Friday, February 18, 2005

Feeling Randy in Atlanta? Don't Call Your Wife to Tell Her!

CNB presumes the state of Georgia to be a fine state (even with its unfortunate history with regard to race relations -- that Lester Maddox wasn't what folks would call "inclusive"). However, it continues to maintain a law that criminalizes "obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or indecent" suggestions made by telephone.

CNB notes that there are many nonsensical laws that remain in effect all over the U.S., and does not fault the nice people of Georgia (although that term might not apply to Zell Miller) for failing to remove the law. However, for some reason, Forsyth County assistant solicitor Inez Grant defendend law before the Georgia Supreme Court on, of all days, Valentine's Day.

A bit of background: the state prosecuted a then-17-year old boy who placed five collect telephone calls to a 14-year-old girl, who accepted the calls. The calls were recorded on the detention center’s pay phone system, and had sexual content. The girl’s mother complained to the 17-year-old's probation officer, and the boy was charged with five counts of making harassing and obscene phone calls. After being found guilty, he was sentenced to two years’ probation.

Sounds reasonable -- protecting our minors, right? Here's the problem: it applies to ALL telephone conversations, not just those with minors or meant to harass (as the oft-amended federal law reads). In fact, the Forsyth County assistant solicitor took the position that the telephone is off limits for all X-rated talk, even to one's spouse, because "the state can regulate its public utilities," including telephone lines. Georgia Supreme Court Justice Carol W. Hunstein responded to the argument with the only reasoned response: "What?"