Friday, January 15, 2010

Is Stephen Gough Winning the War by Losing the Battles?

It has been reported that British man Stephen Gough, also known as "The Naked Rambler", could spend the rest of his life in prison if he refuses to wear pants in public. The UK has already spent $400,000 keeping him in jail.

While Gough has been languishing in jail for the better part of the last six years, several participants in sculptor Antony Gormley's "The Fourth Plinth" project in Trafalgar Square used partial and complete nudity in their performances. Only one of the plinth occupants was asked by police to cover up, but later it was revealed that it is "not an offense to be simply naked in the U.K.", and the police had exceeded their powers.

Eventually the persecution of Gough will rise to the level of being absurd. That tipping point might be near, but there needs to be real support from British naturists. Chris Lamb, who joined Gough once on a "naked ramble", had this to say, "It seems a terrible tragic waste for that to happen. It really shouldn't be necessary but I can understand why the Scottish authorities get so upset. They feel their authority is being challenged."

It's time for British Naturism to challenge authority in support of Stephen Gough. Maybe he's not the poster child for naturism that they are looking for, maybe he's a bit too stubborn and eccentric, but there's an important battle here to be won. If 100 nude people march in protest of Gough's incarceration, perhaps it will spark public opinion and make authorities change their mind about keeping this man in jail for his entire life simply because he wants to live in the nude.

The question is: can British naturists afford to ignore Gough any longer without harming their own personal liberties? The longer he remains in jail, the more a person's right to be nude erodes.

Free Stephen Gough, now.


Howard said...

Although "in the UK", he is locked up in Scotland where the law is different from that In England. The Fourth Plinth took place in London where it is not illegal to be nude in public.


Nudiarist said...

It is my understanding it that the laws are essentially the same, only enforced more strictly in Scotland. I think Gough is currently in jail for breaching the peace and not the actual nudity. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.

Anonymous said...

The laws aren't essentially the same. The English and Scottish legal systems are separate and administered separately. In England a few years ago there was quite a fuss over a new sexual offences law which would have effectively outlawed nudity, but the likes of BN lobbied successfully for the wording to be amended so that a specific sexual act would have to take place, not just simple nakedness (I'm simplifying things a bit here). England and Scotland both have breach of the peace" laws; in England there has to be a specific complaint before the polcie can use them, whereas in Scotland the police cabn be the complainant as well as the enforcer. When Steve Gough made his Lands End to John O'Groats walks he managed to traverse England with little or no police interference - he was repeatedly jailed in Scotland, and it's Scotland which insists on having police waiting outside the prison so he can eb rearrested as soon as he's released.

Peter in Cheltenahm UK

NudistStop said...

Not being from Scotland or UK, I am unfamilar with their laws regarding public nudity. All I can say is the I have admired Gough's brave and principled demonstrations of civil disobedience over the last several years and think it is high time that nudists WORLDWIDE stand up and show their support for his efforts. Only then will the local authorities, legislators and justices understand that their oppressive stand on this issue is wrong headed, outdated and should be abandoned for a more enlightened approach to non-sexual public nudity.