Upskirt shots in a free society?

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Christopher Cleveland, a Virginia man, was arrested at the Lincoln Memorial for taking photographs up women’s skirts. The female judge threw the case out because she said that women should have no expectation of privacy in a public place.

Voyeurism is pretty foul behavior, but the judge has a point. Though creepy and largely considered immoral, but to rule that it is illegal would be a slippery slope. What are you allowed to take pictures of in public? What does intent have to do with it? What if someone inadvertently takes an embarrassing photograph of a woman? How does this apply to someone without a camera who is just looking?

This is Catch-22 of public property and a system of monopolized law. (I’ve written about the issue of the Catch-22 regarding profiling here.) If all property were private, then the property owner sets the rules. Any pervert who “allows” voyeurism and behavior like this is not likely to be well-received by the rest of the community. Their business and relationships would suffer as a result.

Now of course this doesn’t completely solve the problem. It’s perfectly fair for a woman to expect to not to have someone taking pictures up her skirt (no matter how short it is), so they might be surprised to find out that sort of behavior is “allowed” where they are. The best thing to do would be to publicly identify these people who engage in and allow voyeurism and ostracize them from the rest of the community.

But let’s say that some people are really angry–say the woman’s father/son/brother/husband/boyfriend/etc doesn’t think that declaring upskirt shots on your property is okay. What happens if he goes after the guy taking the pictures (or the property owner who allows it)? Since we’re in a world of no government, he calls up his rights defense organization to protect him. However, since voyeurism is something that would be considered “high risk” behavior (and just plain disgusting), it’s not likely to be a behavior that the rights defense organization would be contractually obligated to cover, so they don’t protect the man (and the man should know that he wasn’t covered for this anyway). So he’s in for a lot of trouble.

But what if he lies when he calls them and says that he’s being robbed or something else that his rights defense organization would be required to cover? Obviously, that would be fraud, so upon discovering this, they would be well within their rights to sue him. Furthermore, his rates would increase fairly significantly–if they didn’t just flat out refuse to do business with him–since his behavior would require protective services more frequently than normal customers. And that information would be shared with other rights defense organizations so it’s not as though he could jump to another agency without any issue.

So it would be potentially very expensive financially and physically to engage in this type of behavior in a free society.