Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How much does a Catholic college cost?

Well, I’m not supposed to be blogging; I’m supposed to be writing fiction.  But things keep turning up.

For instance, I saw the press release for the Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College turn up on a lot of blogs and websites.  Now, I’m not opposed to Catholic colleges and universities.  I put choosing a Catholic college in the “do what works best for your family” box.  If your family includes a child who desperately longs to be a combined humanities/theology teacher at a Catholic high school someday, then you’re going to need that Catholic college, because no secular college will be able to tailor the right degree program for that child, just for one example.

But one thing that bugs me about these “best Catholic colleges” lists is that nobody really talks about the cost of a Catholic college or university education.  I was interested enough to try to find out, so I started checking the colleges one at a time.  Initially I intended to make a list of each college’s average costs, but about halfway through the list I realized two things: one, that some of the colleges make it rather hard to get specific data about how much a degree will cost (for instance, one lists a three or four semester option while another only lists costs per credit hour which would take a lot of calculating to come up with an average dollar amount), and two, there was no way I had enough time.

So in the end I only listed the costs of 14 colleges.  And I tried to keep it to “Room/Board/Tuition for a full-time on campus undergraduate,” but even that was a bit tricky, since some colleges bundled various fees into the cost estimates and some did not.  Still: this is roughly what a year at each college will cost for a full-time, on campus student for room, board, and tuition--you may have to add mandatory fees as well as variable costs such as books and expenses (and some colleges helpfully estimate that, too, but I’m a big believer in used textbooks and other ways to keep personal expenses down during one’s college years).

Here’s what I came up with:
Aquinas College (Nashville, TN): $28,700

Ave Maria University (Ave Maria, Fla.) $27,686

Belmont Abbey College (Belmont, NC): $24,500

Benedictine College (Atchison, Kan.) $29,850

The Catholic University of America (Washington, D.C.) $54,244

Christendom College (Front Royal, VA): $32,600

The College of Saint Mary Magdalen (Warner, N.H.) $29,200

DeSales University (Center Valley, Penn): $44,112

Franciscan University of Steubenville (Steubenville, Ohio) $32,070

Thomas Aquinas College (Santa Paula, Calif.) $32,450

The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts (Merrimack, N.H.) $29,800

University of Dallas (Irving, Tex.) $44,000

Walsh University (North Canton, Ohio) 30,000

Wyoming Catholic College (Lander, Wyo.) 28,150
Keep in mind, these are just estimates.  Also I was an English major so my arithmetic might be wrong.  But the average cost of a Catholic college or university, based on these schools, is $33,383 a year.  I highly doubt that adding the other schools in (if I have time later) will lower that number.  So you’re looking at around $120,000 to $130,000 for a four-year degree.

Of course, all of these colleges stress the huge availability of financial aid, which may make a college that seems impossible turn out to work for a particular student.  But since the average college student graduating in 2014 will have to pay back about $33,000 in student loan debt, I think that in general it is best when the Catholic college can offer academic and other scholarships and grants before student loans are discussed.

Are the rising costs of college, not only of Catholic colleges but of public colleges and universities as well, sustainable over the long-term?  A lot of observers think they aren’t, and that the “college bubble” will one day burst like the real estate bubble did.  Given that the medial US household income is just above $51,000 a year and has remained stagnant while the costs of an education continue to skyrocket, I think those observers may be right.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The new strategy

My friends, we need a new strategy to stop same-sex marriage.

In some ways, I think we’ve been making some of the same mistakes that were made when the abortion issue first began.  It’s not surprising.  We Americans like to think of ourselves as a lawful people, and we expect, when a whole state votes a certain way to protect life or defend marriage, that such legislative decisions will be respected by our courts.

It is long-since past time to realize that our courts are staffed, by and large, by power-hungry narcissists anxious to leave their marks on history.  Twisting and turning in the prevailing winds of the zeitgeist, our nation’s judges are nothing but black-robed tyrants bent on destroying the rule of law and replacing it with the rule of judges.  The recent events regarding the sickening fantasy called gay “marriage” are just one example.

