By Christopher Cross
About two months or so ago, I came across an individual using AOL to promote his personal profile for sexual purposes while displaying himself wearing his Texas Department of Corrections uniform; sitting inside the security control booth at work.
I contacted the Texas Department of Corrections and raise questions about the ethical and legal appropriateness of this individuals conduct. Supsequently, the profile was removed and the individual was reprimanded.
I did this because I believed in part, that the utilization of a State uniform for or to enhance sexual purposes was, among other things unethical and the photograph displaying the inside of the security control booth raised many serious concerns about the legalities of such and the serious risk he was putting everyone at the correctional facility in, as a result.
Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court was presented with a similar question about the extent in, which government officials may use Internet communication for sexual purposes and receive First Amendment protections.
In the case of Roe v. City & County Of San Francisco, Jone Roe was a California State police officer, who engaged in making pornographic video tapes of himself wearing a police uniform, stripping and then performing sexual acts.
In 2001, Roe's supervisor discovered his videotapes were being sold on ebay and subsequently Roe was fired. Thereafter, Roe filed suit claiming that his First Amendment rights were violated because the videotapes were of "public concern." The District Court did not agree and granted the defendants' motion for summary judgement, yet, upon appeal. The 9th Cirtcuit Court of Appeals overturned the lower Courts' ruling and held that Roe had the First Amendment right to publish his pornographic videotapes on the Internet.
The U.S. Supreme Court disagreed with the 9th Circuit, holding in part that:
[Roe's] "expression does not qualify as a matter of public concern under any view." And that "the debased parody of an officer performing indecent acts while in the course of official duties brought the mission of the employer and the professionalism of its officers into serious disrepute."
If a government official wishes to display themselves on the Internet for [lawful] sexual purposes I believe they should have the full First Amendment protections that is granted to everyone else, [providing] that they do so in their [individual] capacity and [not] in their governmental capacity. Because there is a distinct difference between using ones government employee capacity to engage in speech that is truly of public interest or concern and that of using ones governmental capacity to merely play to a specific audiance that has particular sexual interests.
As I have stated before, First Amendment protections, even on the Internet, are not [absolute] for anyone, nor should they be, if we are to maintain a civilized peaceful society and government officails cannot claim an exemption to this rule merely because they are government officials.