Judge frees nude TSA protester, citing free speech rights
Oregonian 'genitalia' law trumped by First Amendment
The techie who stripped naked to protest invasive airport security, saying he was sick and tired of being harassed by Transportation Security Administration screeners, has been cleared of all charges.
"It is the speech itself that the state is seeking to punish, and that it cannot do," said Judge David Rees when dismissing charges against 50-year-old John Brennan, reports The Oregonian.
The exercise of free speech in the raw
(source: Brian Reilly via KOMOnews)
As The Reg reported when Brennan was busted for disorderly conduct and indecent exposure this April, the mildly pudgy but finely bearded lover of liberty was being screened before a flight from Portland, Oregon, to San Jose, California, when he decided that he had had it up to here with TSA intrusiveness.
In protest, he stripped down to all but his glasses, to the consternation of some of his fellow screenees and the amusement of others. After refusing to put his clothes back on and be a compliant citizen, Brennan was arrested, hauled off to the hoosegow, and held on $4,000 bail.
During Brennan's trial on Wednesday, the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office argued that Brennan had violated the city ordinance forbidding the exposure of one's genitalia to the opposite sex.
The Reg pauses this saga for a moment to point out that the fine, liberal-minded city of Portland hosts an annual "Naked Bike Ride", during which up to 10,000 happy nudies violate that ordinance in festive fashion.
Judge Rees didn't buy the DA's argument, and instead accepted Brennan's assertion that his trou-dropping was a legitimate act of protest, protected by his inalienable right of free speech.
As his supporters cheered the verdict, one friend stuck a Post-it Note on Brennan's chest. On it was written "Sir Godiva", thus linking the now-exonerated and fully clothed protester with another defender of justice who stood up and stripped down for good cause. ®
What nerve, I say you should...wait a minute, ahhh I see, you making a joke, right? Clever.
Or not, frankly. Make light of it if you will, I wish more people, including myself, had the balls to stand up to the establishment because those fuckers are getting out of control. I wish I was at the airport with him to applaud and be disgusted and offended by the unlawfulness of our government's acts and not with this man's genitalia. And having some plain ole ugly dude do it in protest, just adds to the validity of his point. Kudos to the judge for seeing things quite clear, too.
Politeness does not help if you are not American.
For me it starts long before I even get to TSA. Every time since about 2007 that I have travelled in or from the US I have had the dubious pleasure of "SSSS" being stamped on my boarding card. When I asked why I was told "it's random". If only I had six numbers from the lottery with such regularity. For those left to have the pleasure, "SSSS" is shorthand for "mandatory crevice search" (well, not quite, I think it means "non-US person, so make sure you rough him up a bit"). The randomness of it was confirmed on my last trip when I looked in the "special" line to see me and a bunch of Mexicans, two Asians, and another European. Hmmm, entirely random.
Of course once branded one has to give everything to TSA, who usually force you to turn away from your belongings whilst you are turned over. Turning around to make sure nobody has just lifted your wallet/laptop/whatever gets a severe reprimand. After eight successive SSSS experiences I opted to put the lot in the hold, and had nothing but my passport and a newspaper. That precipitated long and laborious conversations about where my bags where, essentially calling me a liar for not having hand baggage. Explaining "it's because this happens every time" didn't go down too well. After that, I have refused to fly to, or visit, the US again. Not that the US will care about that, but it hardly makes it Land of the Free.
now we just need a wave of this to go through our airports nationwide, and maybe our Federal government would get a clue and realize that we citizens don't like being treated like convicted felons when we want to get on an airplane. Especially not by lowly-paid jerks in the TSA.