But while I don’t advise anyone to give up the legal fight--it is far too early for that--it is time for us to take this fight in a new direction.

My idea is simple.  We need a consensus of people of faith and people of reason to go after one of the biggest and most deadly weapons of marriage destruction.  We need to form a coalition to end no-fault divorce in America.

No-fault divorce got its hooks into the destruction of marriage long before gay couples started insisting that gender difference in marriage was optional instead of being, you know, the whole point.  With no-fault divorce every single marriage license in states which passed such laws went from being contracts with a certain expectation of durability or even permanency to contracts which can be dissolved easier than a business partnership.  Not only that, but most contracts require both parties to be involved in any dissolution; most no-fault statutes permit a marriage to be destroyed by one person for no reason at all, leaving the other person an innocent victim to his or her spouse’s random act of cruelty.

Because of no-fault divorce, most marriage licenses aren’t worth the paper they are printed on.  Marriage has become a sort of “at-will” state, with either party to the contract completely free to walk away at any time for any reason, or no reason.

Here are some of my ideas, in no particular order:

1. Demand legislation to end no-fault divorce in every state where it exists.
2. Require strict criteria for divorce that would include abuse, adultery, and abandonment, but would also require a high level of proof for anything other than abuse.  (I make that exception because it is unfortunately known that even with no-fault divorce, abused spouses find it hard to leave their abusers, and we don’t want to make things worse for them.)
3. Even if a divorce proceeding is allowed to go forward, require a minimum of two years between filing and the decree for a marriage in which there are no children, and a minimum of five years between filing and decree for a marriage in which there are children (again, I would exempt abuse cases, but nobody else).  It should be difficult to end (legally; Catholics don’t believe valid sacramental marriages can end at all) a civil marriage, and especially difficult if there are children of the marriage.  And it should be impossible to enter a “new” marriage right away.  If the state has an interest even in marriages between two adults who can’t possibly generate children, then the state’s interest should include promoting the durability of that marriage.  Anybody who doesn’t agree can just avoid getting married in the first place.
4. During the time lapse between filing for the divorce and receiving the decree, require marital and family counseling.  For those without children, a minimum of one year of counseling that is geared toward reconciliation should be required; for those with children, a minimum of three years of counseling should be required.  The third year of counseling for those with children who have irrevocably decided on divorce should be focused on the couple’s ability to engage with each other in a civil and friendly way for the sake of the children.  The completion of this counseling will be a necessary part of custody arrangements.
5. To minimize divorces in the first place, require a waiting period of three months (or more) between the application for a marriage license and the actual marriage ceremony.  This could be waived in certain circumstances such as unexpected military deployment but would be generally applied.

Some people may complain that this will make marriage harder for people.  My answer to that is: Good!  Marriage shouldn’t be so easy to enter and so much easier to leave.  There should be no quickie Vegas weddings and no quickie divorces, either.  Marriage is already treated like a cultural joke of sorts--it’s just the big wedding party for the two fornicators who have been shacking up for years while they saved up for their Hollywood wedding extravaganza in all too many cases.  Having actual rules that would make it harder for people to leave a marriage might make people realize that marriage is a serious business.

And for those who object that my ideas would make the marriage rate decline--it’s already in a free-fall.  Many people no longer see a reason for “that piece of paper.”  They know in their hearts that that piece of paper--the civil marriage license--is meaningless in the shadow of no-fault divorce.  Those who marry in churches or synagogues or mosques which teach that marriage is permanent are an exception to that rule, but most of them wouldn’t be deterred by the rules I’m proposing anyway.  If anything, the young people whose religions take marriage seriously would be heartened by seeing City Hall stop treating it as a lewd joke.

