Sunday, July 25, 2010

And Do You KNOW What Dancing Leads To?

A woman sued Girls Gone Wild for filming her without her consent at a bar. Basically, she was dancing at the bar, and somebody pulled her top down, exposing her breasts to the camera. The jury ruled against her, in what has to be some of the most stunningly offensive logic ever deployed:
After deliberating for just 90 minutes on Thursday, the St. Louis jury came back with a verdict in favor of the smut peddlers. Patrick O'Brien, the jury foreman, explained later to reporters that they figured if she was willing to dance in front of the photographer, she was probably cool with having her breasts on film. They said she gave implicit consent by being at the bar, and by participating in the filming - though she never signed a consent form, and she can be heard on camera saying "no, no" when asked to show her breasts.

I have to admit, it never occurred to me that dancing at a bar equaled implied consent to be filmed having your clothes stripped off (that "no" once again meant "yes" is tragically too common to comment on). But I guess I have one of those crazy, feminist conceptions of consent that doesn't let you have any fun at all.

11 comments:

Jack said...

I'm never surprised by stupid juries but it seems worth pointing out that the video isn't public and as far as I know none of the journalists writing about the case have seen it. The attorney for the plaintiff claims the video shows the woman saying "no, no" but we don't know how clear the video makes it or if she can be heard saying it at all. Neither the juror nor the defense is quoted regarding the claim that the plaintiff said "no, no". We also don't have half a dozen other pieces of information the jury would have, like whether she immediately covered herself, whether she yelled at the girl who allegedly assaulted her, whether she continued dancing, whether she seemed aware she was exposed while she was dancing etc.

No one outside that courtroom really knows what the case looked like. Joe Francis is a douche though and I smile when bad things happen to him.

PG said...

Jack,

it seems worth pointing out that the video isn't public

Really? The post David linked says, "Jane Doe, who was 20 at the time the tape was made, is now living in Missouri with her husband and two children. She only found out about the video in 2008, when a friend of her husband's saw the "Girls Gone Wild Sorority Orgy" video and recognized her face. He called up her husband, and in what has got to be the most awkward conversation ever, informed him that his wife's breasts were kinda famous."

Moreover, if the foreman's explanation is taken seriously, then every point you raise is utterly irrelevant. The foreman isn't saying that the plaintiff failed to bring enough evidence showing that she objected to having her breasts exposed. He said, "Through her actions, she gave implied consent. She was really playing to the camera. She knew what she was doing."

Rebecca said...

Moreover, it doesn't actually make a difference, because when you film someone, you (theoretically) have to obtain their written consent. Even more so if they're naked.

Jack said...

PG, what I mean is no one outside the court who is considering the issue of whether Jane Doe consented has examined the videotape. I presume the jury was shown a clip of the video in which Jane Doe was identified. No one who is discussing the verdict has seen the clip with the plaintiff identified. Unless someone has seen the Girls Gone Wild video and remembers a woman yelling "no, no" after her shirt is pulled down we don't know what the jury saw. (I'm also not sure if all the tape GGW took of the plaintiff was included in their for-sale video. The jury may have been looking at B-roll.)

"Moreover, if the foreman's explanation is taken seriously, then every point you raise is utterly irrelevant. The foreman isn't saying that the plaintiff failed to bring enough evidence showing that she objected to having her breasts exposed."

The foreman was saying how they determined that she had consented at all. If she didn't sign a release then it needs to be clear from the footage that she is aware she is being filmed and consenting to it. The defense needed to establish that independent of any other issue in the case. Then there is the question of whether or not the plaintiff revoked consent when her shirt came off. The one line quote from the juror- which is all the half-page article includes does not address this. The fact that it was not addressed in the article does not mean it was not addressed in the courtroom. There was a full trial, I imagine a number of things came up that weren't included in that very short article.

It may be the case that the jury just didn't give a shit that she was assaulted and revoked consent when her shirt was pulled down. Maybe they think she was dancing like a 'slut' and think that means she consents to anything. But it is also possible that the video doesn't show her saying no and shows her continuing to dance for the camera while aware her shirt was down. You can't just take the plaintiff's word for it, I'm afraid.

Rebecca: As far as I know that isn't true. There is nothing wrong with relying on implied consent legally. Releases are good form, they're harder to dispute especially if people might not realize you're planning to sell what you are filming (since it is hard to indicate implicitly that you are aware the photographer might sell the film) but Girls Gone Wild is well know company and the plaintiff wasn't claiming she didn't realize why they were filming.

joe said...

