Nude Protestor’s Right to Free Speech

A 50-year-old man who said he felt that airport screeners were “harassing” him stripped naked at Portland International Airport, police in Oregon said.

Police charged John E. Brennan with disorderly conduct and indecent exposure after he disrobed while going through the security screening area at the airport Tuesday evening.

“When interviewed about his actions, Mr. Brennan stated he fly’s (sic) a lot and had disrobed as a form of protest against TSA screeners who he felt were harassing him,” a police incident report said. – CNN

My wife and I had an interesting conversation about nude protestors. We both came to the same conclusion… if something is against the law, then it is not a valid form of ‘Free Speech’ as protected by the Bill of Rights. In addition, how far does Free Speech actually go? To speak in public, protected. To print something (print darn near anything), protected. To peaceably assemble, protected.

If someone smokes pot in public as a protest to the government’s ban of marijuana, that is breaking the law. Not protected.

If someone spray paints a message on a government building or vehicle, that is breaking the law even though it was written expression. Not protected.

If someone takes off their clothes at an airport where clothing is NOT OPTIONAL, that is against the rules. Not protected.

PETA has done some fairly aggressive naked protesting, but they normally find ways to adhere to the rules. It’s not the naked part… it’s the breaking the rules part.

If breaking the rules/laws to get attention if part of the Naked Protest agenda, fine. But it’s not Free Speech. Free Speech does not break the law. Even peacefully assembling in an area must respect a place’s fire exits and safety concerns.

Not breaking the law has a lot of power. Because when a person is not breaking the law while protesting and he or she gets assaulted by police… I REMEMBER THAT IMAGE!

I am liberal on some issues and conservative on others. I think on Free Speech I am conservative in the sense that I don’t think a protest should break the law. Even if I agree with what he or she is protesting against, I don’t remember a person’s message most of the time if the law is broken: I just remember the image of him being taken away in handcuffs.

What do you think?

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