Senate passes "Girls Gone Wild" bill despite legal concerns - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Senate passes "Girls Gone Wild" bill despite legal concerns

By BETH RUCKER
Associated Press Writer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A bill to ban advertisements for "Girls Gone Wild" or similar products is dead in the House and constitutionally suspect.

But that didn't stop the Senate from passing the measure unanimously on Wednesday. Sen. Doug Jackson, D-Dickson, said he sponsored the bill because he objects to commercials promoting "the sale of an obscene product through our television sets into our living room."

Jackson has cited as examples partially censored advertisements for "Girls Gone Wild" videos that show young women baring their breasts and acting out other sexual situations. "Obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment," Jackson said.

An opinion released Wednesday by Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper says the measure may not be constitutional because it doesn't include a "safe-harbor" provision which allows the broadcasting of indecent material during hours when minors are unlikely to be watching television.

The opinion also says that federal regulations generally trump state law regarding public or private television broadcasts. Jackson did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment on the opinion.

The Senate voted 31-0 to pass the measure even though the companion bill died in a House subcommittee last month when it received no support from members of either party. Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Tennessee, said the bill was too broad and that little regard was being shown for the First Amendment. "The control remains with the individual," she said.

"The message should be turn off the TV if you find these advertisements offensive. You can't assume your tastes dictate what others think."

Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle, of Memphis, said he was unaware of the attorney general's opinion. "I would like to have read the opinion before voting on the bill," Kyle said. "But there was a lot of what Sen. Jackson said that I agreed with."

Jackson said he will work to get the House version passed next year in the second session of the 105th General Assembly. "I think we can get this bill through the House," he said. "The Senate has the opportunity to take the lead."

 

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