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Opening Arguments

The breast of times

Clearly, this story is too good to pass up, but I'm not quite sure whether to be serious or take the frivolous route:

A girl accused of exposing her breasts on an Indianapolis street cannot argue that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution gives her the freedom to do it, the state's appeals court ruled today.

Indianapolis metropolitan police on June 16, 2009, responded to a report of three females exposing themselves to passing vehicles.

One of the three, a 16-year-old Indianapolis girl who is identified only by initials in court documents, could have been charged with a misdemeanor charge of public nudity if she were 18 or older and classified as an adult.

The 14th Amendment's equal protection clause says no state "shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Let's try serious. Some 14th Amendement cases are pretty clear one way or the other. If you treat blacks and whites differently under the same circumstances, that's an obvious violation. But giving an art-critic's job to a sighted man instead of a blind one isn't. This case is at least debatable, it seems to me.

The judge bases his ruling on the difference between male and femal erogenous zones:

In the appeals court decision, Judge Cale Bradford wrote, "In the end, (the girl) would have us declare by judicial fiat that the public display of fully-uncovered female breasts is no different than the public display of male breasts, when the citizens of Indiana, speaking through their elected representatives, say otherwise. This we will not do.

"We conclude that Indiana's public nudity statute furthers the goal of protecting the moral sensibilities of that substantial portion of Hoosiers who do not wish to be exposed to erogenous zones in public."

Female breasts = erogenous zones, male breasts=not so much (rumor has it the ladies much prefer our butts). I think most people would agree with that. The question is why that is so. The girl in the case says it's because of a "vague notion of public or moral sensibilities." The advocacy site gotopless.org (I hate to say it in this context, but nsfw) thinks it's "a sexual impulse," that "can easily be controlled in the same way men control themselves when they see a woman wearing a mini skirt or revealing ample cleavage." Along the same lines, Doug Masson at Masson's Blog thinks it's arbitrary and irrational in the same the way we deem some "swear words" bad with no rhyme or reason, and if  "female breasts were on display 24/7, I'm pretty sure the offense and unease would disappear."

Well, yes, but that's a big if. We're not a bunch of tribal wanderers ready for the pages of National Geographic. Even if all the laws were eliminated, we'd have, at most, occasional nudity here and there, which means the female breast would retain its power to cloud men's minds. Furthermore, what if the difference in erogenous zones is not a matter of social convention but a biological imperative connected with our drive to reproduce the species? What does that do to the argument?

Oh, I can't stand it anymore. The girl and the judge are quite a pair, aren't they? He may be a boob, but he should definitely bust her. He should at least jug her, if not put her on the rack. You don't need headlights to see where I'm coming from, do you? Well, speak up, something wrong with those lungs?

Ta ta.


Fri, 09/17/2010 - 11:45am

I'm too much of a juvenile to take the serious route on this case. Interesting take on "erogenous zone." I take the term to mean an area of the body that gets the particular person revved up. It looks like you take the term to mean an area of someone else's body that gets another person revved up.

Leo Morris
Fri, 09/17/2010 - 12:34pm

The true erogenous zone is the one that the exploration of would exicte both . . . oh, excuse me, while I go take a cold shower.