Wrongly Expecting Privacy
By Daniel Muniz
Does a woman have a reasonable expectation of privacy if she voluntarily pulls up her shirt and bra to flash her breasts in a crowded public outdoor event?
Tonya Barnhart certainly thinks so.
The 29 year-old retail clerk attended the Toop’s Troops Second Annual Pig Roast, a “bring your own alcohol” fundraising event targeted towards motorcycle enthusiasts and bikers. The rowdy outdoor bash, which had plenty of music, food, games, and vendors hawking motorcycling paraphernalia, attracted a couple hundred people. The gathering also attracted the attention of a few motorcycle magazines.
After quite a bit of drinking, women started pulling up their shirts and bras to flash their breasts in exchange for beads.
In this festive Mardi Gras like atmosphere, Barnhart was voluntarily lifted onto the shoulders of two partygoers where she then willingly pulled up her top to show her breasts to the crowd.
As fate would have it, independent photographer Bill Cromwell who likes to submit his work to motorcycle magazines, snapped a photograph precisely when Barnhart publicly exposed her boobs. Cromwell later submitted that picture to Easyriders magazine, a publication geared specifically towards motorcycle enthusiasts, who then published that picture in its 2005 edition.
Tonya Barnhart didn’t mind lifting her top to a couple hundred people but she was incensed to discover that the entire audience of this motorcycle magazine’s circulation would now enjoy viewing her endowment. She immediately filed a lawsuit against Paisano Publications, the owner of Easyriders, for invasion of privacy
Barnhart asserts that when she flashed her breasts, it was really a private act.
And even though two hundred people had shown up to the pig roast and the event was available to anyone willing to purchase a ticket, she claims that she was really inside a pocket of about ten people that she already knew and trusted. In other words, she exposed herself only to friends instead of to the public even though she was partying in a crowded outdoor facility in an event that was open to the public. Needless to say that she was already quite visible because she was sitting on top of the shoulders of two men.
Even so, Barnhart contends that she never gave consent to anyone to take pictures of her when she flashed her breasts in a very public and crowded place.
Of course Barnhart’s attorney attempted to bring up similar issues such as the “Girls Gone Wild” case where two women exposed themselves after they were told that their nude bodies would not show up in any of the “Girls Gone Wild” series. The two women were lied to and their naked bodies still ended up in the videos.
In addition, Barnhart’s attorney asserted that Easyriders attempted to depict her as a trashy girl. Other lawsuits were successful in this regard because adult magazines portrayed women in similar instances as sluts and tramps. However, Easyriders caption to the photograph of Barnhart’s bare breasts simply as “Pegging the fun meter” instead of describing her as part of any sort of debauchery or decadence.
However, U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz in Maryland didn’t buy any of the arguments and dismissed the case.
Even though Barnhart may have felt that she was surrounded by a handful of friends, she was in fact surrounded by two hundred people and in full view of the public. Anyone could have observed her breasts when she flashed them thus photographer Bill Cromwell didn’t violate anyone’s privacy because this flasher momentarily made her boobs available for the entire public to enjoy.
In addition, Barnhart sat at an elevated height when she was top of the shoulders of two men. By being lifted up high in the air, she would be giving much greater exposure when she flashed her endowment.
As for bringing up the “Girls Gone Wild” case, those plaintiffs were lied to. At the pig roast, no agreement was ever made with anyone. And since it was a public event that anyone could show up to, anyone could also take pictures of anything that was there.
And as for the magazines, their benign caption had nothing to do with defaming her character or degrading her.
In summary, Tonya Barnhart had a case of “flasher’s remorse.”
She was partying and having a good time at this pig roast when she engaged in outrageous behavior by pulling up her top and flashing her boobs for the whole world to see. She probably had a lot of fun exposing herself.
Such an incident happens all the time especially at the rowdier and more festive events. And from what is on the Internet, millions of women don’t have a problem with multitudes of people enjoying vivid pictures of their bare bodies. In fact, plenty of women actually want the public to be titillated over their naked or partially naked bodies on the net. And most of them aren’t bothered that their nude images are circulating all over the world because there are already millions of such pictures floating out in cyberspace.
In the electronic age that we live in where digital cameras and camera cell phones are cheap and plentiful, just about anybody can snap a picture of anyone who indulges in adolescent behavior. But such behavior is purely voluntary and it is unfortunate that Barnhart doesn’t realize that it was solely her decision to flash her boobs to the public. If she didn’t expose her boobs, then there wouldn’t be any controversy or pictures.