Monday, July 20, 2009

The Legacy of Stephen Gough

Stephen Gough, Great Britain's "Naked Rambler", has been jailed once again for a breach of the peace.
Standing in the dock naked, Gough compared himself to other martyrs from the past.

He said: "People who have brought great change often have to go to prison first. People often have to go to prison for many years before others see the light."

However, Sheriff MacFarlane, after being told the bill for dealing with Gough was several hundred thousand pounds, said: "Would you like to estimate how much it has cost as a drain on the public purse to keep you in prison?
The sheriff offered Gough a chance to walk free on the condition he would simply put on clothes, but it was refused. It is reported that Gough has not worn clothes for six years.

British authorities need to take a deep breath and stand back from this situation. What possible purpose does it to incarcerate this man, who has done no harm to anyone, but simply wants to walk about nude? It's a classic case of law enforcement officials failing to serve the public interest, and the violating rights of the individual.

Take note that there is NO LAW AGAINST BEING NUDE IN PUBLIC IN THE UNITED KINGDOM. It is only illegal if the nudity is used to "harass, alarm or distress" others, and there is no evidence that Gough has used his nude body in such a manner. This is a clear case of persecution, there is no logic to spending vast amounts of money to "protect" the public from seeing something that they all witness when they get into the bath, or look into a mirror when changing clothes.

Gough has been painted as a kook and a menace to society. Yes, he's stubborn, committed to a fault to his cause, but there appears to be truth when he states that he is "becoming more sure of myself rather than the other way around."

Gough is becoming a symbol for how modern society views the human body. Something which should be embraced is now condemned, a symptom of centuries of textile culture, religious dogma, and archaic laws.

"Free Stephen Gough" should be a mantra for every citizen of the British Empire who value their own freedoms and rights. If they can jail a man indefinitely simply for being nude, they can do far worse to anyone who dares challenge other cultural norms.

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