Friday, April 06, 2007

The Legal Limits of Looking

The Kuna High School girls basketball team is in town for a game at Bishop, and the Bishop Kelly High School boys are ready. A group of teenage boys excitedly cluster around an office window with a propitiously discrete view of the girls locker room. Or so they thought. Shortly after the girls begin changing into their uniforms, some of them notice the blinds on the window glancing open. They quickly dress and call their coach. Parents of the girls immediately call the police, who promptly arrest the boys, confiscate and search 13 cell phones, and begin a detailed investigation. The boys face up to five years on misdemeanor or felony charges of Voyeurism.

Voyeurism is a relatively recent addition to the growing list of "Don'ts" here in America. Criminal voyeurism includes any "use of mechanical or digital equipment to watch or record people in any place where they can reasonably expect privacy, which includes any place in which they are expected to be in a state of nudity." Many States have added new voyeurism laws in recent years, and the Sexual Offences Act 2003 imposes Federal sanctions.

What began as a simple harmless act that most of our parents engaged in as teenagers almost landed the BK boys in jail. Luckily, no incriminating pictures were found on any of their cell phones and police had to let them go. The school is still considering whether punitive measures are in order, but the larger issue is whether society really needs to be so highly regulated.

Most Americans buy into the myth of Law and Order because we have been spoon-fed this line since childhood. However, as John Hasnas points out in, "The Myth of the Rule of Law," Order doesn't necessarily equate with Law. There can be Law without Order and Order without Law.

But at a more elementary level, what harm has really been done here? If the boys went and raped the girls there would be a serious problem. But all they did was look. According to Boise Police, the girls were not naked at the time of the incident. Is this a free country? Come on, boys will be boys. And besides, it doesn't hurt to be looked at. Where is the harm? Stop being such a baby. If I was a 14-year-old basketball player and my mother called the police on the kids from the school I was playing against because they looked at me in the locker room, I'd die of embarrassment!

A side point - there were a group of girls dressing together in the locker room. They complain that boys peeked in , yet they all were free to look at each other. Why is this not sex-based discrimination?

with information from
Patrick Orr, The Idaho Statesman, Boise

A 19 year old lifeguard was also charged with photographing a woman at the swimming pool where he worked.


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Mad About The Boy said...

Hiya Teddy - I do enjoy reading your blog and this posting makes me quite mad (the content and not your posting LOL).

It is ridiculous that something as innocent as peeking in that way should cause such as fuss. As you might say, "grow up folks".

Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

I do not agree with you, there is such a thing that people are intitled to and that is PRIVACY. That means that if I want to get undressed or urinate I shouldn't have to worry that sick and horny individuals are peeping in on me. Let's put it this way, how would you like it if your mother went into your room and examined every drawer and closet and book you owned, plus your diary and lap top and pornographic magazines. And don't you dare compare the SICK society of today with years ago. Times have changed and rules and regulations have to change with them honey.

Teddy Douglas said...

Whoa, Anonymous. First, thanks for the reply. You make a good point about privacy, and it does have its place. I think we really need to be careful though, not to take it too far. Maybe the boys should get a slap on the wrist for peeping. But not five years in prison for taking a picture (more than we give for burglary).

You don't want to have to "worry that sick and horny individuals are peeping". Why do sick and horny go together? One can be one without the other. Furthermore, why does one person's horniness extend another person's right to privacy beyond its normal bounds? In normal society, the exterior of your person is not private. That is, I can look at you with impunity as you walk down the street. (As one of my old teacher's used to say, "You're face is a public thoroughfare," meaning, "smile, your inner grief needn't be my sorrow too). You argue that this is different once people take their clothes off because looking in this case may make others desirous of sex. Is that right?

But really, nothing has changed about your privacy rights because others enjoy looking. The feelings of the people who watch do not entitle you to more privacy than before.

Also, does it HURT you to be "peeped on"? That is what I don't get about this whole thing. I'll be naked in the gym showers in about 2 hours. You can come watch. You cannot touch. This way, I'll be safe and unharmed.

Thanks, MATB.

Anonymous said...

Look at this guy Imus, he utters a few words and boom, he is fired. this shows that there are limits on what you can say,do, and yes, PEEP at. You may welcome people to come and peep at you in shower, but most people want and need their privacy. It is pathetic that we have to use such punitive methods of punnishment, but this is what works in today's depraved society.