Friday, March 26, 2004

Rights and Reason: Court Affirms Nipple Piercing Conviction

Heaven save us from an exposed mammary. Consider this case:

The state Court of Appeals has affirmed the conviction of an Albuquerque shop owner who offered free nipple piercing if customers underwent the procedure in the store's window.

In 2002, Renee Sachs was convicted of violating Albuquerque's ordinance banning nudity in a public place. She received a 90-day deferred sentence.

In a 3-0 ruling Tuesday, the Appeals Court also upheld the constitutionality of the city's public nudity ban.

Sachs' attorney, Jeffrey Dempsey of Albuquerque, said his client would continue with her legal challenge by asking the court to rehear the case or petition the state Supreme Court to review the ruling.

Sachs ran an advertisement two years ago promoting the free nipple piercing. The first customer to undergo the procedure in the shop's window was a man and the second was a woman.

When police arrived at the tattoo and body piercing shop, a woman was sitting in the window exposing her breasts as she had her nipples pierced. Several people on the sidewalk were watching.

Sachs was convicted of violating the city's ordinance that bans nudity in public and prohibits store owners from allowing people to be nude in a public place of business.

The Appeals Court ruled that the ordinance did not violate the Equal Rights Amendment of the New Mexico Constitution or the state's Human Rights Act, which prohibits gender-based discrimination.

In her appeal, Sachs contended that the ordinance was unconstitutional because it discriminated against women by prohibiting the public exposure of a female breast but not a male breast. She also argued that the ordinance forced her to offer body piercing services in a way that discriminated on the basis of sex.

The court disagreed.

"The city ordinance does not prohibit public nudity of women while allowing public nudity by men," the court said in an opinion written by Judge Michael Vigil. "It recognizes that females and males have different anatomies, so the objective is accomplished in a nondiscriminatory manner." [AP]
A naked human body is not pornographic--it is a metaphysical given. Only property holders have a right to establish anti-nudity prohibitions for their property. The government has no more right to demand its citizens wear clothes than it does to demand that its citizens wear plaid.

But yet again, the courts have affirmed an illogical and senseless prohibition on conduct that is completely the province of the individual.

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