Yeah, I've seen too many people (even law students) trip over their own ignorance of the actual facts in the infamous "McDonalds hot coffee" case to get too worked up over a short second-or-third-hand blurb on the internet, no matter how well it would seem to lend itself to outrage on its own.

Wasn't the "blogosphere" supposed to provide us with crucial context that we don't get from the "MSM"? I seem to recall that was a major point of blogger pride some six or seven years ago.

Matthew said...

Really, Joe? Because if the perspective you want is "dismissive of women" the MSM should do you just about fine.

joe said...

That's a cheap shot. The media deserves it, but I don't.

And if we follow cheap shot logic we can only conclude that the "blogosphere" is extraordinarily dismissive of women since it has seen fit to provide only a cursory description of this case (in contrast to media wars malarkey, of which there is no shortage).

What I am saying, and what I think Jack is saying, is that we're more interested in more information on the case than more commentary. I mean, forming a snap opinion on stuff you just hear about is a great way to be the center of attention at a party. But you run the real risk of being "snookered," as we recently saw with the NAACP.

That's not a price I'm willing to pay just so I can pretend to be Truman Capote.

Matthew said...

"I mean, forming a snap opinion on stuff you just hear about is a great way to be the center of attention at a party."

Sounds like you go to some lame parties.

Look, pointing out that the jury knows more about the case than we do makes sense, but assuming that what they know exonerates the GGW crew when no one from the jury or the defense has given us any reason to believe it - that is dismissive. If there was real cause for the ruling, now would be a pretty good time for someone in the know to come forward. In the meantime, I don't see anything irresponsible about demanding an explanation when all the available information suggests that fairly brazen sexism is at play.

joe said...

I'd be happy to hear an explanation. Or any additional information at all. I don't see where I said that the jury must be right and we just don't know what we know. But that could be the case, and I think the human instinct to go off on a confirmation bias binge is sadly amplified on the internet (the flip side of greater range of opinion/perspective is that plenty of huge spaces can be dedicated to just one of 'em, see Fox).

PG said...

Unless someone has seen the Girls Gone Wild video and remembers a woman yelling "no, no" after her shirt is pulled down we don't know what the jury saw.

If "Girls Gone Wild Sorority Orgy" (the published video) cuts away immediately after her shirt is pulled down, that doesn't bode well for GGW's confidence that the video would show her continuing to dance unconcernedly.

But it is also possible that the video doesn't show her saying no and shows her continuing to dance for the camera while aware her shirt was down.

I find it implausible that, if this is what the video that her husband's friend saw shows, she would blatantly perjure herself by claiming the contrary. That's not only bad for her lawsuit; that's bad for her reputation and standing among her acquaintance.

Jack said...

PG, we don't even know what the video we're discussing *is*. We don't know if "no, no" is supposed to be audible on the published video or some B-Roll that got subpoenaed. You're right that if the published video doesn't show her saying "no, no" it is unlikely Jane Doe is claiming that it does. There are lots of possibilities and the that is one of the unlikelier ones.

I'm not particularly interested in listing things Doe could be lying about or spinning-- I don't like doing that to people who may have just suffered a serious injustice. I'm just pointing out that a lot of people are making assumptions about the case and about the thought process of the jury based on a single quote from the foreman which included no context. The quote from the juror (that the plaintiff gave consent by being at the club and by dancing for the camera) shouldn't be amended with "even though the plaintiff can be heard saying "no, no" on video when asked to show her breasts".

If the Jezebel bloggers haven't seen the video they shouldn't be reporting the story as if they had. All they know is that the plaintiff *claimed* she said "no, no" on video. David shouldn't quote them on this either.

I'm also at this point confused as to whether or not she said "no, no" when her shirt was pulled down or, as Jezebel reports it, she said "no, no" when asked to show her breasts. If she said "no" when they asked her but later danced willingly and knowingly with her shirt down that would explain a lot of the confusion.

Obviously this whole affair closely resembles the "she said 'no' but I could tell she wanted it" rape excuse. And there is good reason for people to want to know if something like that is what happened here. But it seems to me pretty clear to me that a lot of people have just read the scenario into the brief news articles without considering other possibilities or the lack of context in the articles.