Thursday, August 20, 2009

"Please don't let him walk around naked"

I am not an advocate of random solo nudity by people in public because it's too hostile and aggressive in a society so deeply invested in its own clothing. Walking around nude near schools or shopping malls is tantamount to yelling "fire" in a crowded theatre - you will only create a tempest, and attract the attention of police.

Nudists are not exhibitionists, as this article suggests, nor are they looking for trouble. All nudists and naturists really want is some public land set aside for nude recreation, a few stretches of beaches, or some parkland. Put up signs to warn people to expect nudity, and let people enjoy their natural freedom.

So when someone pushes the textile envelope, like the 66 year-old man who walked nude near an Oregon school, it sends the wrong message, and only serves to perpetuate the myth that nudists are weirdos, or even perverts.

And worst of all, this sort of "in-your-face" public nudity brings out emotional, passionate arguments, which always manage to sway public opinion, and push public officials to seek new legislation prohibiting people from wearing no clothes.
One woman recounted how her granddaughter was frightened by the naked, 66-year-old man walking near her elementary school in June. Ashland School District employee Lori Davis, who helped calm the girl, said the officer who arrived at the scene told them nothing could be done unless the man was visibly aroused.

The grandmother, who asked that her name not be used to protect her granddaughter's privacy, read a letter to the council from the girl. The child wrote that seeing the man made her feel gross inside.

"Will you please don't let him walk around naked because I wouldn't want him to scare my little sisters," the girl wrote.
For the record, the man who strolled nude through this town did not misbehave, or perform any lewd acts. Instead of reassuring this little girl that the sight of a nude human being is not something that should scar her for life, the grandmother has actually encouraged her to be afraid, to be grossed out, and to reject nudity as a societal evil, without even knowing why.

Children should never be used by parents or politicians to further legislative agendas. It's fine to kiss babies on the campaign trail, but it's not acceptable to use the words and emotions of children in making policy.

We can only hope that the members of the Ashland City Council will use common sense and not try and expand its partial ban on public nudity. The fact that they have instructed the city attorney to reseach the legality of the current ordinance shows that perhaps they are looking for a way out of dealing with the issue. Passing a potentially unconstitutional ordinance based on the harmless nudity of one man, and the words of a child, is simply foolish, and a waste of the public's time and money.

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