Without dissent, the House voted Tuesday to make it a crime to use the name or picture of any deceased soldier for certain commercial purposes.
But whether it will actually block the T-shirt sales it is meant to stop remains an open question.
SB 1014 is specifically aimed at Flagstaff businessman Dan Frazier, who has been selling T-shirts over the Internet that protest the war in Iraq. The original shirts have the names of about 1,700 U.S. war dead — the number at the time the shirts were printed — along with the message, “Bush Lied, They Died.’’ New shirts are being sold with 3,155 names of war dead.
The legislation, already approved in similar form by the Senate, would provide six-month jail terms for those who use the dead soldiers’ images or names without their relatives’ consent.
Frazier, however, told Capitol Media Services he doesn’t believe the measure can stop his activities.
Aside from the broader First Amendment claims, he also noted the bill specifically prohibits the use of the names in advertising goods for sale. If that’s the case, Frazier said, he simply can stop showing pictures of the T-shirts on his Web site.
But Rep. Jonathan Paton, R-Tucson, who recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq, said the legislation is broad enough to apply to any commercial use of the names.
Paton said that entitles those whose names are being used to some protection.
Testing the law would require some prosecutor actually bringing charges against Frazier.
Paton noted that pop stars get legal protection from having their names and images used to help someone else profit. “If it’s good enough for Britney (Spears), it’s good enough for a dead soldier’s mom,” he said.
But Frazier said that shows the flaws in both the law and the logic behind it.
He said it would be one thing if he were selling a Celine Dion T-shirt. In this case, he said, no one is buying the shirts because it has a specific soldier’s name on it but because of the broader anti-war message.
The legislation would not affect the ability of individuals from other states to sell such items to Arizonans.