Press Release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus , Feb. 25, 2014:
NASHVILLE – Sellers or lenders of materials that violate the Tennessee obscenity law designed to protect minors could find themselves facing jail time and thousands of dollars in fines under legislation offered by Senator Jim Summerville (R-Dickson). Senate Bill 2449 increases the act from a Class C to a Class A misdemeanor, the highest classification of offenses short of felonies.
“This legislation does not prohibit the production and sale of this material, and thus raises no First Amendment issues,” the sponsor says. “All these parties can protect themselves by carefully observing the rules in the current statute, including sealing the material and wrapping it in an opaque cover.
“The simple fact is that many don’t, and that’s why my legislation is necessary.”
Present law requires vendors to meet certain conditions for display or rental of harmful material, including videocassettes, books, magazines, pamphlets, videogames, and computer software games.
Summerville’s legislation also adds to the parties who could face prosecution under this law. The bill specifies this list to include retail store managers, wholesalers, distributors, and rack jobbers. Any or all could be held responsible for any display in violation of the law.
“I’m afraid that even responsible parents are often unaware of the sexual content of what were once respectable publications,” Summerville continued. Cosmopolitan Magazine is no longer your mother’s Cosmo. The Hearst Corporation, Cosmopolitan’s publisher, has declined to shield its cover despite a request from the Concerned Women of Tennessee. “This group, some of whose leaders live in Robertson County, brought this matter to my attention.”
Summerville’s bill has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it has been placed on notice for on Tuesday. He represents Cheatham, Dickson, Hickman, Humphreys, and Robertson Counties in District 25 in the State Senate.