Would my rules end same-sex “marriage?”  Not by themselves, perhaps.  But when fewer than 2% of all Americans identify as gay and only 600,000 of those are in some sort of domestic partnership that is attempting to look like marriage in the first place, I think ending easy divorce would impact the demand for gay “marriage.” In most states that have passed gay “marriage” laws, an initial rush to the altar has been followed by a whole lot of nothing, illustrating that few gay people even want to pretend that their relationships are anything like marriage.

If we can reform marriage in America to be something that is much harder to break apart, we will be doing a great good thing for most marriages.  And, as a side effect, I’d be willing to bet that the vast majority of gay couples would look at the new rules and decide that civil marriage isn’t really what they want--because as it stands right now a vast majority of gay couples have already decided they don’t want marriage itself.  What they want is “marriage rights” to use to beat those of us who believe that gay sex is gravely sinful into silence.  And as long as marriage is a trivial legal state that can be broken more easily than a software agreement, we’re the ones handing them the club.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Light posting ahead

...well, and behind, if you’ve noticed.

I don’t manage to post daily anymore, which is okay, but I still like to post at least a few times a week when I can.  Unfortunately I’m trying really hard right now to make a couple of self-imposed fiction writing deadlines.  So even though I keep seeing things I want to write about (Ebola! Catholic writers on the Internet!  Lesbian IVF customers who were dissatisfied when the sperm they ordered came from a black man instead of their preferred white male donor, leaving them with a mixed race child who they are worried won’t fit in to their stodgy white community which apparently isn’t stodgy enough to mind with the whole “married” lesbians manufacturing a baby thing in the first place, but a mixed-race child--gasp!  Etc. ad infinitum!) I’m trying to be disciplined.

We’ll see how long I can go before I crack.  :)  In the meantime, your patience is, as always, greatly appreciated.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Catholics and concepts of patriarchy

Over the weekend I engaged briefly in a Facebook discussion with another Catholic female blogger about the concept of patriarchy.

She’s for it.  She said that patriarchy is God’s will for everyone.  She didn’t give me a definition and says a definition is unnecessary, but she also insisted that since patriarchy is present throughout Scripture and Church teaching it is clearly something Catholics should embrace.  She also referred to a book called Why Men Rule (which I am unfamiliar with) as sort of “proving” that only patriarchal societies work, and all others are doomed to failure.  Oh, and she says that Christian feminism is nonexistent because feminism is based on Marxist theories which are incompatible with Christianity (she couldn’t explain the early feminists who wanted women to be able to vote and own property and who were active before Marxism really got going in the West, but apparently that’s not important somehow).

Naturally, I find these ideas less than compelling.

As a Catholic, I think that married men--husbands and fathers--do indeed exercise a spiritual headship over the family.  This headship is based on the idea that the family is journeying together toward holiness, that each member is called to help in that journey and that ideally the father should be leading that journey.  That leadership should include setting an example for the whole family of Mass attendance, prayer, and following the teachings of the Church in his life; working alongside his wife to fulfill the important role of being the children’s first teachers in the faith; teaching his children (and in a special and important way, his sons) to respect and honor their mother and to give her the same lawful and diligent obedience they give him; and taking responsibility for the family’s well-being according to the best of his abilities and talents.

In Casti Connubii Pope Pius XI points out a couple of important things in this regard: one, that none of this means the husband gets to act like an autocratic dictator who treats his wife as if she is a child, and two, that in the cases, sadly not as rare as they should be, where the husband is failing to lead, the wife not only may but must do so in his place, and until (hopefully) he returns to a sense of duty and responsibility for his family.

Unfortunately, I get the feeling that some of my fellow Catholics (not this person necessarily, as I was unable to determine from our conversation) are not thinking at all of the spiritual leadership of the family when they speak positively about patriarchy, or wish for a return to it.  Rather, they are thinking of various ways in which societies were ordered in the past, and believing that our present societal ills could be fixed more or less instantly if we returned to some past era where men were in charge and women were more or less invisible.  And some of the Catholics who want this (which never ceases to surprise me) are women themselves.

