A Massachusetts man who was caught taking surreptitious photos up women's skirts without their knowledge or consent argued before the state's Supreme Court yesterday that the charges against him should be thrown out because FREE SPEECH. Seriously.
Thirty-one-year-old Michael Robertson of Andover, Massachusetts, was caught by police in 2010 snapping upskirt photos of women on the Green Line of Boston's T. This is not only really creepy and awful, but it's in violation of the state's "peeping Tom" law. Because fucking duh.
Robertson's lawyers contend that his case should be thrown out. Why? Because women who go out in public wearing skirts have no reasonable expectation of privacy for what's under those skirts. When you go out in public and happen to be a lady, explained Robertson's attorney Michelle Menken (who has officially betrayed womanity by defending this guy), people are going to take pictures of you. It's just an occupational hazard of existing in public.
Menken maintains that the laws regarding taking unwanted pictures of women are outdated and actually protected under the First Amendment.
Menken told the justices that peeping Tom laws protect women and men from being photographed in dressing rooms and bathrooms who are nude or partially nude. However, the way the law is written right now it does not protect clothed people in public areas.
Oh. Ok. I didn't realize that unless I'm literally wearing that garbage bag outfit from Missy Elliott's "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)" video, It's okay for people to take wank pictures on their cell phone because the Constitution guarantees it. It's what the Founding Fathers intended.
I have some issues with this interpretation of the First Amendment, mostly because I'm pretty sure if the Founding Fathers saw Michael Robertson taking upskirt photos of women with his cell phone, they'd convict him of witchcraft and throw him in an asylum, away from his "hand held devilry." The Constitution was not written with cell phones in mind.
But back to Robertson's attorney's argument. According to Menken, no private parts are even visible in Robertson's photos; underwear are covering all the vaginas, and thus what Robertson was doing isn't illegal. If women are wearing skirts, they are therefore implicitly consenting to the photography of their cotton-covered vulvas by strangers.
Menken said the women in the photographs can not be considered partially nude because their underwear covered everything and no private parts could be seen in the pictures taken.
“They have to be in an exposed state to violate the current law and these women were not,” she said.
Menken further argued that Robertson wasn't being sneaky, that everything he photographed was "in plain sight." Wearing a skirt is the same thing as walking around with your crotch out, I guess. That, and the old "he's not hurting anyone!" line.
Problem is, Peeping Tom-ish behavior often precedes other, more direct physical violations. Like groping, sexual assault, and rape. All of which are decidedly not okay in public settings.
If convicted, Robertson will go to jail for more than 2 years. If not convicted, I'll be spending the ensuing several hours slowly banging my head against a wall.