Image from the backscatter advanced imaging technology (AIT) machine used by the TSA to screen passengers. This is what the remote TSA agent would see on their screen. By US Transportation Security Administration part of U.S. Department of Homeland Security [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Image from the backscatter advanced imaging technology (AIT) machine used by the TSA to screen passengers. This is what the remote TSA agent would see on their screen.
By US Transportation Security Administration part of U.S. Department of Homeland Security [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I’m finally in tune with a judgment made about free speech.  Too many times, it’s restricted or otherwise cut in the name of “safety,” especially when it comes to airports.

But on July 19, a man in Oregon was cleared of indecent exposure charges after he’d gotten naked to go through a security checkpoint when a judge decreed that it did, indeed, count as free speech because it was being done as a protest.

The man had been going through security and didn’t want to go through the “nude scanner” so he opted for a pat-down.  The security guard who did the pat-down found traces of nitrates on his gloves after the pat-down.  At that point, the man was so frustrated that he decided that the whole thing had moved beyond absurd and that, since they wanted to see him “naked,” he might as well go whole hog and stripped off and went through the checkpoint.

The judge determined that it was protest, and that the charges would have punished him for “speaking,” so they were dropped.

This is a great reminder that the TSA cannot restrict free speech (as long as it’s not threatening).  If you fly, you’re welcome to wear slogans on shirts or even put them on your bag.  So copying out the Fourth Amendment, as one flier did, is legal, as long as you don’t do it in a threatening way.  Even so, I would personally expect them to try to file charges and need to fight it.

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