Thursday, March 06, 2014

When I go to Boston, I'm going to wear trousers and not a skirt...

This is just insane. Insane, I tell you.

The highest court in Massachusetts has ruled that it is legal for people to take pictures looking up a person's clothes. The reasoning for this decision included that the women had no reasonable expectation of privacy because the individuals in the case were riding public transportation in Boston. Additionally, the court ruled that a crime had not been committed because those photographed were not nude or partially nude at the time the photos were taken.

Apparently the statutes under with the perpetrator was prosecuted were poorly written, and there is also talk that the laws will be changed. As far as I can see, that's too little too late, even if you accept the reasoning, which I don't. What's even worse is that the ruling was written by a woman. I'm left wondering if she would have felt the same way if she had been one of the women who had someone stick a cell phone up her skirt to take a picture of her. I also wonder if the reasoning would also hold if someone had taken their hand and reached up under women's skirts.

I think there is a growing idea among some people that a person has no expectation of privacy at all and in any manner when they are in public. As far as I'm concerned, this is a dangerous trend. This ruling takes that to an extreme in that it essentially says that it's fine if someone walks up to me and surreptitiously takes a photo of my underwear - or of my private parts if I don't happen to be wearing underwear. It also indicates to me that if someone does that to me and I don't like it, I don't have any recourse - if I caught them and kicked them in the teeth for doing it, I'd be the one to get in trouble. I'd get charged for battery, but they wouldn't get charged with assault (which does not require any touching) for doing something to me that I did not consent to. Because, you know, going out in public is not implicit consent for people to take photos of my private parts or the underwear covering them.

I'll be honest. I think this ruling is wrong-headed and disrespectful, and it makes me angry enough that I can't even think of what else to say about it. And so, I'll leave it at that, with this question: "Justice Botsford, how would you like it if someone walked into your courtroom, which is after all a public place, and took a photo of you under your robes? Would that be acceptable? Or would you get mad as hell and have the person arrested and taken away? I suspect you would not like it at all, so how can you read the law to say that it's all right if it happens to other women?"

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