Nude TSA-Protesting Man Will Fight Charges Because as Campaign For Liberty and Rand Paul Put it: "the government literally has its hands in our pants."
As Brian Doherty noted below, a President Rand Paul in 2016 is not the most implausible of ideas. The next question is of course, do we have to wait four more years to nix this whole Transportation Security Agency (TSA) thing? Sen. Rand Paul had his own run-in with the TSA in January, but even before that the curly-mopped Kentuckian was not wild about the agency. He recently urged supporters to sign the Campaign for Liberty's petition to get rid of the TSA. Because, as a member of that campaign so beautifully put it, "the government literally has its hands down our pants."
It sometimes seems like Drudge and cable news have a TSA horror story every few days (grandmothers, the disabled, children, none will go unmolested. Also, your belt might explode.) yet people still support the security measures to a distressing degree. But there are always a few choice Americans who are fighting back in the best, most basic way they know how.
Take this naked guy from Oregon. Some misguided politics possibly implied, since the dude has also stripped naked to bikeride-protest against oil dependence, (or maybe he just likes getting naked?), but John E. Brennan declared in mid-April that he was "nude, but not lewd" when he took off his clothes at the security screening area of Portland International Airport. And he's sticking with that argument in court. "The most effective way to tell them I'm not carrying a bomb is take off my clothes," said Brennan who had previously complained about the TSA's treatment through his twitter account. And so, Brennan has just decided not to plead out on his charges of disorderly conduct and indecent exposure, the better to fight for Americans' freedom to go ungroped.
John E. Brennan had the option Wednesday morning of entering Multnomah County Circuit Court's community court program, which would allow his misdemeanor to be treated like a citation. He would be required to plead guilty. He also likely would be ordered to do community service and write an apology letter. But Brennan and his attorney, Michael E. Rose, told a judge that they wanted to go to trial.
"His (letter of) apology would be more of an explanation and so community court is simply not appropriate for him because he has said 'I didn't do anything wrong,'" Rose said, after the brief hearing.
Rose said one of two things will happen next: The district attorney's office will dismiss the charge or Brennan will go to trial, as early as mid-June.
"Community court is the easy way out," Rose said.
Brennan is charged with "indecent exposure," a Portland city ordinance that says it's unlawful for "any person to expose his or her genitalia while in a public place or place visible from a public place, if the public place is open and available to persons of the opposite sex." State law allows nudity—as long as it isn't done to sexually arouse oneself or others.
Only worrying about the emotional scars of the opposite sex from the nude person? That's pretty heterosexist, Portland law. And also stupidly broad because nudity is victimless. State law, if you're going to have a law about nudity at all, does seem much more sensible. Under state law it seems clear that a naked protest is not the same as a guy in a park trying to terrify your children or elderly relatives.
Though Paul has remained clothed while protesting the TSA, the Sen. may be more radical even than Brennan, who doesn't want to abolish the agency:
"(TSA screeners) have a delicate job. They have to balance safety in the skies, which I completely support, and our personal liberties; and right now, I think as the pendulum is swinging, it's swinging toward taking away our personal liberties and our constitutional rights," Brennan said.
On Monday, Brennan got through the security checkpoint at Sacramento International without any problems. He opted out of the full body scanner, but got through the process with his clothes on.
Brennan said he's done disrobing in airports; he doesn't want to end up on the no-fly list. He's now encouraging other passengers to know their rights.
"It's not my job to solve the problem; there are experts for that," Brennan said. "My job is to protect my rights and the rights of other people flying."
He's not exactly a libertarian patriot, he may like getting naked a little too much for the squeamish, but his generally cheerful stubornness and refusal to be cowed into saying he did something wrong is commendable, and that's something in the direction of liberty.