Thursday, April 10, 2008

No Lady Godiva's In Harvard Square

Via Adam at Universal Hub, we have a story of the Massachusetts State Supreme Court hearing the case of Ria Ora who was arrested for dancing nude in Harvard Square in a political protest:

Ria Ora was arrested on June 25 (the anti-Christmas?), 2005 on charges of "open and gross lewdness."

A lower court had ruled the arrest unconstitutional. In its decision, the Supreme Judicial Court agreed that people do have a right to take all their clothes down, but only if their displays are not "imposed upon an unsuspecting or unwilling audience" (so strip clubs are OK).

In its arguments before the court, the state argued that employees of the kiosk in Harvard Square expressed "shock and alarm" when they called police to report the woman. And when justices asked how Ora's anti-Christmas protest was different from Lady Godiva's political ride, the assistant attorney general arguing the case said the difference was that everybody in the town knew Lady Godiva would be taking her ride and everybody averted their eyes except for that one Peeping Tom.

Mmmm. I can think of some ads on the sides of T Buses that are imposed on unsuspecting and unwilling audiences all the time. Come to think of it, I also can think of terrible architecture, and godawful street musicians that have been imposed on unsuspecting and unwilling audiences.

Some bad theatre that people actually pay for could fall under that category as well. I mean just because I purchased a ticket for it, doesn't mean that I am suspecting it or willing to see it.

Jeez, what's the address of that strip club?


Ian Thal said...

What about adspace on the MBTA (a state agency) promoting specific churches. Is that an unwanted infringement of my First Amendment Freedoms (since I am a captive audience using a public facility) and seperation of Church and State? After all, the courts already determined that schools cannot mandate the Pledge of Allegience due to the "under God" clause.

The question in the Ria Ora case, of course, would revolve around whether said nudity could be reasonably interpreted as not being lewd-- and the court apparently determined that it wasn't.

Ian Thal said...

Pardon me, I seem to have misread how the court decided with regards to the specifics of the case in question. The lower court said one thing, the SJC said something different.