February 13, 2013 | 07:59 AMSTEVEN TYLER ACT SAILING ALONG
As anyone who's watched five minutes of C-SPAN should know, there was nothing in the least surprising last Friday about the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee's passing of SB465–the so-called "Steven Tyler Act." The news was abuzz Friday morning when Steven Tyler himself testified before the committee on the bill (which the Associated Press reported was largely written by Dina LaPolt, Tyler's attorney) that would criminalize the taking of photos of famous persons, even if such persons were in public areas.
You think the good senators are going to trash can the bill (introduced by Maui's own Senator J. Kalani English) when Tyler and fellow aged rocker Mick Fleetwood show up in person in the Capitol and spend some pre-hearing time posing for deliciously un-ironic photos with those same good senators?
Never mind that the state Attorney General's office opposes the bill, saying it's "vague and overly broad." The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which represents television news organizations, also opposes the bill, calling it "vague and ambiguous" and says it "abridges the right of free speech."
"Proponents of the legislation assert that aggressive paparazzi are causing harm, and that this legislation will curb that behavior," states the MPAA's official testimony against the bill. "However, police already have the power to ensure that public streets and sidewalks are open and not blocked to vehicular and pedestrian traffic. And there are ample common law remedies for invasion of privacy, including obtaining an injunction against conduct that menaces or harasses another."
But most of the testimony submitted so far has been in support of SB465. And, you guessed it, the support is all from celebrities. What's more, it's virtually all the same, identical support, in the form of the same, identical letter. A whole bunch of celebs submitted the same love letter to SB465, which contains the following language:
"As you know, Hawaii is a beautiful state known worldwide as a peaceful oasis far removed from the nonstop activity on the mainland. This tranquility is being violated by paparazzi who use high tech equipment or engage in high-speed car chases to capture celebrities' most private moments from unprecedented distances and sell those images or recordings for exorbitant sums of money."
See? The poor rich and famous of the world–who require fame and publicity, as long as it's on their terms–just want Hawaii to be their "oasis" from the terrible Mainland that funds their lives. Never mind that people actually live in Hawaii, people with the same rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution as they have. Hawaii is just a playground to the celebs, a place for shore leave before they have to return to the everyday grind of being famous.
Seriously, celebs need the press, and they need paparazzi, just like we need them (and as anyone who sees the long list of tags at the bottom of this post knows, we need them just as much). Anyway, the following celebs, rock stars and has-beens all signed this absurd, hypocritical SB465 support letter:
• Mick Fleetwood
• Tommy Lee
• Britney Spears
• Avril Lavigne
• Neil Diamond
• Katherine von Drachenberg ("Kat von D")
• Margaret Cho
• Fred Coury of Cinderella (who apparently felt compelled to sign his letter "Fred Coury of Cinderella" because, presumably, people otherwise wouldn't know who he was)
• Frankie Banali (Quiet Riot–see above)
• Darren "Dizzy" Reed of Guns N' Roses
Et tu, Margaret? After we put you on our Feb. 7 cover? For shame!
But what really cuts is the fact that Sharon, Kelly, Jack and Ozzy Osbourne all signed the same letter in support of the bill. That's right–the stars of The Osbournes, the MTV reality show that ran from 2002 to 2005–all whined to our state legislators about protecting their privacy rights (though it was nice to see that Ozzy's stationery includes a little cartoon of himself holding a cross that bears the name "OZZY").
Of course, Aimee Osbourne–Ozzy and Sharon's other daughter who long ago refused to participate in The Osbournes TV show because, she said, it was so intrusive–did NOT submit any testimony for or against the Steven Tyler Act.
But hey! Relax! This isn't about the First Amendment. It's about getting rich and famous people to buy expensive homes here–homes locals could never afford. And the celebs are perfectly willing to do this, if the state Legislature first helps them out. And the celebs' letter in support of SB465 makes this perfectly, nakedly clear:
"Providing a remedy to the often-egregious acts of the paparazzi is a very notable incentive to purchase property or vacation on the islands," states the celebs' support statement. "Not only would this help the local economy, but it would also help ensure the safety of the general public, which can be threatened by crowds of cameramen or dangerous high-speed car chases."
See? Don't you feel better now? Who cares that legislators are lining up to pass a bill that will never pass muster with either the state or U.S. Constitution (or, for that matter, that the Hawaii AG's office says there's no evidence that any celebrities have ever been deterred from moving to Hawaii because of paparazzi). What difference does it make if the celebs who signed support letters are just craven hypocrites who need fame to survive in the same way we need food and air?
They just want to spend the money they made being famous (helped, in large part, by paparazzi photos) to buy homes here and vacation here. Then, if we're lucky, they'll smile and drop coins in our palms when we serve their whims.
GMO LABELING BILL MOVES ON
On the brighter side, HB174, which mandates the labeling of foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs), is moving steadily through the state House of Representatives. The same day the Senate Judiciary Committee passed Tyler's bill, the House Ag Committee passed the GMO labeling bill.
"This was the first time in the history of the House that a GMO labeling bill has made it out of committee," said Committee Chairwoman Jessica Wooley in a Feb. 8 press release. "The draft that was adopted was a true compromise that resulted in a victory for the people of Hawaii. Local farmers will not be negatively impacted, we will not have to pay for labeling on processed foods, meat or dairy, and, most importantly, people will be able to know what they're eating."
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