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Georgia loophole takes privacy from skirts

Posted on August 10, 2016 by Taber Times

The issue of what women wear is not anything new. Media of late has been bringing up story after story of unfair dress codes in high schools for years.

A woman went viral when she began dressing up in costumes to work after her boss banned her from wearing a hair wrap, and after she lodged a complaint against him with HR, actually crafted a dress code that explicitly banned hair wraps of any kind. Kansas Sen. Mitch Holmes introduced a dress code in January for witnesses that scrutinizes the length of women’s skirts, but made no mention about what men may or may not wear.

Meteorologist Liberté Chan was given a sweater to cover herself up when viewers complained that she dared to go on air in a beaded spaghetti-strapped dress, and, more recently, so was Fox News’ Megyn Kelly when she wore a thin strapped dress to cover the Republican National Convention.

For whatever reason, society seems incapable of believing that a woman can dress herself appropriately without being policed. But now, they can’t wear skirts in Georgia, all because of a technicality.

You see, the Georgia Court of Appeals has overturned the conviction of Brandon Lee Gary, who had been charged with invasion of privacy when he was caught by a security camera in a grocery store, his place of work at the time, upskirting a customer as he helped her.

For those unfamiliar with the phrase, upskirting is when someone takes a recording device and angles it so it takes photos or video up someone’s skirt, effectively recording her crotch.

Needless to say, it is not an unreasonable or novel idea, that a woman should be able to go about her day without worrying about someone taking pictures up her skirt.

The appeals court however, doesn’t think so. In a 6-3 decision, they said that while his behaviour was outrageous, Gary did not violate the state’s invasion of privacy law.

Currently, Georgia law states that it is illegal for “[a]ny person, through the use of any device, without the consent of all persons observed, to observe, photograph, or record the activities of another which occur in any private place and out of public view.”

Gary’s argument was the women was in a public place, so how could she possibly expect privacy?

The ruling stated that, while she was entitled to privacy of some kind, “The question before this Court, however, is not whether the defendant’s conduct was offensive; it is not whether a person walking in a public place has a reasonable expectation of privacy as to certain areas of her body; and it is not whether the victim’s privacy was violated.”

The ruling continued, saying that although it was “regrettable” that the law didn’t cover Gary’s actions, “The remedy for this problem, however, lies with the General Assembly, not with this Court.”

But the Georgia government won’t be able to make such moves until the next session for the General Assembly, which isn’t scheduled until the beginning of 2017.

So for the next few months, perverts are free across Georgia to stick their phone up someones skirt and take a picture.

While other states across the U.S. scrambled to make it clear that there were no such loopholes in their laws, in a state where 30 degrees Celcius is a nice summer day, upskirting is legal.

Some of you reading might wonder why this is such a big deal. A guy takes a picture, so what? Surely these people have better thing to do then try to sneak a camera between an unsuspecting women’s legs and take a picture.

Here is why it’s a big deal; these pictures are now perfectly legal to take in the public domain. They do not require permission, and can be taken anywhere outside of a private residence. Pervert A can take a picture, and upload it to social media for all his friends to see.

Pervert B through Z can like it, share it and republish it however many times they want, and if the unsuspecting woman gets wind of it, it’s too late. It’s already out there, and it’s legal.

Worse yet, there has already been a case where it’s been used as a form of intimidation and harassment.

In Port Wentforth, Georgia, a council woman has filed a sexual harassment suit against fellow council members and lodged a complaint against the city, alleging that an that an upskirt photo of her, posted on Facebook by non-council member Eric Steely who claims he did not take the photo, was taken during a closed session — during which members of the public cannot attend and there is no formal record — and it was taken by another member of council.

In her complaint, Debbie Johnson says she has experienced racial discrimination since she was elected in 2014 as the first African-American on an all-white, male council, although another woman is shown to be a councillor today, according to the city’s website.

She says that several current and former council members, including the mayor Glenn Jones, are Facebook friends with Steely, and they saw the picture and did not notify her.

While the photo has since been taken down, Steely freely admits that he posted it, he didn’t take it, was told it was taken during an open meeting and would not name who did take it, and has been quoted saying, “I couldn’t care less about her complaint,” and “As far as I’m concerned, she wanted to get in this game – this is how it’s played.”

As for Mayor Jones, he said he was as “disgusted” and “appalled”, although he swore he did not take the photo as it “crossed the line”, he also said that “hindsight is 20/20,” when asked about why he didnot inform Johnson about the photo.

It does seem likely that another council member upskirted her, as while during open council sessions, the bench that council is seated at has a bar that blocks them from the shin up, and the public is not allowed in closed session meetings.

The fact that this story involves those who are elected to represent is disturbing. As stated before, everyone should be able to go about their day without the fear of looking down and seeing a camera between their legs.

But until Georgia officials get their act together and fix the loophole, you can bet that a lot more women will forgo wearing skirts in favour of pants.

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