With stories like this, people are always outraged at the judge for making such an ‘obviously’ absurd ruling. But judges – at least at that level – are there to rule on what the law currently says, not to challenge it. In her summation, the judge actually writes “It is not for the court to decide whether the Legislature’s enumeration of lewd conduct is wise or sound policy” (which is judge-speak for “This is some bullshit, all’y’all, but my hands are tied.”)
More to the point, the charges weren’t that the woman was simply topless in front of her kids, but rather that she was drunk, that she deliberately exposed herself to them, that she was aware that the children were embarrassed by her actions, and that she told her husband that she’d only put her shirt back on if he showed her his penis (all this comes from the linked “Salt Lake Tribune” article, which is unusually comprehensive and informative for an article of this kind).
Obviously, I have no idea if the prosecutors’ allegations are true. Still, if they are true, then it’s clear how her actions might have touched a third rail that led to the invocation of Utah’s not-terribly-progressive laws on ‘lewdness in the presence of children’. And whether or not those are good laws, they are what they are, and that’s what the judge has to rule on.
In a sane society (and this is where the IMHO starts), this wouldn’t even be grounds for a court case. Someone – perhaps the ex-wife – would just have taken the woman aside and said “Look, I take your point about the double standards on male and female nudity, and I agree that the sexualization of the female breast is ridiculous, but you need to dial the rest of that stuff back a bit in front of the kids, m’kay?” And she’d have then told the kids “Listen, sorry about the other day, mom was tired and a little trashed. I’m sorry if I embarrassed you. Breasts are natural and fine. So is sex, and one day it will make you as happy as it makes mom and dad. But you probably didn’t need to see all that right then and there. My bad.” And that would be the end of it.
But we don’t live in a sane society, so we get weird prudishness about body parts and sexuality, and police and prosecutors and roomfuls of lawyers, and kids whose lives will be much more disrupted by seeing step-mom facing prison time than they are by seeing her flashing them and talking dirty to her husband.