Bill Means Harsher Penalties for Paparazzi

Assembly Bill 2479, or the “anti-paparazzi bill,” was approved by the California legislature at the end of August. If it’s signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a paparazzi photographer could face more serious criminal charges than current laws allow, including jail time.

Here at the blog, we are split on this very thorny issue, as you’ll read in this “point-counterpoint”….

A: I say it’s about time.

B: It’s NONSENSE. They’re gonna waste taxpayers’ money debating Assembly Bill 2479 when they already know it’s illegal. The article even says that. And there are laws that exist that address the driving. “False imprisonment,” that’s a joke. Celebrities are not being held against their will, AND THEY CAN LEAVE WHENEVER THEY WANT. This won’t hold up.

A: You have a right to take photos in public up to a point. I’m not arguing that. When it crosses the line into harassment, aggression, stalking, literally hunting people down, it’s not OK anymore. I don’t think bands of reckless thugs who drive the wrong way down Laurel Canyon to get a shot of Britney Spears should be protected under the law as if that’s somehow a legitimate “right” we all have.

B: Again, there are already laws that exist to combat harassment, aggression, stalking. How is AB 2479 any different from the existing law that was used to charge the guy who drove cross-country to stalk Jennifer Aniston? “Literally hunting people down” is a catchphrase used by AB 2479 advocates to garner support for this illegal bill. It’s all about wording and manipulation to trick the public into believing that there is an actual threat that can’t be dealt with by using existing laws. It’s about creating fear, which is the first tactic used by government officials to get what they want.

Finally, we can’t penalize someone because they’re holding a camera in public while following a celebrity. It’s a slippery slope that will potentially lead to the erosion of more of our First Amendment rights. What’s next? Locking up photojournalists who continually photograph corrupt politicians while they’re in public?

A: That’s a huge leap. I am the biggest supporter of First Amendment rights there is (uh, hello?), and I’m all for photographing corrupt politicians. There isn’t a multi-million dollar industry for corrupt politician photos so the level of stalking doesn’t even come close.

B: Continually taking pictures of someone in public is not a crime. And let’s not forget that it’s a fact that celebrities and their “people” tip off paparazzi to get publicity. Without paparazzi, celebrities would fade away much quicker than they already do. Where would Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston be without paps? I’m all for never seeing them (or their mother) ever again, however, if it means destroying the First Amendment, then I’ll happily deal with that dysfunctional family.

A: How many times do we have to go over this? I am not for outlawing paparazzi! And I fully realize many, many celebrities tip them off. Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston aren’t even relevant to this discussion because they’re desperate for press and continually sell their stories. We’re talking about paparazzi who pursue celebs in cars (ever hear of Princess Diana?), camping outside kids’ schools every day, screaming out inflammatory and obscene things to get a reaction, literally provoking the subject to get a “good” shot?

B: Then stop reading Popsugar if you don’t like it!!! Obviously, you have not done your research into Diana’s death, which goes much deeper than paps following her in a car. Camping outside schools? Big deal, it’s a public sidewalk. These rich celebrities should send their kids to gated private schools that are on private property if they don’t want their picture taken. And please provide video evidence of paps “screaming out inflammatory and obscene things to get a reaction, literally provoking the subject to get a “good” shot”? As far as I know, Sean Penn attacks paps just for taking his picture, and if you watch TMZ, the camera operators actually engage the celebrities in consensual conversations. Maybe Harvey Levin should mediate this debate.

A: Popsugar publishes friendly paparazzi photos. Celebrities know that’s what they’re in for by being public figures. THOSE are not the issue. The issue is situations like dozens of photographers surrounding Sandra Bullock’s car in what amounts to a scary feeding frenzy. And Sandra, I might add, is not the sort of celebrity who ever asks for attention.

B: First, what the hell is a “friendly” paparazzi photo? Is a picture from a public beach of a topless celebrity not “friendly?” If so, why not? Is a picture of Jennifer Love Hewitt’s big fat ass on a public sidewalk not “friendly?” Mischa Barton picking her nose on a public bench while showcasing her cellulite thighs? All of which, let me remind you, were obtained legally. Again, if the photos were obtained illegally, there are already laws that exist to prosecute the individual. More importantly, and fortunately for all of us, laws in the US can’t be created to criminalize a select group of individuals—it’s unconstitutional.

A: Yes, they can. Ever hear of a select group of people called murderers?

B: Really? You just accused me of taking a “huge leap” and then use that senseless analogy. A non-pap and a pap who commits murder will be charged with the same crime. Just like any other crime. AB 2479 is a law that was clearly created to punish paparazzi for working as paparazzi and nobody else. Be thankful that the founding fathers were smart enough to create the First and Fourteenth Amendments. And, by the way, for all you paparazzi haters, if TMZ didn’t exist, then we wouldn’t know the evil truth about Mel Gibson, which Sheriff Lee Baca tried to cover up and the rest of the media ignored until TMZ broke the story.

A: I don’t disagree with that. TMZ has done this country a great service.

Article from Sacramento Bee and Malibu Times

2 Responses to “Bill Means Harsher Penalties for Paparazzi”

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  1. 1 New Law Means Aggressive Paps Face Harsher Penalities « Trackback on October 2, 2010 at 10:26 am

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