Thursday, March 10, 2011

The "Nudists' Bill of Rights"

The American Association of Nude Recreation is urging people to sign its "Nudists' Bill of Rights" which is online here.

There are 10 stated rights. Not sure why there have to be ten, but Moses and David Letterman have set a precedent for these type of lists, so there you are.

Among the "rights" are "the right to assemble in the nude within appropriate settings" and "the right to responsibly enjoy being nude within appropriate locations on public lands". Each "right" has the word "nudists" as first.

Unbelievably, AANR's initial wording on the list made it appear to be for AANR members only, but they quickly came to their senses and changed it to read "including many members" of the organization.

Reaction to the list has been mixed. On the forum, member Stu2630 noted the following:
I think there are too many vagaries in this and AANR should be clearer. For instance, "to responsibly enjoy nudity within their homes and on private property" - what EXACTLY does that mean? When is it responsible, and when is it not? Similarly, "Nudists have the right to assemble in the nude within appropriate settings" - who decides what are "appropriate settings"? The same applies to "Nudists have the right to responsibly enjoy being nude within appropriate locations on public lands."...this wording appears to suggest that nudists are the ones who should decide for themselves what is and is not responsible or appropriate. No politician is going to subscribe to that as it is, so it needs a re-think in my view if it is to be taken seriously.
Member Agde added the following:
I doubt the "Nudists' Bill of Rights" was vetted by a lawyer, let alone an editor. "Rights" are not given to specific groups in this way. Things like "the rights of children" or "women's rights" are a clarification or elaboration of general "rights". Conditionality in "rights" is always problematic, even more so if blurring adjectives like "appropriate" get appended. Trying to edit the "nudist rights" into actual rights -- eg. "3. All citizens have the right to be nude within their homes or on their own property... 7. All citizens have the right to be nude on public lands... -- quickly makes it obvious that this "Nudists' Bill of Rights" needs to be re-thought and rewritten from scratch. Try replacing "nudist" with your favourite religious group or political party to see what I mean.
From member Kouak:
I really don't know what is the purpose of the Bill Of Rights. It seems from the preamble that it is just listing what "rights" the laws and courts have given nudists. But it does not even list rights that have been given that are nudist-related. For example, nudity is legal in Oregon in public. It is legal in other places for women to be top-free.
Not one member on this particular forum thread made any successful rebuttal to any of these points. The basic argument for signing the "Nudists' Bill of Rights" was that it "couldn't hurt", or it's the "right thing to do".

AANR does not state the purpose for drafting this list, but a trusted source in AANR told me that the organization is hoping for "well over 100,000 signatures so we can show our strength to US and Canadian Governments".

I just don't see any politician or governing body taking such a list seriously, especially since the "signatures" are all done online and can be easily faked. There is an email verification process to validate the signature, but again, anyone can get an email address, and most people seem to have several these days.

As of this writing AANR has 879 signatures. Charlie Sheen has 2 1/2 million followers on Twitter. Do the math.

I'm sure it's well-intentioned, but the list merely states the obvious and does not further the cause of nudists and naturists in society. To me is seems to be a "feel good" laundry list, a declaration of pride for living a clothes-free life, and there's nothing inherently wrong with that. Nudists need to feel better about themselves and not feel isolated from the rest of the general textile-wearing public.

As Stuart Smalley once said, "it's easier to put on slippers than to carpet the entire world."

I'll say now that I went ahead and signed the "Bill". I question the substance, but sometimes ya just gotta go with the flow.

But I do want to take issue with some of the wording.

First, even though I call this blog "'Diary of a Nudist", the word "nudist" is way overused in this "Bill". Substitute the word "people" instead. Insisting on "rights" for one social subset without applying them to society at large is a mistake, and exclusionary.

And when you do substitute the word "people", some of the "rights" read rather nonsensically, such as "Nudists People have the right to hold their values and beliefs".

And by continually referring to "nudists", the list further marginalizes anyone living the clothes-free lifestyle from everyone else. Why are nudists so different that they deserve these 10 rights over anyone else? Don't non-nudists have these rights, too?

One of the basic tenets of nudism is that the people you meet are equalized by the lack of clothing. One cannot tell a corporate executive from a janitor (well, you can if you check out their RV). No, the repetition of the word "nudists" is divisive, it is the written equivalent of the privacy fences which surround nudist campgrounds and resorts.

Then we come to the word "appropriate" which appears two times in the list, referring to "settings" and "locations on public lands".  Just who decides where appropriate settings are? Was San Onofre beach an inappropriate setting? After all, AANR did not fight for that clothing-optional piece of public land, preferring instead to "negotiate" with the California Department of Parks and Recreation while the Naturist Action Committee took the case to court.

How has all of that negotiation worked out? Any progress on finding any public lands that the DPR is willing to designate as "appropriate" for nude recreation?

I didn't think so.

So what is appropriate? Are nude beaches appropriate? How about remote hiking trails? Hot springs?  Old swimming holes?  The streets of San Francisco? The picture window in your living room?  The back yard of your condo? Who makes this decision? If governments make nudity illegal in all areas, is there no longer an appropriate place for nude recreation?

Way too vague.

The only "right" with any teeth is number eight, which states that "Nudists have the right to be free from adverse actions by their employers as a result of their lawful enjoyment of nudity when away from work."

But let's make it simpler. "People should not be discriminated against by any employer due to lifestyle, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation". There are many people who are discriminated against, not just nudists.

You want to really make a difference? Work to get nudists/naturists to be recognized as a minority group, to be protected against discrimination due to prejudice against the lifestyle and beliefs. Truly, achieving this would be the only "right" necessary, making the "Nudists' Bill of Rights" null and void. It's already moot anyway because most of the "rights" in the declaration are granted by the Constitution of the United States anyway to all law-abiding citizens.

But ten is such a nice, neat number.

But go ahead and sign the "Nudists Bill of Rights". It's fraught with both vagaries and obviousness, and is not likely to make a whit of difference to any government or politician. But you might feel a little better standing up for yourself as a nudist or naturist.

It can't hurt.

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