This week, the Texas Court of Appeals made a ruling that is both outrageous and grotesque... and for the first time in recorded history, it has nothing to do with either abortion or the death penalty.
Rather, the court handed down a ruling in a case in which a photographer alleged his first amendment rights had been violated when he was charged with quote "improper photography."
"Improper photography" is not a phrase I'd ever heard, so I looked it up:
Turns out it's a statute in the Texas criminal code that says in Texas, a person commits an offense of "improper photography" if the person:
(a) photographs or by videotape or other electronic means records ... a visual image of another at a location that is not a bathroom or private dressing room:
(b) without the other person's consent; and
(c) with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.
So - you're probably thinking this guy one was one those creeps who hangs around the beach with a camera that has an amazing zoom - and takes pictures of women while they're sleeping, right? Or waits patiently for their boobs to pop out as they adjust their bikini top?
Or, maybe you think he's one of those guys who "accidentally" drops something on a street corner in the hopes that a hot women will bend down and pick it up... so he can get a peak down her shirt using the camera in his glasses?
Or, maybe you're thinking this is one of those guys who had his eye ball removed and replaced with an infra red camera that can see women's vaginas through their clothes?
Actually, it's none of those. And the last one? I made it up. It doesn't exist. At least not yet.
Anyway - what the Texas Court of Appeals has made legal is the taking of up skirt photos in public places - I repeat: taking up-skirts is legal! "Up Skirts" - in case you don't know - are pictures that a guy takes - it's usually a guy - a creepy guy - where he surreptitiously sneaks a camera under a woman's dress or skirt in order to take a secret picture of her vagina - for sexual gratification.
Not because he's a good samaritan who wants to check her for cancer.
On the web, up skirts are pretty popular - not as popular as hacked pics of naked Hollywood celebrities but more popular than pictures of cats.
In an 8 to 1 decision, the Texas court of appeals ruled that up-skirt shots are quote "inherently expressive" and that for the photographer, they are a kin to an artist's paint and brush.
And if you thought this case couldn't get more disturbing. You'd be wrong. Because there's this:
The photographer in question, Ronald Thompson who brought the case against Texas, actually wasn't taking up skirt photos, per se. What he did was a million billion trillion times worse. He was taking pictures underwater of children in their bathing suits at a San Antonio water park.
The chief judge, Judge Sharon Keller wrote that protecting someone, even a child just trying to have fun in a splash pool, "from being the object of sexual thoughts," is something the first amendment stands against."
The judge is wrong. Taking pictures of children in their bathing suits for sexual gratification should be a crime. A crime with a painful punishment.
This country and our courts have carved out several exceptions to the first amendment.
For example, it is against the law to yell "fire" in a crowded theater.
The courts have banned "obscenity" - whatever that is.
The first amendment doesn't protect so called "fighting words" or people who commit libel or slander.
Why, even hate speech which clearly, the 1st amendment was designed to protect, isn't entirely without restraint: for example, if you want to march outside the office of the Westboro Baptist Church - you know, those miscreants who make those horrible signs that say: "God Hates Fags" - you will likely need a permit, police protection, and you will have to agree to a time that your event will take place.
My point? Fuck you Texas Appeals Court.
Jon Hotchkiss is the creator of the new adults only comedy series, Get Sexxx Tonight, starring Kayden Kross, a clip of which you can see above. Want to see the series premiere? Click here.