Bluestem loves to read State Representative Tony Cornish's Facebook page, with its lively discourse about life and politics. We wish he'd shoot more coyotes, but that's just the pet lover in us.
But the photo from his page that we've screengrabbed and posted above caused us to pause. Not because Cornish (R-Vernon Center) declares that the woman is in need of prayer (isn't eveyone?) or the comments about the bumpersticker, but that the photo was taken while someone--presumably the state representative, a retired lawman who serves as the chairman of the Minnesota House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee--while driving.
We can't say with any certainty that the photo was posted to Facebook while the driver-photographer was still driving. Bluestem believes that he must have waited to post the image and the prayer request after he arrived at his destination.
What's the problem? Minnesota Statute 169.47 states:
For purposes of this section, "electronic message" means a self-contained piece of digital communication that is designed or intended to be transmitted between physical devices. An electronic message includes, but is not limited to, e-mail, a text message, an instant message, a command or request to access a World Wide Web page, or other data that uses a commonly recognized electronic communications protocol. An electronic message does not include voice or other data transmitted as a result of making a phone call, or data transmitted automatically by a wireless communications device without direct initiation by a person.
Subd. 2.Prohibition on use.
No person may operate a motor vehicle while using a wireless communications device to compose, read, or send an electronic message, when the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic.
This section does not apply if a wireless communications device is used:
(1) solely in a voice-activated or other hands-free mode;
(2) for making a cellular phone call;
(3) for obtaining emergency assistance to (i) report a traffic accident, medical emergency, or serious traffic hazard, or (ii) prevent a crime about to be committed;
(4) in the reasonable belief that a person's life or safety is in immediate danger; or
(5) in an authorized emergency vehicle while in the performance of official duties.
Does snapping a photo with one's smartphone or tablet fall under that prohibition? Or perhaps exception (4) applies, though we suspect that the legislative intent was to text 911, not prayer requests on Facebook.
Regardless of the circumstance, the message about Facebooking is not one that a respected lawmaker ought share on Facebook, for as Jay Kolls and various law enforcement people taught Minnesotans during #Pointergate, unruly youth in our state comb Facebook and other social media looking for clues about appropriate behavior.
Representative Cornish, think of the youth of Minneapolis and Apple Valley!
Photo: Screengrab from Representative Cornish's Facebook page.
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