Improper Photography?

A friend posted a link to a story in West Texas where a guy was arrested under a fairly recent Texas statute (passed this decade) regarding “Indecent Photography”.

The article is here:  Man Charged with Secretly Photographing Women, Kids

My objections do not have to do with the speciifics of THAT case. So in fairness, you’ve been warned, and if anyone bothers to drop by and argue why that individual is really and truly a died in the wool pervert, I will suggest a remedial reading course for them. There are plenty of bad laws that CAN be put to good use… the problem is that if a law is witten in a way that it could be easily interpreted to be used to arrest people that are doing nothing wrong… it is a bad idea.

The law in question is as follows:

§ 21.15. IMPROPER PHOTOGRAPHY OR VISUAL RECORDING.
(a) In this section, “promote” has the meaning assigned by Section 43.21.
(b) A person commits an offense if the person:

  • (1) photographs or by videotape or other electronic means visually records another:
    • (A) without the other person’s consent; and
    • (B) with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person; or
  • (2) knowing the character and content of the photograph or recording, promotes a photograph or visual recording described by Subdivision (1).

(c) An offense under this section is a state jail felony.
(d) If conduct that constitutes an offense under this section also constitutes an offense under any other law, the actor may be prosecuted under this section or the other law.

Having read the statute he’s charged with and seen it misapplied by an officer in my own town (see http://dallas.org/node/88) … the law itself scares me more than any photographer. In the Southlake case the county prosecutor was smart enough to refuse to prosecute, but the Southlake Police spokesperson had already released the man’s name and town of residence and pretty much publicly branded him as a pervert for taking photographs at a public event.

dallas-cowboys-cheerleader

Try running onto the field at Cowboy stadium to get consent before taking a picture of one of the babes they put onto the field. [HINT: Won’t be easy, but it’ll be MUCH easier than taking a picture of their cheerleaders which *cant* be perceived as “arousing”.]

Seriously… the law includes photos taken “with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of ANY person.”

I don’t know how they can prove intent in this case, but I grew up in a good Baptist environment, and frankly at a certain age half the Sears catalog was “arousing”. All it would’ve required to put any guy I knew in jail would be for the picture to include a female, and it automatically fit this statute. Our high school yearbook photographer coulda been jailed for life.

HATE it when I agree with the ACLU, but the law is bad. If limited it to those in a position to expect privacy ( a dressing room or bathroom) I see use. Photographing someone in public wearing what they put on to go out should be ok.

There are those that’d argue the law is intended to combat pervs that’d take pictures serrupticiously in a bathroom or dressing room and publish them on the net. Well, a law that combats that is a great idea… this just isnt it. This could be interpreted to include any shot of a bikini clad girl at a beach.

[Note to self: Print up consent forms next time you go to Padre.]

Personally I find the majority of photos taken of me are embarrassing regardless of what I’m wearing, but that’s just because they tend to provide very graphic proof I’m not *really* still the same age as I act. There’s a little cognitive dissonance in play.

Still, pictures of people dressed in what they put on to go out in public have never been a problem before. My thought is if somebody can take a photo of you in public that’s worthy of a felony charge… you seriously oughta rethink your wardrobe choices.

I'm Rob Jones... and I approve this message.
I'm Rob Jones... and I approve this message.