Why would it not necessarily be a good thing for patriarchy to return?  First, it’s absolutely essential to define what one means by patriarchy.  I know, for instance, that what the Quiverfull Patriarchy Protestants mean by patriarchy is the absolute authority of the husband over the family, an authority which he retains over his sons at least until they move out of the family home (with his permission) and over his daughters, forever, until or unless they exchange his authority for that of a husband (again, with his permission, or even by his express command).  In this sort of patriarchy the wife is not treated like an adult human being but like a child who is always in danger of becoming rebellious, and the children are also not treated with the full dignity they deserve--they, too, are treated like infants or toddlers well into their adult years in terms of having any ability to make their own decisions.

When people point admiringly to the patriarchy exhibited by ancient Rome, they are forgetting that at times in ancient Rome the paterfamilias literally had the power of life and death over his children.  Or, if the patriarchy of Jane Austen’s England seems attractive, recall that it was not uncommon in those days for a husband to require his wife to ask for even such trifling amounts of money as she needed to purchase personal items, or to demand, quite angrily, an explanation from her in the event that the household expenses exceeded the sum of money he had allowed her for those expenses (even if he, himself, was in debt due to gambling and the money and jewelry he was lavishing on his latest mistress).

So I don’t think I can approve of a Catholic push to “restore patriarchy” without knowing what, exactly, my fellow Catholics want to restore, and why.  I have a suspicion that some Catholics believe that restoring patriarchy along the lines of some past society or other will solve every societal problem we currently have as if by magic, but that kind of magical thinking is unwarranted.  It is not as though when men ruled men didn’t sin, after all; no amount of insisting that men call all the shots all the time both in their own homes and in the world will erase the effects of Original Sin.

There are excellent reasons for those of us who have received the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony to encourage and foster our husbands’ spiritual headship of our families and to assist, from our rightful places at their sides, in the progress of our families on our journeys to holiness.  There are not such excellent reasons to make an idol out of some secular concept of patriarchy and pour one’s efforts into agitating for the reestablishment of such a thing.  There may even be good reasons not to do so at all.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

And another reason for that Theology of Women...

This must be “Theology of Women” week at And Sometimes Tea.

I don’t normally read Matt Walsh.  But when I saw people passing around links to this piece on my Facebook feed, I decided to read it.  And I’m glad I did:

In any case, I want to begin by telling you about a grown adult male who, last week, beat a woman to a bloody pulp in front of a cheering crowd. As he gloated about his physical dominance over this outmatched female, media outlets and advocacy groups hailed him as a pioneer.
In fact, beating up women is literally this dude’s job. His latest victim ended up with a concussion, a broken orbital socket, and several staples in her head. Yet, still, the man who stomps women and brags about it on Twitter, is, according to our progressive cultural ringleaders, a hero. A superhero. [...]
How can this startling contrast be explained?Well, our hero, Boyd Burton (alias “Fallon Fox”) went overseas and had his penis chopped off, then came back and became a “transgender female” MMA fighter.
Don’t you see? It’s OK for him to break a woman’s face because he likes to pretend he is one.
It’s that simple. Want to give a girl a concussion? Just slap on some lipstick, take a few hormone pills, and you’re good to go. Society won’t merely accept your behavior; it will sound the trumpets and roll out the red carpet for you. It will tell tales of your epic bravery and even hand you a coveted spot in the Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame.
Do you understand how this work? It’s cool to pound your fists into a woman’s cranium as long as you feel like a woman while you’re doing it.
That’s just good science.
Or “science,” as the case may be.
Welcome to contemporary America, my friends.

Read the whole thing here.

Yesterday, I was posting examples of why a really wrong idea about male headship, women’s submissiveness, and the tendency of certain men to see all women as future sexual temptresses, actual sexual temptresses, or former sexual temptresses, none of whom can’t be trusted not to flaunt their immodest clothing at virtuous men at every possible opportunity (including Latin Masses) has actually done some harm to Christian women who internalize this view of women as stubborn, rebellious renegades who will default into being sexual temptresses without the constant rule and governance of either their fathers or their husbands.

