Prurient Purposes Thwarted

How far does freedom really go?

The man with shoulder-length red hair stood by the sidewalk just north of Island Park Pool. In the muggy heat, he wore gray slacks and a silky, blue, long-sleeve shirt.

From his perch along First Avenue South, the man, who appeared to be in his 20s or 30s, could peer down on swimmers by the pool’s diving boards. He would look around, act like he was smoking and then snap a photo using a camera with a zoom lens.

Jed Felix said he witnessed all this on Monday afternoon. After watching the man surreptitiously take photos for a while, Felix confronted him and asked what he was doing. “He said he was just taking pictures and that he was an artist,” said Felix, 26, of Fargo. “He said it’s completely legal.”

Now, imagine the impending freakout--they're violating his rights.

Well, yes, but no. They've made this an issue of trespassing, which means he went somewhere that he wasn't welcome and he did something specific that violates the use of public property for personal or prurient reasons. This is not the sort of thing that would stand up in every court, but it does make sense when considering the safety of the public.

This is because the man in question, regardless of what he's wearing, is using technology (a camera) to violate the privacy of others. Should they get a search warrant and see what's on the camera? Would a judge sign off on that? Who knows? Your right to be a weirdo is guaranteed up and until the moment when you start taking telephoto lens photos of kids and women (which should be good enough to ban paparazzi, but oh well).

The  kicker in this whole article will appear briefly before your eyes:

One of the comments was from a woman who said she saw the same man taking photos of women in bikinis on Friday in Island Park.

“We watched as he set his camera on his lap and aim it at women in the park and then moments later look through the shots he just took,” she said in a post on her own Facebook site, which included a photo of the alleged photographer, a man with long red hair who looked like the man Felix encountered.

Felix said the man he approached would not tell him his name or show him the photos he’d taken.

“He was very calm during the entire thing like he knew that he was in the right,” Felix said. “He said that until it’s illegal, he’s going to keep doing it.”

Why didn't the man want to show a perfect stranger, a common citizen, what was on his camera? Because he doesn't have to. That's a matter for the courts. Short of that, using trespass laws to keep him out of public places is about the only recourse left to the community, which has rights as well. He's made up his mind to be an asshole. That's his right! Nobody else has to put up with that, though.

Don't be an asshole. You're ruining freedom for everyone else.