OPINION: Dear Steven, Thanks for the Memories

March 26, 2013, 5:12 PM HST
* Updated March 26, 6:23 PM
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To the 0.0001% of society who would have benefited from the so-called “Steven Tyler Act,” we express our condolences.

The proposed law, which apparently was dead-on-arrival in the state House, was intended to, in the words of Tyler’s attorney, “protect all public figures” from unwanted attention when they had a “reasonable expectation of privacy.”

Apart from shielding various celebrities from paparazzi, Senate Bill 465 would also have been rather appealing to “public figures” of a different sort. Vladimir Putin, for instance.

"Vladdi" would have been a fan of SB 465.

“Vladdi” would have been a fan of SB 465.

In short, it kicked a lot of sand in the face of the First Amendment.

Tyler really isn’t to blame for this whole embarrassment, though. The famed Aerosmith front man was trying to solve a legitimate gripe. It was the Senate’s eager embrace of such a blatantly unconstitutional piece of legislation that was so dumbfounding.


How did two-thirds of our senators, ostensibly tasked with writing rules for the benefit of the public, end up co-sponsoring this thing? Perhaps a simple case of envy was at play.


For rock stars, rule-breaking is just part of business-as-usual. Elvis didn’t shake his hips in the name of fitness. Likewise, Prince doesn’t play a phallic-shaped guitar because it’s easier to tune.

Rather, these flamboyant breaks with convention are an image-boost, and those that play the game best can often find themselves buried in other people’s money.

Tyler himself is known for his over-the-top past antics. In his younger years, it would not have been shocking to read that he spent a weekend snorting cocaine off of a giraffe. With a supermodel. In Siberia.


Of course, career politicians face an opposite set of expectations. It’s tempting to conclude that the supporters of SB 465 were simply taking a moment to live vicariously (daresay, on the edge), constitution be damned.

Being all bold and rebel-like can feel good, especially when you’re making international headlines.

Either way, SB 465’s fans in the legislature seemed to miss an obvious point.

The paparazzi have been great for Hawai`i.

Did this seal have a reasonable expectation of privacy? Photo courtesy of John Goese.

Did this seal have a reasonable expectation of privacy? Photo courtesy of John Goese.

Thanks to these obnoxiously intrusive gossip-hounds, our islands have received years worth of free print-space in publications like “US Weekly” and “The National Enquirer.”

From post-baby bodies to honeymoon beach-romps, every snapshot that mentions one of our islands in the caption serves as a reminder that nearly everyone wants to come here.

Anyone actually disappointed by the failure of SB 465 can commiserate at their nearest checkout stand.

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