A Waste of Legislative Energy

…and a potential First Amendment violation.  Especially in a conservative environment, this is surprising.

The North Carolina House is set to vote on a bill that would

amend the state’s indecent exposure law to expand the legal definition of “private parts” to explicitly include “the nipple, or any portion of the areola, or the female breast.”

And if such exposure were to be deemed

for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire

the evil miscreant could convicted of a felony and locked away in a North Carolina jail for six months.  “More mundane exposures” (whatever those are) could be guilty of a misdemeanor—and still locked up, now for 30 days.

Of course, it’s hard to discriminate such exposures from political speech, but that apparently doesn’t concern those good legislators.  And a woman’s breast is, perforce, an obscene thing, to be kept hidden away—and state legislators are far better judges of such morality than are the rubes of the villages, towns, and cities who’ve already made their choice on this matter.

Which brings me to the state’s…rationale…for this exercise.

Co-sponsor Rep Rayne Brown, R-Davidson, told members of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that her bill was triggered by topless rallies promoting women’s equity that were held during the last two years in Asheville.

Oop—there’s that tacky free speech thing.

No matter; she added in all seriousness,

There’s some confusion about the law.  I think our state deserves clarity on this issue.

Never mind that there is no confusion.  The police of a town know their town’s ordinances.  They have no need of knowing the differences with another town’s ordinances; they have no jurisdiction over there.

Nor is there any confusion on the part of the state police.  They have no jurisdiction inside the town limits unless they’re enforcing a state law.  Oh, wait—let’s make a state law, and give them jurisdiction.

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