The Raving Theist

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Craven Images

February 14, 2006 | 12 Comments

Update: Theocratic, anti-sex trolls have invaded the comments section and actually defended the construction of wall-shaped burkas around “helpless” women in public bathrooms to protect them from the “impure” thoughts, eyes and cameras of defecation fetishists. What’s next –a law requiring pantyhose aficionados to wear blindfolds and refrain from publicly masturbating at the sight of a shapely, nylon-clad leg?


Does God hate pictures? Maybe — but the law isn’t particularly interested in silly superstitions. A couple of stories from today’s New York Post drive home the point. The first shows that even if you think your body is your temple, temples aren’t entitled to special treatment:

A Manhattan judge has dismissed an Orthodox Jewish man’s lawsuit, finding that a photo taken of him on a street and sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars is art — not commerce.

Emo Nussenzweig filed the suit on the grounds that his religion forbids photographs because they’re graven images, according to his lawyer, Jay Goldberg.

“It puts him in a disgraceful light within his community,” Goldberg said.

“It violates the tenets of the particular religious sect to which he belongs. He shouldn’t be put in a position where people might think he sold out for a few bucks.”

But Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Judith Gische ruled that the head shot showing Nussenzweig, with a white beard, a black hat and a black coat, is art — even though the photographer took it surreptitiously near Times Square in 2001 and then sold 10 prints of it at $20,000 to $30,000 each.

Although the court recognized that the plaintiff found “the use of the photograph bearing his likeness deeply and spiritually offensive,” it held that his religious beliefs didn’t trump the photographer’s First Amendment right to artistic expression. That’s the way it should be. If you think a picture — or cartoon — offends your God, complain all you want. But don’t think you get an exemption for your peculiar sensitivities. If you don’t want you picture on a driver’s license, don’t drive. If you don’t like your picture snapped, stay inside.

Too bad this lesson was lost on the authorities in the second Post story. Not only does their God hate pictures, but sex as well. But they’ve set themselves up for an expensive false arrest lawsuit by trying to impose their theology on this photographer:

A baggage handler at Kennedy airport has admitted trying to snap a cellphone picture of a woman who was using a ladies room at the airport, cops said yesterday.

Alleged photog James Smith, 42, of Astoria, Queens, was released on his own recognizance from Queens Criminal Court yesterday, after signing an order of protection barring him from any further contact with the woman, whose name is being withheld by The Post.

He spent Sunday night in custody for the alleged stunt.

Cops say Smith entered the bathroom at around noon Sunday and stuck his cellphone under the door to a stall being used by the woman.

He tried but failed to take a picture, detectives said in a criminal complaint.

He was seen running out by another woman who was inside the ladies room, and was caught on security cameras entering and leaving the facility.

I’d say the alleged “wacko” has a much stronger case than the photographer from the first story. Although in both cases the pictures were taken surreptitiously and without consent, the cellphone photog was taking pictures for private use rather than public display — and wasn’t trying to make a profit off them. He just wanted to masturbate. Sexual meaning is subjective, driven by biology, and theocrats should learn not to imperialize their judgments upon others. If you have a hang-up about being photographed with your pants down or while defecating, don’t use a public bathroom. And before you impose your special religious sensitivities on others, keep in mind that God sees all anyway.

The police conduct was especially hypocritical given that the man was himself caught by hidden cameras that were secretly taping everybody. While those particular cameras weren’t planted in the bathroom, there’s no reason that the photographer should be held to the prudish standards of the surveillance company. And indeed, for all we know, its executives might have a fetish for clothed people, or even Jews in Orthodox garb. But to exalt their preferences over anyone else’s is like arguing over the superiority of chocolate ice cream vs. strawberry. Different people will have different preferences, and there are plenty of other flavors to choose from.

Comments

12 Responses to “Craven Images”

  1. Kafkaesquí
    February 14th, 2006 @ 11:23 pm

    Personal photog rule: If you’re capturing my likeness to fulfill some personal masturbatory fantasies, then go for it. If you’re making a profit off my likeness, I want a percentage you artistic asshole!

  2. ginger
    February 15th, 2006 @ 2:53 am

    If you don’t like your picture snapped, stay inside.

    She was inside.
    prick.

  3. ginger
    February 15th, 2006 @ 2:58 am

    The difference is that the law protects people from being recorded when they have a reasonable right to privacy. Like when you are peeing. That’s why there are WALLS. And doors, with little locks on them. So you can be afforded privacy. If you catch me eliminating myself on the subway, fine, snap away. That would be a reasonable consequence to my actions. This isn’t religious, this is about reason.

  4. twyg
    February 15th, 2006 @ 8:16 am

    damn. gingers humor gland has gone on the fritz!

  5. gravitybear
    February 15th, 2006 @ 8:42 am

    In order to make the determination that Ginger’s humor gland wasn’t working, the main post would have had to be funny.

  6. Kate
    February 15th, 2006 @ 8:48 am

    Ginger said: “If you catch me eliminating myself on the subway…”

    I just hope she doesn’t really kill herself. That wouldn’t be funny at all. : (

  7. jahrta
    February 15th, 2006 @ 10:05 am

    Well…

    AT LEAST IT’S NOT ABOUT FUCKIN’ ABORTION AGAIN!

  8. hermesten
    February 15th, 2006 @ 10:15 am

    Surely you’re joking, but I’ll take the bait anyway. How do you know the cell phone pictures weren’t going to be used for public display? There are all kinds of websites dedicated to displaying voyeur photos, and women sitting on toliets is a popular sub-genre. Or, so I’ve heard, anyway.

    In fact, the internet is a giant mutual masturbation exchange. Or so I’ve heard.

    As a lawyer, you have to be kidding about the legal distinctions, and since others have already responded to that issue, I’ll leave it alone.

  9. twyg
    February 15th, 2006 @ 11:22 am

    gravitybear,
    Based some of RA’s previous posts I would have guessed that he was kidding… now whether or not YOU find his attempt at humour amusing is another thing entirely…

  10. twyg
    February 15th, 2006 @ 3:37 pm

    what is it with these damn christians?! if i want to jerk off in public while ogling your pantyhosed legs then by god i should be allowed to! if yoou didnt want me to jizz on your shoes you shoulda wore pants!

  11. Jason Malloy
    February 16th, 2006 @ 12:46 am

    I love this shit. (no pun intended!)

  12. Thinking Freely
    February 19th, 2006 @ 7:23 am

    From a legal standpoint, the following may or may not be funny (or tongue-in-cheek, like your post):
    a man from a rural part of this state was recently arrested for “harming” a sheep that belonged to a farmer. you can imagine the act which “harmed” the sheep. does the sheep have a right of consent to sexual acts?

    if i am walking my saint bernard downtown and someone begins to hump her, is that illegal? she didn’t say “no”…

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