An Everett, Pennsylvania, teenager is facing two years locked away over some offensive photos posted to his facebook account.
The photos depict him in mock sexual positions with a Jesus Statue. The statue does not appear to have been harmed during the incident.
KRON4 reports that the photos were taken and uploaded in July in front of the “Love in the Name of Christ” Christian organization in his hometown of Everett.
The young man is charged with “Desecration of a Venerated Object.”, which is defined as “Defacing, damaging, polluting or otherwise, physically mistreating in a way that the actor knows will outrage the sensibilities of persons likely to observe or discover the action.”
This is a charge that was often used against people who burnt American flags in protest.
In Texas v. Johnson, Johnson was charged with Desecration of a Venerated Object for burning an American Flag during the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas.
The case brought to light questions about whether or not expressive acts were protected under the amendment. The supreme court ultimately decided that the burning of the flag in protest was in fact, protected speech, since it was done in an expressive manner with obvious political intentions.
It is important to note that any act may be protected or not depending upon context and intention. For example, if a flag was burned in protest it is protected speech, if it was burned as an act of vandalism, it is not.
If the young man was expressing his distaste for the church, then legally, per our constitution, these charges must be dropped.