The highest criminal court in Texas struck down part of a law banning “upskirt” photos earlier this month. The judges argued that taking photos in public without permission are entitled to be protected by the First Amendment. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals panel ruled that outlawing “improper photography or visual recording” would be a violation of federal free-speech rights and a “paternalistic” effort to regulate the photographers’ thoughts.
“The camera is essentially the photographer’s pen and paintbrush,” Judge Sharon Keller wrote in the court’s 8-1 opinion. “A person’s purposeful creation of photographs and visual recordings is entitled to the same First Amendment protection as the photographs and visual recordings themselves.”
has reported that the case involved Ronald Thompson, who was charged with 26 counts of improper photography in 2011 after taking underwater photos of swimsuit-clad children at a San Antonio water park. Thompson challenged the constitutionality of the improper photography ban before his case even went to trial, claiming that “a plain reading of the law would place street photographers, entertainment journalists, arts patrons, pep rally attendees and ‘even the harmless eccentric’ at risk of incarceration.”
“Protecting someone who appears in public from being the object of sexual thoughts seems to be the sort of ‘paternalistic interest in regulating the defendant’s mind’ that the First Amendment was designed to guard against,” Keller wrote. “We also keep in mind the Supreme Court’s admonition that the forms of speech that are exempt from First Amendment protection are limited, and we should not be quick to recognize new categories of unprotected expression.”
The court has made the ultimate decision to loosen the law so that any form of photograph taken in public is called ‘art’, and is an expression of their thoughts and creativity. So we mustn’t restrict photos taken in public because their images are protected under their First Amendment right. The court has made a giant leap and has left a lot of unprotected grey area. People should be able to express themselves through photography in public, but their right to do so shouldn’t infringe on others rights.
You have the right to more or less do anything you want, express yourself through a range of interactions and presentations, as long as those actions don’t intrude on someone else’s right to not have to you interfere in their life. While they have said it is okay to take photos of clothed, swimming children, they have also said it is okay to take photos up female skirts and down their blouses. Should that be right?
Which was once a crime is now legal.
You have to go to great efforts of secrecy and camera positioning to get away with taking these crude and unwanted images. When these women get up in the morning and decide to put a skirt on they weren’t sending everyone an open invitation to take very low angle images up their skirts. So why should people taking these images get these images labelled as an expression through art?
I completely understand that fact that there is nothing stopping each and every one of us from having crude thoughts about complete strangers we see on the street. While those images can figuratively stay in our minds doesn’t mean we should go to arm’s length to make a hard copy.
The situation here all along is whether people’s actions are intruding on someone else’s personal freedom. And when someone has to make great efforts to portray someone as they didn’t intend to be portrays when they left their home that morning, well that is an invasion of their personal rights and freedom.