Post Classifieds

Criminalizing body parts is not Constitutional

By John Nitowski
On February 19, 2013

Are you a man or a woman? If yes, this may interest you.
In Asheville, N.C., the second annual topless protest and women's rally was held last August. State Rep. Rayne Brown (R), instead of just watching the protest (an act guaranteed in the First Amendment), and possibly learning something, Brown decided that he couldn't stand the sight of a naked breast and demanded those nipples be criminalized.
That's right, if Brown's House Bill 34 passes, then women who expose an "errant areola" could face up to six months in prison. But for "more mundane" exposure, women would only have to face 30 days or so in the slammer. The only exception is breastfeeding. That's not very nice.
Brown annoys me because breasts are a body part, and I believe women should feel comfortable and in control of their own bodies. They should feel free, in warm weather, to remove whatever articles they so choose to remove. It's a breast. Seriously. I don't find anything offensive about their presence, existence or appearance. Why get your legalities in a bunch over something about half the human population has?
I find myself wondering why I find Brown intriguing. Perhaps it's because he is so offended by nipples that he is doing his best to criminalize their existence. Brown is so offended by two women's body parts that he wants to put them in prison just for having them.
See, I understand politicians wanting us to keep our pants on in public. I'm not really interested in seeing junk of any kind around the streets. But there are plenty of men walking around our streets without shirts on. Many of them probably should be wearing shirts. But would they go to prison if Brown's law passes? No.
In addition to being sexist, House Bill 34 is simply illegal. The First Amendment, listing all the free expressions that we as American citizens are guaranteed. But it brings up a curious paradox: is it fine for women protest with exposed breasts since that right is protected under the First Amendment, but undressing in public for non-protesting purposes is banned? Why not just be protesting all of the time? Or what about the deaf and mute? Is sign language - systemized body language - protected under free expression? And if so (it is) why would breasts be discounted from Free Expression?
The law exists in North Carolina. Why should we care? Because laws anywhere in the United States set precedents everywhere in the United States. The government already tells you what you can and can't smoke, where you can and can't drive, where you can and can't live, who you can and can't marry, among many other different laws and regulations of social behavior. Ladies, do you want the government to tell you what you can and can't wear? Gentlemen, do you want the government telling you what you can and can't wear? No. I don't think any of us want that.
On the frightening chance that HB34 passes, Rep. Annie Mobley (D) is worried that women might be penalized for wearing "questionable fashions." To which Republican Rep. Tim Moore responded, "You know what they say - duct tape fixes everything."
That's the North Carolina Republican answer to women on a chilly day: it's your responsibility, not ours.
What kind of country is this? I feel like I'm living in a bizarre dream where the War on Women is moving north. The target is no longer the magical ovaries that can reject sperm during an illegitimate rape, but nipples that are apparently corrupting influences in our youth.
Is that the issue? Maybe if we stopped forbidding so much fruit, they wouldn't taste so sweet to the eyes of youngsters. It's just a breast. They're great. But they're not worth six months in prison. Calm down, Rep. Brown.  

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