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washington state anti-voyeurism law and 1st amendment photos

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  • Independent
    Seattle, WA
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    I have a question for people who wish to think about the 1st amendment and anti-voyeurism laws such as those in Washinton state.

    A number of years ago, there were one or two fellow who were convicted of voyeurism in Washington state because they had taken some upskirt photos of gals. They then appealed and said that the existing law did not criminalize photos taken in public. The Wash state Supreme court sided with them and then the legislature changed the law. The newer law, in Wash state, as of about 2003, forbids taking photos of underwear or a intimate body part, even in public, if the wearer/person being photographed has an expectation of privacy and if the photo is taken for a sexual purpose.

    It seems to me as if the law would tend to cut into a broad swath of what should be constitutionally protected. I do not mean the photos which are done by a fellow positioning his cell phone on the ground while tying his shoe. I mean the following:

    photos of Kate Middleton's butt or panties such as have been in the news for the last few years, when wind or circumstances caused her skirt to be lifted;
    photos of panties or butt of a cheerleader while she is being thrown into the air;
    photos of Janet Jackson's breast after her wardrobe malfunction;
    photos of panties and/or crotch of dozens of celebrities taken every week in California when Lindsay Lohan or Katy Perry or a dozen other female celebrities get out of a car . . .
    photos of Marilyn Monroe's underwear when she walked over an air vent . . .

    It seems to me as if all of these types of photos, all of which are commonly, generally accepted as legitimate expressions of art and photography could easily be criminalized by statutes identical or similar to the one in Washington state, and that all it takes is the mere assertion that such photos have a sexual intent or purpose and it would chill or destroy meaningful and interesting photos of art.

    Is there a constitutional problem here? It seems to me as if there is.
  • Liberal
    Independent
    Durham, NH
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    One would do a lot more for the country by pointing out the ridiculesness of the Second amendment and so called right to carry laws that encourage psychologically unstable people to walk around in public with weapons rather than worrying about up skirt perverts (IMHO)!
  • Democrat
    Oregon
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    zaiteff Wrote: I have a question for people who wish to think about the 1st amendment and anti-voyeurism laws such as those in Washinton state.

    A number of years ago, there were one or two fellow who were convicted of voyeurism in Washington state because they had taken some upskirt photos of gals. They then appealed and said that the existing law did not criminalize photos taken in public. The Wash state Supreme court sided with them and then the legislature changed the law. The newer law, in Wash state, as of about 2003, forbids taking photos of underwear or a intimate body part, even in public, if the wearer/person being photographed has an expectation of privacy and if the photo is taken for a sexual purpose.

    It seems to me as if the law would tend to cut into a broad swath of what should be constitutionally protected. I do not mean the photos which are done by a fellow positioning his cell phone on the ground while tying his shoe. I mean the following:

    photos of Kate Middleton's butt or panties such as have been in the news for the last few years, when wind or circumstances caused her skirt to be lifted;
    photos of panties or butt of a cheerleader while she is being thrown into the air;
    photos of Janet Jackson's breast after her wardrobe malfunction;
    photos of panties and/or crotch of dozens of celebrities taken every week in California when Lindsay Lohan or Katy Perry or a dozen other female celebrities get out of a car . . .
    photos of Marilyn Monroe's underwear when she walked over an air vent . . .

    It seems to me as if all of these types of photos, all of which are commonly, generally accepted as legitimate expressions of art and photography could easily be criminalized by statutes identical or similar to the one in Washington state, and that all it takes is the mere assertion that such photos have a sexual intent or purpose and it would chill or destroy meaningful and interesting photos of art.

    Is there a constitutional problem here? It seems to me as if there is.


    I think the example of Kate Middleton would fit into this law. Because there are people following her and other celebrities around, just waiting to get those pics.
    - The cheerleader, not so much, because they knowingly wear those outfits and know they will be thrown into the air and know people will see their underwear. I don't think people should just try to purposely get those kind of shots, but sometimes they just happen on accident.
    - Janet Jackson's malfunction, if I remember correctly, was "an accident" and most people just took screen shots of the live video playback.
    - The case of celebrities getting out of cars would probably fall into this category of illegal, assuming people are sitting there, trying to get a photo of specifically their lady parts. I know of one or two celebrities who seem to have been showing it off on purpose.
    - Monroe, being that it was very much on purpose, I think it wouldn't count.