mercury reported:
Echoing a concern raised by a legislative staffer who suggested the ban could potentially apply to art that features exposed body parts, Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, wondered aloud whether the ban might extend to images of Michelangelo’s “David.”
Sen. Joe Morrissey, D-Richmond, seemed particularly alarmed by its ramifications.
“To say that this bill has First Amendment limitations is the understatement of this session,” Morrissey said. “Whatever the laudable intent is here, it is a bad bill that has Herculean constitutional problems.”
During the hearing, Convirs-Fowler pointed out that it was mostly men speaking. All eight votes against it were cast by men.
For the record, here’s the vote. Also, to quote a clearly – and justifiably – exasperated Del. Kelly Fowler:
“The First Amendment issue, I have been told by counsel that being obscene takes away that issue. Also, the consent…everybody’s ‘what if’ comes down to what if this happens with a statue with art? Right now, in person if it happens…we make it illegal in person…We have to try something…something’s gotta work, and to not address this issue is very – for someone with three daughters, and I’ve only heard men address this in committee – I don’t feel like this is getting a fair hearing and this is a huge problem.”