Monday, July 06, 2009

Worst Case Scenario

Swimming pool at the Monts de Bussy Naturist c...Image via Wikipedia

I've been doing a lot of thinking about the storm surrounding Jasmine Trail Nudist Resort in North Carolina, and I have a lot of questions. You can refresh your memory by reading my takes here and here, and the news reports here and here.

Why hasn't Johnny Clevinger been charged with manufacturing child pornography?

What was the nature of the complaints which called police to the Clevinger home a dozen times, and who were the complaintants?

In the "hundreds of photos" found of other children, were they nudes? If so, did Clevinger take these photos, or are they from books and magazines?

The reports say that Clevinger was planning on making a visit to Jasmine Trail, but that he was arrested before he could go. Was Clevinger a member, and had he visited there in the past? Did he visit other nudist or naturist venues?

Why did Jasmine Trail remove all nude photos of both adults and children from their website? Were they advised by an attorney, or by AANR, or did they just panic?

Why was Clevinger's bond increased from $50,000 to $250,000?

Why is Jasmine Trail the subject of an investigation if there have been absolutely no complaints?

Since there have been no complaints, why does Department of Social Services director Bob Johnson say that parents who take their children to Jasmine Trail should be charged with neglect and that it would be "a very easy case to prove?"

Since there have been no complaints, why is District Attorney Scott Thomas planning on asking lawmakers to place age restrictions on nudist resorts?

One possible answer to all these questions comes to mind.

The DA and police were probably frustrated with the numerous complaints against Clevinger, which were likely over nude photos which didn't rise to the level of real child pornography, which is probably why he was never arrested before now, and why he has not been charged with kiddie porn.

Instead, the DA decided to charge Clevinger with "taking indecent liberties with a minor and first degree sexual exploitation of a minor", focusing more on the man's behavior rather than on the photos themselves.

Knowing that this would be more difficult to prove in court, the DA decided to ratchet up his investigation to include Jasmine Trail Nudist Campground, even calling in the FBI in order to lend a sense of urgency to his crusade.

If he can convince the public that naturism is a sexual behavior, and that naturist parents are guilty of neglect, and that nude photos on a resort's website are exploitative, then that strengthens his case against Clevinger, who is described as a naturist parent.

To me, this appears to be a classic witch hunt, in concert with a local television station which has provided sensationalism and a bias against naturism designed to rouse the rabble to stand behind this DA who promises to protect the children of North Carolina.

He's also planning on consulting with the Attorney General and lawmakers to write new legislation against naturists. This guy is covering all the bases, hoping at least something will stick so he can use it against Clevinger.

This is all my opinion, of course, but it seems to make some sense. Take note that the stories never refer to Clevinger as a pedophile, child molester or a pornographer - instead, words like "inappropriate", "indecent liberties", "exploitation", and "intent" are thrown around.

Worst case scenario is that this district attorney succeeds in hanging Clevinger for having non-sexual nude photos of a child (or children) by taking down Jasmine Trail and legislating nudism in the process. While Mark Foley failed in demonizing nudist resorts in Florida, this DA could succeed because he's creating a climate of anti-nudism - witness the recent online unscientific poll which found that nearly 70% of respondents support age restrictions at nudist venues. The poll proves nothing since it could have been bombed by a mobilized effort to skew the results, but anyone watching the TV station or reading their website will now believe that the vast majority of people want children out of nudism altogether.

The first shots in the public relations war over this particular case have been fired, all from one side. Do nudist and naturist organizations have the mettle and means to fight back? Time will tell.

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