The state Legislature of Tennessee is considering a law that would prohibit people from watching pornographic movies in their cars.



Ford Expedition among vehicles with video entertainment

The so-called “drive-by porn” bill, already OK’d by the state Senate, will be heard this week in the House Subcommittee on Civil Procedure and practice, the Tennessean reported.

Republican Sen. Mark Norris, sponsor of the Senate bill, is concerned about children in other vehicles being able to view pornography on the screens of in-car DVD players.

”Given the state of technology and people’s interests these days, we felt like we needed a law to target this,” Norris told the paper. ”It’s up to you what you do in the privacy of your home or vehicle, but don’t expose the people around you to it.”

Under the bill, violators would be subject to a $50 fine.

”I use [a DVD player] to keep the kids entertained on long trips or when they’re really freaking out, but I wouldn’t want my kids to look over and see an obscene movie in someone else’s car,” father Kevin Hipp of Nashville told the paper.

The state’s American Civil Liberties Union is opposed to the bill, saying it doesn’t clearly define ”obscene” or ”patently offensive,” the terms used in the bill. The group’s Hedy Weinberg pointed out the First Amendment protects patently offensive material.

”What one person considers offensive may be fine to someone else,” Hedy said, according to the report. ”Does law enforcement really want to go chasing down what people are watching in their cars? It seems like they have much more serious work to do.”

The Motion Picture Association of America also is opposed to the legislation.

”Theoretically, someone could say ‘The Passion of The Christ’ is patently offensive,” Tony Thompson, a Nashville attorney and lobbyist for the MPAA, told the Tennessean.

”The movie companies I represent don’t make obscene movies, and we’re all for banning obscene movies in cars. But using the term ‘patently offensive’ could have unintended consequences.”

The issue of “drive-by porn” has gained national attention lately. According to the Nashville paper, last month a man in Schenectady, N.Y., was arrested for publicly displaying offensive material after police saw him viewing an adult movie in his sport utility vehicle. And in Flint, Mich., the City Council is considering a measure that would impose a $500 fine on drivers who play pornographic movies in their cars.

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