Apparently Stripping Nude To Protest TSA Search Is Protected By The First Amendment

from the in-oregon-at-least dept

A few months ago, you may have heard about John Brennan, who was going through Portland International Airport, and felt that the TSA screening procedures were the equivalent of harassing him. In response, to protest, he stripped naked… and was promptly arrested for disorderly conduct and indecent exposure. However, a court has now acquitted Brennan by saying that the stripping was an act of public protest, and thus protected by the First Amendment. The judge pointed out that there’s already state precedent in Oregon that anti-nudity laws “do not apply in cases of protest.”

“It is the speech itself that the state is seeking to punish, and that it cannot do,” Circuit Judge David Rees said.

The DA who prosecuted the case is complaining that now anyone arrested for indecent exposure can just claim that it’s a protest.

Deputy District Attorney Joel Petersen argued that Brennan only spoke of a protest minutes later. Petersen urged the judge to recognize that distinction, “otherwise any other person who is ever naked will be able to state after the fact” that it was done in protest.

Of course, this now raises the troubling (or appealing, depending on your nature) idea that stripping at the front of the TSA line may become more popular. That said, if you’re now… er… itching to disrobe in front of the TSA, it’s worth noting that this ruling is specific to Oregon, and who knows how other states might deal with the same issue.

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Comments on “Apparently Stripping Nude To Protest TSA Search Is Protected By The First Amendment”

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64 Comments
Lord of the Files says:

Re: Re:

I’m guessing you agree with Deputy District Attorney Joel Petersen. There is a flaw with his argument though. The facts would have to support those making such claims. Yes, that pesky little thing I like to call evidence. Claiming you were stripping in protest doesn’t work without it, plus I honestly don’t believe everyone is going to suddenly be clamoring to get naked in public, be it in protest or otherwise. The Judge got this one right IMHO.

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I suspect that this defence won’t work for wandering around the street naked, but anyone stripping off at a TSA checkpoint could be reasonably assumed to be making a protest, especially once this is known. This is particularly appropriate as a protesting method as it is in direct relation to the unwarranted actions by the state, i.e. to sexually assault you or make illegal porn of you.

MrWilson says:

“The DA who prosecuted the case is complaining that now anyone arrested for indecent exposure can just claim that it’s a protest.”

That’s silly. Brennan stripped during what many Americans feel is an insulting and degrading security theater spectacle. If someone is just randomly running around naked and gets arrested for indecent exposure, what treatment prior to them stripping could they point at to say they were protesting? Brennan had a reasonable context for his claim of protest. Other such accused people might not depending on their circumstances.

The DA just doesn’t want legitimate protesters (even spontaneous ones) from being able to fight charges meant to keep the airport chattel in line.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

What’s even sillier is that in Oregon, public nudity is not against the law unless it is salacious in nature. So you can walk around naked, but not if you are masturbating.

An “indecent exposure” charge in Oregon means a lot more than that you were naked, and it makes the DA’s concern nothing more than pure bullshit.

Torg (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“If someone is just randomly running around naked and gets arrested for indecent exposure, what treatment prior to them stripping could they point at to say they were protesting?”

I’ve often considered doing just that in protest of public indecency laws. If I’m ever in Oregon I now know the first thing I need to do.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Made me think of this from Old School

Peppers: Hey, hey. Careful with that. That’s the most powerful tranq gun on the market. Got her in Mexico.
Frank: Cool.
Peppers: Yeah, it is cool. They say it can puncture the skin of a rhino from…
[Frank shoots himself in the neck with the dart]
Peppers: YES! That’s awesome!
Frank: What?
Peppers: You just took one in the jugular, man.
Frank: What? I did.
[feeling his neck]
Peppers: YES!
Frank: Oh, my God. Is this bad? Is this bad?
Peppers: You better pull that shit out, man. That shit is not cool.
Frank: Wait. What? Pull what out?
Peppers: You got a fucking dart in your neck, man.
Frank: [laughing] You’re… you’re crazy, man. I like you, but you’re crazy.

Machin Shin (profile) says:

Really a pity how hard it is to organize large scale protests. If everyone who was insulted by the TSA would all protest the same day then we might get a change, but most people would be too worried about getting to their place on time and so on.

Just think about it though if everyone who went to an airport carried a pocket knife on them one day. TSA end up having to check everyone and finding a knife on almost everyone they check. The system would crash and they could not handle it.

The whole thing is just stupid these days. There is no way in hell anyone is going to hijack a plane anymore. I don’t care if you have an assault rifle, the other passengers will kill you if you stand up and say your taking the plane.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The whole thing is just stupid these days. There is no way in hell anyone is going to hijack a plane anymore. I don’t care if you have an assault rifle, the other passengers will kill you if you stand up and say your taking the plane.

This. I’ve been saying this since 9/12/01. 9/11 was a zero-day exploit, a hack that demonstrates the vulnerability of the system in the act of using it. It’s something that can never happen again (as long as we remember it) and being afraid of terrorists hijacking airplanes anymore is ridiculous.

Sad Mac says:

Re: Not the route I wouldn't gone

“I always figured a good ‘get out of grope’ tactic would be to inform them that as soon as they start the feel-up, that you’d start groaning, loudly, to ‘show your appreciation’. After all, if you’re going to be humiliated, it’s only fair they get something out of the deal too.”

LOL and LMAO. Of course, I hope you realize that you may have found the biggest loophole there is that would get around both the public nudity laws and indecency laws in most states 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

Not like it wasn't provoked...

He’d been through the scanner AND had a patdown… and THEN they were pulling him aside. It’s not until that point that he did his “disrobing” protest. Effectively saying, “Hey, now where am I hiding a bomb?!?!” On the issue of the “public nudity”… Oregon is an exceedingly liberal state that tends to favor freedoms. *shrug*

Wally (yes I was in Vegas my last few writings no (profile) says:

Searches

I actually like this article because I had to go through the scanner at Columbus International Airport. My poor mother had to get pulled aside. (I took my parents to go see the North Rim of The Grand Canyon, Hiked in Bryce Canyon, and drove through Zion National Park….then hit the Vegas strip to see Circ Du Sol?). My poor mother set off the alarm because of her knee replacement. The one thing that pissed me off the most was that no matter how many times we told the agent on duty what it was, the agent demanded a “random” strip search. I raised enough ruckous about her knee that the agent’s supervisor came out and asked for a female assist on a simple frisk.

Now that I have the story, I honestly have no problem being scanned. But man alive it’s funny (and awesome) that someone finally got away with stripping down in protest 🙂

If any of you have been scanned, let me reassure you the only level of exposure is the radiation of a normal x-ray or MRI scan. The outline of your body isn’t very visible. Don’t get me wrong, I still hate being scanned like that, I’ve just gotten too used to it. Those 3d images that the scanners produced were a-kin to the public notification of the F-117 Stealth Bomber. It wasn’t real and the press could not show you the x-ray resolution for the scanners due to matters of national security.

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