Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Compromise?

In seeking acceptance for nude recreation on public lands, nudists are not necessarily seeking a compromise, they are seeking just a sliver of the vast real estate of America on which to be naked and free. One can only compromise when both parties come at an issue from a position of strength, and common sense dictates that meeting somewhere in the middle is a sensible outcome for all.

Nudists have the negotiating power of a gnat.

In Ashland, Oregon, public nudity has not been illegal, but recent events including a man who walked naked near a school created community alarm, and a new law was passed to ban the exposure of body parts within the city limits.

In a situation like this, there is no room for compromise. It's basically one man versus an entire city.

But Joe Hudgins, a retired instructor and resident of Ashland, believes that the nudity ban could not only be unconstitutional, but expensive as well.
A political/social/artistic event is scheduled for Ashland later this year. It is to be called "Buns Not Bombs" and will include public nudity. It is expected to violate Ashland's public nudity law. The police have said they will have no choice other than to enforce the law and arrest anyone who violates it.That's when it starts costing money. Hundreds of personnel hours will be diverted from normal duties and expended arresting, booking, incarcerating, trying and convicting or acquitting everyone who is arrested. Fines collected from those who are convicted will not cover all the costs incurred. The shortfall will be made up by the taxpayers, Ashland residents, and that's not all.

The ACLU has been watching this situation very carefully and is preparing to file a lawsuit against Ashland if it determines that anyone's First Amendment rights were violated. Such a lawsuit could take years to resolve and will cost Ashland residents hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process.
Hudgins goes on to suggest that all that is needed is come "courage, some patience and a lot of tolerance" instead of this unnecessary and costly law. He logically outlines a scenario for keeping nudity under control, such as public notices when nude protests are scheduled to take place, and to prohibit people from being naked near busy roads and public buildings so that traffic accidents and other dangerous distractions can be avoided.

All well and good, and it makes a lot of sense, but the problem with nudity in American society is that people who oppose any and all forms of unclothed humanity are not rational. They are filled with religious beliefs, deep-seated fears, and a sense of righteousness which trumps all common sense and willingness to compromise.

To these people, the sight of female breasts, or a male penis, is a sign that we are on the road to Sodom and Gomorrah, and God's wrath will surely smite us all.

I applaud Mr. Hudgins and his fair-mindedness. Surely we need more people like him. But the idea of the government actually working to aid and abet people who wish to be nude in public is radical.

In cases like the World Naked Bike Ride and the Spencer Tunick installations, the sheer numbers of participants makes it difficult for local authorities to do anything except watch and keep the peace. In some communities, like Boulder, Colorado, bans are being enacted to specifically prohibit nudity at public events, so the WNBR and Tunick would likely create an ugly confrontation with police if they were to go there.

If anything, local governments are getting tougher in the wake of the proliferation of nudity at public events.

The only way I can see for public nudity to become "legal" is if the ACLU manages to prove that banning clothes-free protests is unconstitutional. I believe they have a fair shot at making that case, as long as groups get a permit, and the public is warned in advance that nudity will be part of the event, so anyone potentially offended could simply avoid the area or look away.

It will be much harder for the ACLU to prove that nudity is a civil liberty, although many nudists and naturists believe that it most certainly is. But that's really not what nudists want from society - what we are seeking, as I stated before, is just a tiny piece of public land here and there in order to be nude and free.

Unfortunately, the very, very few who wish to wander about nude near schools are just creating hysteria and forcing the hands of government officials who always err on the side of caution in enacting new legislation. It's better politics to side with the churches and schools than with the naked people.

3 comments:

thomas said...

"the problem with nudity in American society is that people who oppose any and all forms of unclothed humanity are not rational. They are filled with religious beliefs, deep-seated fears, and a sense of righteousness which trumps all common sense and willingness to compromise.
To these people, the sight of female breasts, or a male penis, is a sign that we are on the road to Sodom and Gomorrah, and God's wrath will surely smite us all."

That may be the best description of the opposition to nudism you've ever written. These are the people many of us were writing about. The people who, when faced with a rating system for nudist resorts will scream PERVERTS, WEIRDOS at the top of their lungs and brand all of us with the same brush. Their zeal and lack of common sense will prevent them from seeing any gray in the ratings. If one resort is "Adult" then all are adult and perverted and, in their view, potential child molesters. They are a minority, but unfortunately, a very vocal and influential minority. They didn't invent the tyranny of the minority but they have fine tuned it.

Nudiarist said...

Thomas,

The problem with your argument is that many nudist resorts are already adult. The fact that there is no clear designation between adult nudism and family nudism is part of the reason the general public sees all nudist resorts as being the same.

Anonymous said...

My thoughts are we are in a period of extreme conservative veiws. I had thought that with the last election cycle we would be beyond this point however the opposite seems to have occured. We are now at a point where civil disagreement is impossible and to express any other veiw will elicit an extreme response. Like it or not nudism or naturism if you prefer is considered something no conservative would try. I know that there are some conservative nudists however the public perception is that we are all a bunch of liberal ex-hippies. So that being the case I feel we should just embrace that point of veiw and just press on and attempt to start a movement that will push the issue on out into the public eye. We need more advertisement more awareness. There is an old saying that any publicity is good publicity and like all sayings there is a grain of truth in it. Recent events such as the world skinny dip and the world naked bike ride are exactly the type of things that draw the younger crowd it is seen as something like harmless fun. I think our clubs need to reach out to the media and even civic groups in their areas to raise public awareness of any similar events.