But that leaves us with the complex question of what is right and wrong. Many libertarian and freedom loving conservatives would define wrong as anything which harms some elses' life liberty or property. But even that definiton is not simple in implementation. By that definiton drunk driving at three time the legal limit of alcohol is not wrong. It is only wrong once you hit someone.
In the current context, could someone's reputation, and therefore life, career, family etc. be harmed by this type of photoshopping? For example someone photoshops the local pastor going into a porn shop. Could it damage his family and career? Is it only wrong if it does damage his career, or harms him in a way that he can prove it in court beyond any reasonable doubt?
What do you think our founding fatehrs in the 1650's would have done if someone painted such a lewd figure of a public figure and put it in public view? Would the action you think they would have taken been because they were liberty hating religious nut prudes, or perhaps is your reaction instead skewed based on successive generations of moral debasement in America?
I think you described pretty much my thinking, but more eloquently than I could have. It comes down to “my rights end where yours begin” — that is, the machete wielder is perfectly fine possessing and carrying the weapon, but once it uses it to start harming others without just cause, then it’s wrong.
In this case, that is, photoshopping, it’s fuzzier because the damage potentially done is to abstract concepts such as reputation. Clearly, an attempt to falsely manipulate an image for gain would be fraud, but at the same time, parody and satire are strongly protected concepts.
I think, regardless of the content of the image alteration (e.g., “lewd”, “obscene”), and such altered image that is presented as being “true” that can damage a person’s reputation and/or livelihood (the example of photoshopping an image of a pastor or priest (or say, elementary school principal) entering a porn shop is a good one) should be subject to AT LEAST civil damages for libel.
A criminal charge is harder to justify, though when you get into the realm of pornographic imagery, you’re already treading in gray areas to start with.
But something clearly presented as parody or satire (barring any obscenity issues) should be immune from such litigation.
earnest forgets there are libel and slander laws, with hundreds of years of case law behind that.