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Thread: Boy Charged For Desecration Of Jesus Statue

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    Re: Boy Charged For Desecration Of Jesus Statue

    Quote Originally Posted by Hard Truth View Post
    Since the Supreme Court struck down the flag desecration laws, it would be very unlikely to uphold a desecration law concerning an object that has no official special status.
    I would certainly hope so.

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    Re: Boy Charged For Desecration Of Jesus Statue

    Quote Originally Posted by Hard Truth View Post
    The crime was doing something offensive (desecration). No one was there at the time the picture was taken to be offended. The charge was filed after the picture was seen on-line. So the offense was created by the picture, not the act. The Supreme Court has already struck down desecration laws as contrary to the first amendment. There is no right to be protected from offense in the US constitution. (although the courts have wrongly supported some laws that protect people from being offended, such as broadcast indecency laws)
    If a security camera takes a picture of someone trespassing and no one is there to see the trespass at the time does that mean that the offense is created by the picture? No. A picture of a crime is not the crime itself, it is the evidence. As noted multiple times, had this person posted a photo of themselves with their own statue or even did a photo shop (i.e. did nothing with the real object other than photograph it) there would be no desecration. Please provide a link to the case where SCOTUS struck down desecration laws as a whole. While I may be wrong, I'm willing to bet that they struck down laws that were religious specific.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hard Truth View Post
    Read the law. It is clearly unconstitutional.
    I will agree with you that if a specific desecration law, even the one applied in this specific case, is religious object specific (i.e. it applies only to religious objects) then indeed that would be unconstitutional. But since desecration can happen to non-religious objects as well, there is nothing unconstitutional about them, in general. Now whether or not we should bother with such laws is a completely different debate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hard Truth View Post
    Obscenity has to be sexually explicit per case law. The photo is not explicit.
    Define sexuality explicit, particularly as used in case law. Please back up your point with cases that were dismissed or charges dropped because the supposed explicit act was not coupled with exposed genitals. Remember that the dictionary definition of something is not necessarily reflected in law, which is why they have those definition section in law.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hard Truth View Post
    Since the Supreme Court struck down the flag desecration laws, it would be very unlikely to uphold a desecration law concerning an object that has no official special status.
    Is this the case that you were referring to? You might want to look closer. Basically it deals with the fact that the people burning the flags were burning their own flags and thus that is protected under both free speech and property rights. It's their property and thus they can do what they want with it. That is hardly applicable in this case since the kid in question was not performing the act with his own property or with the permission of the property owner.
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    Re: Boy Charged For Desecration Of Jesus Statue

    Quote Originally Posted by maquiscat View Post
    If a security camera takes a picture of someone trespassing and no one is there to see the trespass at the time does that mean that the offense is created by the picture? No. A picture of a crime is not the crime itself, it is the evidence. As noted multiple times, had this person posted a photo of themselves with their own statue or even did a photo shop (i.e. did nothing with the real object other than photograph it) there would be no desecration. Please provide a link to the case where SCOTUS struck down desecration laws as a whole. While I may be wrong, I'm willing to bet that they struck down laws that were religious specific.



    I will agree with you that if a specific desecration law, even the one applied in this specific case, is religious object specific (i.e. it applies only to religious objects) then indeed that would be unconstitutional. But since desecration can happen to non-religious objects as well, there is nothing unconstitutional about them, in general. Now whether or not we should bother with such laws is a completely different debate.



    Define sexuality explicit, particularly as used in case law. Please back up your point with cases that were dismissed or charges dropped because the supposed explicit act was not coupled with exposed genitals. Remember that the dictionary definition of something is not necessarily reflected in law, which is why they have those definition section in law.

    Is this the case that you were referring to? You might want to look closer. Basically it deals with the fact that the people burning the flags were burning their own flags and thus that is protected under both free speech and property rights. It's their property and thus they can do what they want with it. That is hardly applicable in this case since the kid in question was not performing the act with his own property or with the permission of the property owner.
    "....the Supreme Court laid out “basic guidelines” for jurors in obscenity cases in its 1973 decision Miller v. California. These include:

    •Whether the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest.
    •Whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law.
    •Whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.
    The Court reasoned that individuals could not be convicted of obscenity charges unless the materials depict “patently offensive hard core sexual conduct.” This means that many materials dealing with sex, including pornographic magazines, books, and movies, simply do not qualify as legally obscene.

    Even more fundamentally, nudity does not equal obscenity. The Supreme Court recognized this in Jenkins v. Georgia, when it ruled that the film “Carnal Knowledge” was not obscene. Justice William Rehnquist wrote in that 1974 case that “nudity alone is not enough to make material legally obscene under the Miller standards....”
    Pornography & obscenity | First Amendment Center

    If that seems vague you are right. That is how the Supremes left it. The term "sexually explicit" is not used, but the history of successful prosections of "obscene" material shows that only convictions for explicit depictions of sexual or excretory functions are upheld. (It gets more complicated with alleged child porn but that is not relevant to this case)

    Regarding tresspasing, the usual practice is to tell someone to leave when they are tresspassing on your property. The police can arrest the tresspasser if they still refuse to leave. It is unusual for someone to be charged with tresspassing when they comply with an order to leave, but that charge might be added when other crimes such as vandalism occurred. I don't know as much about tresspassing laws as I do first amendment law, but I have never heard of anyone being charged with tresspassing due to a photograph or video unless their was another crime involved.