Today, I’m highlighting the other side of the chasm: when a really wrong idea about what men are and what women are makes some people write, with a straight face, that of course men can be pregnant and lactate and become La Leche teachers, or have surgery and become female MMA fighters despite the obvious benefits of a male bone structure and physiognomy when it comes to beating actual, real, natural-born women (I refuse to use the silly “cis” nonsense) to actual, real, concussed pulps.

It’s strange to contemplate, but we have become really far removed from knowing what men and women actually are.  The transgender movement is only the next step in a continuum that began with pitting women against our unborn children as if they were the enemy, and teaching women to hate our actual female bodies and natures.  And yet, to hear some Catholics and other Christians tell it, the way to fix all of that is to role-play “Little House on the Prairie” until Pa manages to horsewhip all that uppity feminism out of Ma and their daughters, who ought to revere and obey him as second only to God, all the time, no questions asked.

It would not help the real problems of the modern world for followers of Christ to adopt an exaggerated stereotype that treats women like dolls or infants while seeking to punish them for all the problems of feminism--or all the problems any specific man has had with actual real women, which sometimes gets confused.  But we can’t help the real problems of the modern world, either, by solemnly agreeing that a man who has a specific male organ removed has suddenly and magically turned all his other organs into female ones: his heart, his lungs, his muscles, his skeletal system, are still all those of a male human being, and he remains a man, no matter how many female garments he uses or female pronouns he adopts.

What would help would be an ongoing and systematic exploration of just what the Church teaches makes women unique and different, how these qualities go beyond stereotypes or roles--e.g., how being a woman is something we are, not something we do or some way we act or some garment(s) we wear.  In other words, what would help would be that Theology of Women some say the Church doesn’t really need at all.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Addendum: another reason for a theology of women

I was going to post this as an update to the post below this one, about why we need a theology of women in the Church.  But I think this needs its own post: a priest in Phoenix has decided to reinstate the ancient liturgical custom of men and women sitting on different sides of the church during Mass.  Here’s why, from Father’s list:

1) Men can identify with St. Joseph and try to be holy like him.
2) I contend that it is good so that we men are not distracted by the women around them and are not sexually tempted by their sexy clothing in church. (You have no idea how many times men confess sexaul temptations in church by how the women are dressed).One friend of me told me he no longer went to church because he was always distracted by the women in front of him, especially their beautify hair.
3) Boys can identify with their dads and learn how to be a man who prays.
4) Women can identify with Our Lady and be holy like she is.
5) It helps women to be themselves and to not have to show off to get men’s attention. They can pray in peace.
6) Girls can identify with their mothers and how women pray.

Why do we need a theology of women in the Church? Because when a priest who serves a traditional Catholic community, celebrates the Extraordinary Form Mass, and writes blog posts which include charming lines like this: "Thank God Padre Pio died in 1968 before the real immodest dressing took place. Immodest feminist women would chase Padre Pio out of church today...” also seems to think that a big problem at his own Masses (Latin Masses!  E.F. Masses!) are all those immodestly dressed sexy female temptresses with their “beautify" (sic) hair showing off to get men’s attention instead of praying such that putting men on one side of the church and women on the other is a really good idea--well, clearly something should be articulated along the lines that such deep suspicion of the motives of women who are coming to E.F. Masses (often with nursing infants and toddlers in tow) is really not actually Catholic thinking at all.

