So let me get this straight; In Massachusetts, if a woman is nude or partially nude and you take a picture of her without her knowledge, it’s a crime.  Sounds simple.  She has an expectation of a right to privacy.  What seems to be confusing is trying to determine when she gives up her right to privacy.  If she is out in public and is fully dressed, one would assume that she has dressed to defend and communicate her claim to her right to privacy.  In Massachusetts, one would have assumed wrong.

Dressed for picture day...

Dressed for picture day…

Okay, so if a woman with exhibitionist tendencies exposes her peccadilloes in the public square, one must assume that she forgoes her right to privacy.  Why do we reason that if she is fully dressed in public, she also forgoes that right?  If she’s in her back yard, It’s illegal to snap a shot of Miss Godiva, whether she cares or not.  However, if she’s a bit more demure, shoving your camera between her legs on the MTBA and catching a glimpse of her personality is hunky-dory.  If she’s trying to be modest and cover up, well then, just be a little creative with your camera angles and have at it.   So sayeth the legal geniuses on the bench in the bay state.  You see, they vomited all over common sense because of the wording of the law which happens to speak only of nude or partially nude persons.  As they described their concern to the Boston Globe, the law:

 “does not apply to photographing (or videotaping or electronically surveilling) persons who are fully clothed and, in particular, does not reach the type of upskirting that the defendant is charged with attempting to accomplish on the MBTA.

“In sum, we interpret the phrase, ‘a person who is … partially nude’ in the same way that the defendant does, namely, to mean a person who is partially clothed, but who has one or more of the private parts of body exposed in plain view at the time that the putative defendant secretly photographs her. A female passenger on a MBTA trolley who is wearing a skirt, dress, or the like covering these parts of her body is not a person who is ‘partially nude,’ no matter what is or is not underneath the skirt by way of underwear or other clothing,” the court ruled.

How quaint.  For the time being in Massachusetts, until the legislature acts to correct the law (I thought you couldn’t fix stupid?), feel free to sit across from all the young ladies riding the MTBA trains and busses and snap away.  They certainly don’t have any right to the privacy of their panties says the court.  Even if they have attempted to cover their inviting frillies with a skirt.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m pretty big on judges acting to uphold the laws as written and not legislate from the bench.  Usually, it gets my goat when some unelected official of the court decides he should have been a law maker and makes up a new right or a new class of victims out of whole cloth and vacates a law or changes the meaning entirely, far from the goal or the intention of the legislative branch.  Look at how the courts and the legal system in Massachusetts choose to interpret laws already on the books concerning immigration, EBT fraud or drunk driving.  But good God man, I’ve always assumed that we could apply a little common sense here.  If a woman needs to have a law explicitly detailing where, when and under what circumstances she has a right to her privacy and dignity, we’re in deep doo-doo.  It’s not like the defendant was doing a portfolio of stills entitled “life on the MTBA” and inadvertently photo-bombed himself with a wayward thong.  Or two.  Or ten.  Or however many this yahoo had in his possession.  This guy, like all the other pervs out there who for some strange reason get their jollies from the slightest peek-of-the-panties, was making a determined effort to invade these women’s privacy; not “partially-clothed” women, not “nude” women.  Women who were dressed to cover their bodies and by doing so (the act of dressing), were making it very clear to everyone that they expected a right to their privacy regardless of what the supreme court of assholechusetts says.  At no time, in no way does a woman give you the implied right to stick your camera up under her skirt, anywhere, for any reason, flawed law or not.  Wouldn’t common sense just apply here?

Where does it go from here?  What new law will fix this problem?  Will it need to detail just how long a skirt can be before she gives up her right to privacy?  What if she has panty lines that are visible?  Does that mean you can hunt for a better shot if she has already displayed some portion or slight hint of her undergarments?  What if she happens to have her skirt accidentally ride up a little higher than she expected when she sits or moves and briefly shows her underwear?  Are you justified in taking your pervy-pic then?

Don’t laugh this off.  If we need a law to tell us that it is illegal, never mind disturbing, to photograph up a woman’s skirt, than you can be sure that somewhere, some diseased pervert and his accompanying defense attorney are going to challenge it with some equivocation, some omission, some freakin’ typo or grammatical error and we’ll be right back where we are.  Soon, women will be wearing nothing but slacks out in public or sitting with their legs locked firmly together, knee-to-knee, not because we can’t all discern what the perv was trying to accomplish but because the Supreme Court justices couldn’t quite figure out what the law was meant to do.

The Governor is expected to sign the updated law into effect today.  How long will it be before it’s challenged?  Perv Michael Robertson and his gutter dwelling lawyer Michelle Menkin, who probably doesn’t need to ride the “T” and as a woman, obviously sees no right to her own privacy, will likely make headlines again when Mr. Robertson continues his disturbing hobby.

Of course if he walks again, we’ll all shake our heads and say “there ought’ a be a law…”