October 20, 2020 Feature

Revenge Porn Legislation and the First Amendment

Jeremy Saland
Does criminalizing revenge porn violate the First Amendment’s protection of free speech?

Does criminalizing revenge porn violate the First Amendment’s protection of free speech?

RyanKing999/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Joseph Campbell, a mid-20th-century scholar of comparative religion credited by George Lucas for influencing Star Wars, poignantly wrote, “We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us” (https://tinyurl.com/y5khnlga). Although quite relatable to the changing landscape and uncertainty of the COVID-19 world in which we find ourselves, Campbell’s advice is no less valuable in a multitude of contexts, including times of grief, sorrow, and despair precipitated by failed relationships and unrequited love. In contrast to Campbell, Grammy Award–winning musician Frank Ocean advocated a more aggressive and “eye-for-an-eye” approach when it comes to jilted lovers. Ocean asserted, “If someone breaks your heart, just punch them in the face. Seriously. Punch them in the face and go get some ice cream” (https://tinyurl.com/y62q8kg2). Even though the latter attitude is starkly different than the former, neither reaction to anger, sadness, and despair is likely unique to these two men, nor their respective contemporaries.

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