One reason why we need a theology of women

I read this last week, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head:
Whenever I talk about my escape from the Quiverfull movement, Christians immediately dismiss my experience by saying, “Your problem was not with Jesus or Christianity. Your problem was that you were following an extreme, legalistic cult. Let me tell you about my personal relationship with Jesus.” It can be extremely frustrating. I was in a close, personal relationship with Jesus for over 25 years. But rather than telling you about the beginning of my relationship with this man, I am going to spare you the long story and skip straight to the break up.
The end of my life as a “Bride of Christ” came after a visit to Bright Horizons, which is the local domestic violence shelter in my hometown of Norfolk, Nebraska. I went there for help in filing a restraining order against my husband, whose emotional and mental abuse against me and my children had escalated to the point that I was in the midst of a complete mental and physical breakdown. He had taken 6 of our 7 children to a town three hours from our home and was preventing me from having any contact with them unless I agreed to his terms for our “reconciliation.” [...]
Coercion and threats … “No,” I told Deb, “he never threatened me.” I *willinging* went along with all the harsh demands of the Quiverfull lifestyle, and in many instances, I was the one who pushed patriarchy and headship ON HIM. Why would I do that?
Because I believed our family had an ENEMY who was determined to steal, kill, and destroy our souls, and the souls of our children, for all eternity! Our only protection from spiritual disaster, was within that one little secret spot of safety which Corrie ten Boom called, “The Hiding Place.” “The Hiding Place” isn’t any physical location … instead, it is a very specific, very narrow position … directly in the center of God’s will. There, and only there, we could safely trust in God’s protection.
He never had to raise his voice to keep me and the children in our place. And when he did raise his voice, well that was “speaking the truth in love.” When he constantly criticized and complained about all the ways in which the children and I failed to live up to God’s perfect standards, he was “hating the sin, but loving the sinner.” He didn’t have to brandish a weapon in order to control our every action, indeed even our thoughts and feelings. All he had to do was fulfill his God-appointed role of Patriarch; to love us as Christ loves the church.
A lot of people seemed to read this and then go exactly where this woman, Vyckie Garrison, said they would: they told her she was following a false branch of Christianity, with a demonstrably false Christ at the center of it all, and that was the real problem here.  I believe that is true--but at the same time, it isn’t the whole truth.
The whole truth includes the uncomfortable reality that for a far-too-long period, Christians of all sorts, including some Catholics, had no real problem projecting a similar view of marriage and especially women and of their role in married life upon the women in their churches.  It wasn’t too hard to find Scripture references and bits out of history to support the idea that women really were inferior to men and that their salvation depended on their humble subservience to the appropriate male authority, whether that authority was her father, her husband, or her spiritual leader.
If anything, the Catholic Church offered a slight glimpse of a reality that didn’t include this exact paradigm, because a religious sister or nun was subject to her Mother Superior.  This didn’t mean that her father confessor and/or the priest who said Mass at the convent didn’t have authority, too, but it did mean that the idea that women couldn’t run things without male dominance was going to fall a little flat (especially in parishes where a convent of active sisters assisted in the rectory and school and, truth be told, pretty much ran things in many places).
What frustrates me is that there are Catholic men out there today who would say that Mrs. Garrison’s problem was just feminism, plain and simple, and that her inability to accept her husband’s headship over the family was clearly the cause of all the tension and angst in the relationship, not that her church’s idea of a husband’s headship goes far beyond what the Catholic Church teaches.  I’ve quoted this before, but as Pope Pius XI wrote in Casti Connubii:
27. This subjection, however, does not deny or take away the liberty which fully belongs to the woman both in view of her dignity as a human person, and in view of her most noble office as wife and mother and companion; nor does it bid her obey her husband's every request if not in harmony with right reason or with the dignity due to wife; nor, in fine, does it imply that the wife should be put on a level with those persons who in law are called minors, to whom it is not customary to allow free exercise of their rights on account of their lack of mature judgment, or of their ignorance of human affairs. But it forbids that exaggerated liberty which cares not for the good of the family; it forbids that in this body which is the family, the heart be separated from the head to the great detriment of the whole body and the proximate danger of ruin. For if the man is the head, the woman is the heart, and as he occupies the chief place in ruling, so she may and ought to claim for herself the chief place in love.
28. Again, this subjection of wife to husband in its degree and manner may vary according to the different conditions of persons, place and time. In fact, if the husband neglect his duty, it falls to the wife to take his place in directing the family. But the structure of the family and its fundamental law, established and confirmed by God, must always and everywhere be maintained intact .
The kind of subjection demanded by the Quiverfull patriarchs is at odds with this idea of the true hierarchy of the family, especially in the sense that the wife is not to be treated by a minor, that she is not required to obey every request her husband makes, and that the real liberty which truly belongs to her should not be denied nor taken away.  But this Catholic understanding of the hierarchy of the family is also under attack from two sides in our own culture: from secular feminism, which views the very idea of even this sort of mutual respect and understanding with suspicion, and from what I called “Internet Catholic Masculinism,” which, sadly, exists in the real world as well.

