An Oregon judge ruled on Wednesday that stripping naked at the airport to protest the Transportation Security Administration is a protected form of free speech. In other words, if you're protesting the TSA it's OK to show a little T&A.
The Oregonian reports that 50-year-old John E. Brennan was acquitted of an indecent exposure charge stemming from an April 17 incident during which he took off his clothes while standing at a security checkpoint line at Portland International Airport.
"It is the speech itself that the state is seeking to punish, and that it cannot do," Circuit Judge David Rees said.
Prosecutors in the case argued that Brennan did not say to airport officials that it was a protest until after he had stripped and was told police were on their way to the scene.
Brennan says he stripped after airport screeners asked him to submit to a pat-down inspection.
"I also was aware of the irony of taking off my clothes to protect my privacy," he told the court.
However, Brennan's case doesn't affect nudity laws in other jurisdictions. But it's certainly possible that anyone conducting a similar nude airport protest in the future could cite his case as precedent.
For his part, Brennan said his nude protest was done to show the TSA "that I know my rights," and to illustrate his belief that airport screening devices are already exposing passengers—whether they know it or not.
"They're getting as close to seeing us naked as they can. And we are upping the ante," he told the court. "I wanted to show them it's a two-way street. I don't like a naked picture of me being available."
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