Sunday, September 27, 2009

No Place for Children

Guy W. Farmer is apparently a long-time critic of Burning Man, and a new column published today attacks the festival as being a magnet for sex offenders.
So where was Child and Family Services? Don't ask. When I visited Burning Man last year I saw a naked middle-aged man who could have been a child molester cavorting dangerously near “Kidsville.” My official escorts laughed it off, explaining that everyone goes naked at Burning Man, “the way God intended.” OK, but I don't think God intends to make young children readily available to sex offenders on public lands managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which makes more than $1 million a year off a Black Rock Desert bacchanal that grosses $12 million to $15 million each year for its Bay Area organizers.
I'm not recommending that people take their kids to Burning Man, but this sort of hyperventilating over sex offenders is not only overblown, it's patently dishonest. Farmer cites an example of the arrest of a 20 year-old man arrested on a warrant for some fondling incidents in Texas unrelated to Burning Man, and then he exclaims that "he wasn't the only sex offender at the event" without presenting any evidence to support this claim.

Attendance at the 2009 Burning Man festival peaked at an estimated 43,435 people on one day. That would make the event roughly the size of Rockville Maryland, a very upscale and respectable city in affluent Montgomery County, which has a registered sex offender list with 55 people, making the ratio of residents to offenders 1104 to 1. By contrast, Burning man has a 43,435 to 1 ratio, if you go by Farmer's claims.

If you accept Farmer's argument, then you must conclude that the city of Rockville is no place for children.

Farmer's beef with Burning Man seems to be primarily that the festival is held on public lands, and his dishonest use of statistics is exactly how the California Department of Parks and Recreation has attacked the nude sunbathers at San Onofre Beach.

What is really at the heart of these attacks is the nudity - some people cannot accept the unclothed human body as the natural state. They believe that the addition of clothing, even a scanty bathing suit, will magically transform people into law-abiding citizens, while ignoring the fact that virtually all crimes are committed by people wearing clothes.

More and more nude events are being held on public lands -the World Naked Bike Ride, Spencer Tunick's photo installations, Bare-to-Breakers, Burning Man and the Fremont Solstice Parade, and more. Not only are these events well-attended and widely accepted, they have become modern traditions.

In a recent post on her Open Source Sex blog, Violet Blue wrote, "Those who can’t be bothered to understand can just suck it up. Or, they can live in the present with the rest of us and quite worrying what people think. This is the new school of life."

Now Violet is talking about sex, but the same attitude can and should be adopted by naturists in gaining more widespread acceptance. As The Academic Naturist recently wrote in his Guerrilla Naturism essay, "I believe that the primary reason that people don't like us is because they don't understand us, followed by the opinion that we are a rare group. The solution is to educate. We need to show that there are a lot of us, that nudity itself isn't bad, and that we are good people just like them."

I don't think the folks at Burning Man give a hoot what people like Guy W. Farmer think, and have no interest in educating anybody. Same for the folks at Bare to Breakers and other events. Much of this public nudity has little to do with defined naturism - it's a form of rebellion, a pushing back against the society and culture which has turned the human body into a product, something to be adorned, altered and admired for its appearance, and not its essence.

So Guy W. Farmer can rant and rail all he wants against Burning Man and other events with public nudity, and cry that they are somehow dangerous for children, but he ignores the overwhelming numbers of young people who are participating in these events. No place for children, Guy? These are your children, and they're not happy with the schizophrenic culture your generation has created, a society steeped in pornography and sexual imagery, yet still sexually repressed and immature.

So remember, Guy - at Burning Man, they are burning you.



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1 comment:

thomas said...

It seems to me that a person (a Guy?) who sees a sex-offender on every corner, probsbly has some of those tendencies himself. "A middle aged man who could have been a sex offender"? I never thoought of middle age as a requirement for being a sex offender or I would have taken midde age more seriously. This all reminds me of the Red Scare of the 50s: A Red under every bed. Is Guy Farmer the new McCarthy?