One reason why I think that we really do need a theology of women in the Church is precisely so that these sorts of teachings from the past can be combined with more recent encyclicals in order to illustrate to the patriarchal, Quiverfull, and similar movements within Christianity that the idea that this way of viewing the relationship between men and women, with men the perpetual adult in the relationship and women the grown-up child who must always fight her “rebellious" spirit and her desire to have a say in things as if that desire is wrong somehow, is in fact not consistent with true Christianity.  It’s easy to tell women in the Quiverfull movement that the real abuses many of them have endured were not particularly Christian.  It’s harder, though, when some of the men in our own parishes assume that what the Quiverfulls believe--all of it--is really a more traditional and more appropriate way to view women, and that women who object are not actually thinking with the Church, when, in fact, we are.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Women of Texas: time to boycott skirts and dresses?

Guess what, my fellow female Texans?  A Texas court has upheld the right of creepy perverts to take pictures up your skirt while you are in public:
A court has upheld the constitutional right of Texans to photograph strangers as an essential component of freedom of speech - even if those images should happen to be surreptitious “upskirt” pictures of women taken for the purposes of sexual gratification.
Criticising an anti-“creepshot” law as a “paternalistic” intrusion on a person’s right to be aroused, the Texas court of criminal appeals struck down part of the state’s “improper photography or visual recording” statute which banned photographing, broadcasting or transmitting a visual image of another person without the other’s consent and with the intention to “arouse or gratify … sexual desire”.
The case stemmed from the arrest of a man in his early 50s named Ronald Thompson who was stopped in 2011 at Sea World in San Antonio after parents reported him swimming with and taking pictures of children aged 3-11. The local district attorney’s office said that he tried to delete the photographs before his camera was seized and a police examination of it revealed 73 images of children in swimsuits “with most of the photographs targeting the children’s breast and buttocks areas”. [...]
Attorneys for Thompson said that the statute was “the stuff of Orwellian thought-crime” and that it did not distinguish “upskirt” or “peeping Tom” photography from “merely photographing a girl in a skirt walking down the street”, so in theory it could criminalise the likes of paparazzi journalists.
The appeals judges appeared to agree, stating that although “upskirt” type-images are intolerable invasions of privacy, the wording of the law is too broad. Presiding judge Sharon Keller wrote in the court’s opinion published on Wednesday: “Protecting someone who appears in public from being the object of sexual thoughts seems to be the sort of ‘paternalistic interest in regulating the defendant’s mind’ that the First Amendment was designed to guard against.”
The judges said that photographs were “inherently expressive”, like other artistic mediums such as films or books, and so the process of creating them, as well as the images themselves, was part of an American’s right to free speech because “thought is intertwined with expression”.

So, Texas moms, just to be clear: if you let your child play outside in your neighborhood alone, you can be arrested, but the creepy guy wandering through your neighborhood taking pictures of you in your summer skirt and your daughters in their swimsuits as they splash in a front-yard sprinkler has the right to use those photos for his own (and possibly others’) sexual gratification.  Because free speech, or something.
And if you’re on your way into Sunday Mass in your best conservative Sunday skirt or dress, and a creepy dude posing as a lawn-care guy manages to get a snapshot up your skirt--hey, that’s his right, and who are you to object?

Maybe all the women of Texas ought to wear pants in public until further notice.