Daily Archives: March 6, 2013

Senate bill aims at paparazzi, hits First Amendment instead

Imagine that. Just when you begin to wonder whether elected officials can get anything meaningful done, the State Senate proved it could by overwhelmingly passing Senate Bill 465, the so-called “Steven Tyler Act,” intended to protect real or imagined celebrities from harassment by gangs of roaming paparazzi.

This is the bill a NY Times editorial called “an earnest but boneheaded measure.” It is, unfortunately, getting lots of national media attention, not necessarily positive.

But perhaps we can salvage something from the situation by using it as an example of the valid use of “gut & replace.”

The House should strip the existing language from the bill and replace it with a different provision, something along these lines–“It shall be unlawful for Steven Tyler to appear without a shirt in any public place, or in a location visible from any public place with or without any visual enhancing device.”

Seriously, though, the bill was opposed by the Motion Picture Association of America, which argued that it violates both the First Amendment and the Hawaii State Constitution. A freelance photographer on the Big Island wrote in testimony submitted to the Senate: “Don’t make photography a crime in Hawaii.”

And Attorney General David Louie made another key point: “There is no evidence to suggest that celebrities are deterred from buying property or vacationing in Hawaii because of photographs being taken of them. Celebrities are photographed wherever they go and it is a consequence of their celebrity status.”

Thanks to Senators Les Ihara and Sam Slom for having the good sense to vote “no” on this bill.