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Posted by on Feb 15, 2013 in Law, Media, Politics, Science & Technology, Society | 2 comments

The First Amendment can be Sooooo Annoying (Guest Voice)

Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle

That First Amendment can be Soooooo Annoying
by Daryl Cagle

I syndicate the cartoons of Rick McKee, the brilliant, conservative cartoonist from The Augusta Chronicle, to newspapers around the world. Today Rick sent in a cartoon about a local Georgia legislator that was so nutty, I asked him to explain. Rick writes:

“Sticks and stones may break my bones” and apparently, Internet Photoshops can really get under the thin skin of Georgia State Rep. Earnest Smith, D-Augusta. Recently he became upset, to say the least, over a manipulated photo in which a blogger digitally pasted his head onto somebody else’s very naked body.

So, he’s co-sponsoring a bill that would make it illegal to alter a photograph so that it “causes an unknowing person wrongfully to be identified as the person in an obscene depiction.” I understand where he’s coming from. Nobody wants their head stuck on an obscene image. Problem is, it’s perfectly legal and protected by the Constitution under the First Amendment. You’d think a guy in his position would know this.

Of course, he’s brought the wrath of the Internet down upon him. Bloggers and forums are trying to outdo one another with lewd images featuring the noggin of Rep. Smith.

But then Smith goes further and says, “No one has a right to make fun of anyone. It’s not a First Amendment right.”

Wow. This is truly embarrassing coming from an elected official. If that’s true, then as a political cartoonist I am breaking the law every day. Go ahead and lock me up. Jon Stewart and David Letterman can be my cellmates.

Perhaps, in the future, our elected officials should be required to take a basic middle school-level civics class. Or, at the least, we could include a disclaimer in their job description, “Warning: This occupation may be a hazard to those with thin skins!”

Daryl Cagle runs the newspaper syndicate distributing editorial cartoons to more than 850 newspapers around the world including the paper you are reading now; he is a past president of the National Cartoonists Society. Comments to Daryl may be sent to [email protected] Read Daryl’s blog at

LEGAL NOTICE ON CARTOON: This copyrighted cartoon is licensed to run on TMV. Reproduction elsewhere without licensing is strictly prohibited. See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at To license this cartoon for your own site, visit

  • slamfu

    Wow, I am actually surprised to find that this guy is a democrat. I thought the GOP had cornered the market on stupidity like this but I guess they left a little bit for this guy. Sending this idiot back to 7th grade civics class is an excellent idea.

    Also PR 101. He has assured at least a weeks worth of internet folks with time on their hands doing nothing but pasting his head and face on obscene images and posting it to the web .

  • petew

    We can all sympathize with the kind of character assassination aimed at the Congressman but, in order for the 1st amendment to work, at times it must inherently be annoying.

    The ACLU came to the aid of the Westboro Baptist Church members who picketed near the area where a soldier was being put to rest. They held horrible signs saying things like, “Thank God for Dead soldiers,” and thank God for dead Gays.” This kind of self-righteous travesty was all the more bizarre since the soldier being buried was not even gay!

    However the ACLU defended Church members (even though stating that they had to hold their noses to do so) because the place they were picketing and the physically non-violent way it was done, were not in any way illegal. It was another case of preventing the “First they came for the socialists and I was not socialist so…..”type of mentality.

    Freedom is truly not easy or free, and even those who do the most extreme things must be kept from prosecution if their acts conform with the law. This has to be done in order to avoid subtle censorship and/or denial of questionable ideological driven actions which, if ignored, can undermine Democracy for all of us.

    I have nothing but sympathy for the Congressman, but unfortunately he doesn’t have any legal grounds to stand on! Can I say that those who maligned him, are nothing but jack asses? After all,it IS my right to do so!

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