In the Summer of 2015, Heidi Lilley and B. Liz MacKinnon were ticketed on Gilford beach in alleged violation of the town’s ordinances. In late December, they went to trial at Laconia district court and Free State Project early mover and attorney Dan Hynes put on an excellent defense. Judge James M. Carroll took the case under advisement and has now issued his six-page order: both cases are dismissed!
Don’t get too excited. If you read the order, you’ll find that Judge Carroll is no hero of constitutional rights or equality. Page three of his order ridiculously cites the private Motion Picture Association of America’s ratings system as evidence of a supposed “societal desire” to regulate female toplessness. Carroll argues that because the state’s three prudish witnesses (the three snitches) don’t appreciate female toplessness and because the town gave notice of the existence of the ordinance, that somehow means the town ordinance doesn’t violate the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution or Article 1 of the NH Constitution’s Bill of Rights.
Given that Article 1 only mentions men when it says, “All men are born equally free and independent”, is it Judge Carroll’s opinion that only men were born free and that women can be told what to wear, for the good of “society”? He’s not foolish enough to come right out and say that, but his order does make excuse after outrageous excuse for the town’s ordinance, claiming it’s constitutionally sound:
The township’s compelling interest is met in maintaining the beach as a natural resource to be enjoyed by young and old , men and women, families and single persons while preserving appropriate standards that allow the township to maintain their local values and mores…The Court does not find that the prohibition violates any constitutionally protected right…the movement “does not have ‘a right to impose one’s lifestyle on other who have an equal right to be left alone.
Topless Tuesday, Keene’s Central Square, 2010
So, if the social mores were that all women must wear burqas, because seeing any skin at all bothered people, it sounds like Carroll would consider that mandate constitutional as well.
Though Carroll defends the right to marry either gender, he says that such marriage is a protected right, while toplessness is not. On the final page, he claims the toplessness in this case had no artistic value, while on page three he acknowledges the female nipple “has been the subject of great beauty in art”. Apparently Carroll is an art critic now, too.
Ultimately, Carroll decides the case in the favor of the defendants, but not on the excellent constitutional or equal protection arguments made by attorney Hynes, but simply on a technicality of the system: (more…)
“Who doesn’t support a mothers right to feed? Don’t give me the liberal talking points Amanda. If it’s a woman’s natural inclination to pull her nipple out in public and you support that, than you should have no problem with a mans to stare at it and grab it. After all, it’s ALL relative and natural, right?” – State Representative Josh Moore
Does Moore really believe that a woman going topless justifies a man committing assault and grabbing it? It’s hysteria like this that needs to end. They are breasts. Men and women both have them – it’s a basic human liberty to be as clothed as one wishes on your own, or public property.
Moore and his cohort, state representative Al Baldasaro were subsequently eviscerated on Amanda’s facebook thread, by countless libertarians. During the process, Baldasaro weighed in with another rude quip:
“No disrespect, but your nipple would be the last one I would want to see. You want to turn our family beach’s into a pervert show.” – State Representative Al Baldasaro
(All spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors by Moore and Baldasaro were left intact.)
Somewhere along the line, Slate published a piece featuring Moore and Baldasaro’s ridiculous support of oppressing topless freedom. That then led to several more major websites picking up the story. Here’s a quick rundown:
Hoping to overturn the illegal, discriminatory town ordinance, Lilley and MacKinnon teamed up with Free State Project early mover and attorney Dan Hynes.
Hynes’ line of questioning was interesting, specifically asking the state’s witnesses, which included three snitches and a few cops, how they determine someone is a woman. The all answered something about breasts, which is inconclusive. Without inspecting genitalia, which the police did not do, there would be reasonable doubt that the person is female.
Hynes argued, in a ten-page motion to dismiss (complimented by jovial Judge James M. Carroll) the ordinance is unconstitutional and violates equal protection and the right to free expression. Further, he argues the ordinance is also illegal because New Hampshire is not a “home rule” state and unless the state legislature authorizes towns to pass laws of their own, they cannot legally do so.
I got a sad letter from my attorney this week. He informed me that the Supreme Court of NH upheld the lower court’s decision to deny my application for a license to carry a handgun discreetly. You can read the decision here:
After making international headlines and despite a major facebook mistake and bad weather, approximately two-dozen ladies persevered and came out to Hampton Beach today to stand against the social stigma associated with women being topless in public.
Free State Project early mover Jessica Wardell traveled all the way from Henniker to join the topless ladies and their male supporters today and had this to say about the event, “It was lots of fun, there were about 20-30 girls participating, and I didn’t receive any negative criticism. Mostly people were curious about what was going on, and everyone that I talked to seemed to support the idea- especially when I brought up breast feeding.”
The event has already received coverage from the Daily Mail, which focused on the dozens of topless equality events taking place internationally, Reuters, Boston.com, NECN, as well as in Manchester’s Union Leader. Seacoast newspaper “Fosters” was dismissive of the event in their article, calling it “a bust” (yuk, yuk) and claiming only a dozen women came out. How many actually attended? Wardell claims 20-30 ladies in her estimate, with 40-50 additional supporters, including topless males. While more than 1,300 had claimed they were attending on the facebook event, facebook event attendance estimates are almost never close to the actual turnout. Many will indicate they are attending on facebook simply to show support for the event.
What day at the beach would be complete without sand boobies?
The ladies who set up the Hampton event, Kia Sinclair and Heidi Lilley, deserve a lot of credit for doing a great job promoting it and fielding media interviews in advance. Sadly, a major mistake was made early this morning when someone canceled the facebook event! The night prior, one of the admins posted a warning that they were going to cancel the facebook event this morning, but told people that did not mean the event was actually canceled. (Apparently, the FB event was canceled due to heavy trolling of the comments, however this could have been solved by only allowing admins to post.) Of course, only a fraction of the event attendees saw that post, so when the event was cancelled, EVERYONE on the event received a notice this morning from facebook saying the event was canceled with no explanation. This, in addition to the cold, rainy weather was likely a major contributing factor to the turnout. Two dozen topless ladies in bad weather actually seems really good, all things considered!
Organizer Kia Sinclair agreed, saying in a Free Keene-exclusive interview, “I am really happy about the turnout despite the weather. There were actually quite a few topless women around the beach at different times throughout the day. Because of the rain, a lot of women took shelter at the seashell stage. I will say that it was slightly intimidating being stared at and photographed by so many people. Its actually silly that just us being topless made so many people want to take pictures. If the weather was better I don’t think it would have been quite like that. But either way there were a lot of supporters despite the rain.”
Free State Project Early Mover Jessica Wardell, Graham Colson, and FSP Early Mover Matt Genack
Of course, all the mainstream media articles have been showing censored photos, or the ladies shot from behind, because the media are part of the problem. The social stigma against showing women topless runs deep, and mainstream media certainly won’t cross that taboo. Free Keene is not beholden to those rules. Share this article on social media at your own risk – you may get reported and banned for doing so. UPDATE: Facebook has targeted this article for censorship, so if you want to share it there, goto this link and hit “share” on it. That will share a version with a censored pic that uses Graham’s breasts to cover Jessica’s.