    The crime the kid in the OP was charged with is desecration, which literally means to make a sacred object non-sacred. The whole concept is based on superstition. The Pensylvania law defines it as doing something to an object that would offend an admirer of the object. (which is unconstitutionally vague IMO) Apparently no one witnessed the original act, or cared enough to make a complaint about tresspassing or desecration when the picture taken. Charges were filed when some law enforcement officer saw the picture and decided to be offended.

    The desecration law is unconstitutional because is based on a person being offended by an act, not on the intent of the act itself or material harm from the act. There is no right to not be offended. (although an exception has wrongly been made for broadcast TV and radio] The creator of a form of expression can not control whether someone is offended, taking offense is a choice made by a person perceiving the work or act.


    Since the object was not damaged and no one witnessed or cared about the possible tresspassing (the kids probably entered the property while it was open to the public since most churches allow anyone to visit their facilities) The charges are not based on the owner of the statue objecting to the use of the statue by the kid, so the ownership of the statue is not relevant to these descartion charges.

    The only "crime" was offending the police with the photo. The cop was not there at the time the photo was taken, so the offense was all about the photo, not the original act. Since the photo does not even come close to being obscene, the prosecution is a first asmendment case that is extremely unlikely to be successful if the defendants make any effort to fight the charge. If it is appealed to a sufficiently high level, the desecration law will probably be ruled unconstitutional.
    Last edited by Hard Truth; 09-27-14 at 04:32 PM.

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    Re: Boy Charged For Desecration Of Jesus Statue

    The term "sexually explicit" is used in some state obscenity laws. This is the definition for the State of Washington:
    (2) "Sexually explicit material" as that term is used in this section means any pictorial material displaying direct physical stimulation of unclothed genitals, masturbation, sodomy (i.e. bestiality or oral or anal intercourse), flagellation or torture in the context of a sexual relationship, or emphasizing the depiction of adult human genitals: PROVIDED HOWEVER, That works of art or of anthropological significance shall not be deemed to be within the foregoing definition.

    Chapter 9.68 RCW: OBSCENITY AND PORNOGRAPHY

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    Re: Boy Charged For Desecration Of Jesus Statue

    Quote Originally Posted by HenryChinaski View Post
    Was the statue offended? Has anyone bothered to ask the statue how it feels? Do you think that the statue will cope and learn to make it through the sexual assault?
    The statue has been receiving counseling and is reported to be doing well. The statue did not participate in the prosecution efforts and told reporters that it was "merely a childish stunt," he forgives the defendants and he considers the prosecution "a waste of limited government resources."

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    Re: Boy Charged For Desecration Of Jesus Statue

    The Supreme courts decision in the flag burning case shows why the Pennsylvania desecration law is likely to be ruled unconstitional.

    "The court first found that Johnson's burning of the flag was expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment. Therefore in order for a state to criminalize or regulate such conduct it would have to serve a compelling state interest that would outweigh the protection of the First Amendment. The court concluded that criminally sanctioning flag desecration in order to preserve the flag as a symbol of national unity was not a compelling enough interest to survive the constitutional challenge. .....The court said, "Recognizing that the right to differ is the centerpiece of our First Amendment freedoms . . . a government cannot mandate by fiat a feeling of unity in its citizens. Therefore that very same government cannot carve out a symbol of unity and prescribe a set of approved messages to be associated with that symbol. . . . "...."
    Background summary & questions (

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    Re: Boy Charged For Desecration Of Jesus Statue

    Quote Originally Posted by Paleocon View Post
    He committed a heinous act of blasphemy.
    I thought it was pretty funny ...
    Stupid, but funny none the less.
    A harmless teenage prank.

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    Re: Boy Charged For Desecration Of Jesus Statue

    Quote Originally Posted by Paleocon View Post
    It ought to be.
    To be punished under biblical law?
    What is the biblical penalty for blasphemy?

    or are you smarter than the author(s) of the bible and wish not to impose the correct biblical punishment?
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    Re: Boy Charged For Desecration Of Jesus Statue

    Quote Originally Posted by Paleocon View Post
    Warning: Extremely offensive image in link

    Boy Charged For Desecration Of Jesus Statue | The Smoking Gun



    I find it disgusting that this is a misdemeanor. It ought to be punished by imprisonment.
    They have similar punishments in some other countries... For instance, if you visit North Korea and take a picture of any of the dear leaders statues without including the entire statue, you will be punished.
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    Re: Boy Charged For Desecration Of Jesus Statue

    Quote Originally Posted by RogueWarrior View Post
    To be punished under biblical law?
    What is the biblical penalty for blasphemy?

    or are you smarter than the author(s) of the bible and wish not to impose the correct biblical punishment?
    The judicial precepts of Moses's law no longer bind.

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