An Oregon judge has acquitted a 50-year-old Oregon man who was charged with indecent exposure after stripping naked when asked to submit to a pat-down inspection. The judge ruled that stripping naked to protest his treatment by Transportation Security Administration was indeed a protected form of free speech.
According to The Oregonian, John E. Brennan was acquitted of an indecent exposure charge stemming from an April 17 incident where he stripped naked while standing at a security checkpoint line at Portland International Airport.
Prosecutors had argued that Brennan did not say it was a protest until they notified him that the police were on the way.
Brennan denies those claims, saying he stripped after airport screeners asked him to submit to a pat-down inspection. He then told the court, “I also was aware of the irony of taking off my clothes to protect my privacy.”
Brennan claims that his protest was done to show the TSA that he knew his rights and also to illustrate his beliefs that airport screening devices are already giving screeners a sneak peak.
“They’re getting as close to seeing us naked as they can. And we are upping the ante,” he said. “I wanted to show them it’s a two-way street. I don’t like naked pictures of me being available.”
Brennan’s complaints are nothing new for the TSA. The agency has been the subject of consumer objections, lawsuits and outrage since the nation drastically stepped up its screening procedures in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorism attacks. The complaints only got louder when the TSA began using machines that could see through clothing, prompting outrage such as that exhibited by Brennan.
But before you consider staging your own nude protest at your local airport, keep in mind that the ruling in Brennan’s case does not affect nudity laws in other jurisdictions.