We were in the midst of chasing down another lead when we stumbled upon a particularly troubling section of South Carolina’s code of laws – one which gives state government wide latitude to infringe upon our individual liberties.
In fact this “unlawful communication” law basically grants government the power to determine which of our cell phone communications it deems appropriate (and which ones it doesn’t) – effectively turning state and local law enforcement into the morality police.
Take a look …
SECTION 16-17-430. Unlawful communication.
(A) It is unlawful for a person to:
(1) use in a telephonic communication or any other electronic means, any words or language of a profane, vulgar, lewd, lascivious, or an indecent nature, or to communicate or convey by telephonic or other electronic means an obscene, vulgar, indecent, profane, suggestive, or immoral message to another person;
Note this statute makes no mention of whether the “profane, vulgar, lewd, lascivious” or “indecent” messages were solicited … it just outlaws them. Oh, and prescribes the following punishment …
(B) A person who violates any provision of subsection (A) is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than one hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days.
In other words, if you send your wife a text message informing her of your desire to insert your penis into her vagina later that day (or exchange photographs via text to that effect) you can be thrown in jail for up to a month.
Obviously South Carolinians have a right not to be bombarded by unsolicited messages (obscene or otherwise), but banning specific cellular communications between consenting adults based on the government’s definition of “obscene, vulgar, indecent, profane, suggestive or immoral” isn’t just ridiculous – it’s a violation of our First Amendment rights.
What do you think of this statute? Vote in our poll and post your thoughts in our comments section below …