NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

March 7, 2014

Our view: 'Upskirt' decision lacks common sense

(Continued)

And the fact the trolley cars have security cameras is irrelevant unless the camera are mounted on the floor pointing up.

The decision is yet another example of the death of common sense in the higher courts.

There’s a simple reason the law did not specifically ban “upskirting.” It’s because it never would have occurred to anyone but a member of the SJC that it needed to be spelled out that it was wrong.

In days long gone, when people had a sense of decency and respect for others, someone caught shooting such photos would have been in for a horsewhipping or worse.

Of course, there are already calls to rewrite the anti-voyeur law or pass a new one forbidding upskirt photos.

“The ruling of the Supreme Judicial Court is contrary to the spirit of the current law,” House Speaker Robert DeLeo said. “The House will begin work on updating our statutes to conform with today’s technology immediately.”

Senate President Therese Murray said she was “stunned and disappointed” with the court ruling. She said the Senate will respond quickly.

In 1964, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously expressed that link to common sense that Botsford’s decision seems to lack. When attempting to qualify what constitutes hard-core pornography, Stewart said, “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it.”

Indeed, reasonable people can intuitively decipher what constitutes pornography, or invasive photos on a public transit car. New laws really shouldn’t be necessary.

But no doubt we will need even more of them, as new, more invasive technologies come on market to enable as yet unimagined outrages.

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