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I got pulled over by a policeman on the side of the road the other week.
He took my breath. He thought I was drunk.
One of the reasons he thought I was drunk, was because I was nude.
As he approached my car window I covered my penis with my towel.
The conversation went something like:
Policeman: “Why are you naked mate?”
My reply: “I love being nude.” (I reveled in my honesty and pride.)
Policeman: (In expression of shock and unreasonableness) “Did you know that trucks and SUVs of a sufficient height with children in it can see you nude?
My thoughts: Why would children care?
Policeman: “What if you suddenly had an accident and had to get out of the car to help someone on the road?”
My thoughts: If someone’s life needs saving I’m pretty sure nudity is the last thing people are going to be concerned about.
My reply: “I’d put my shorts back on.”
Then there was some more back and forth, about how, from my point of view, I didn’t believe I was doing anything illegal under the law of ‘willful exposure’ in the jurisdiction I was driving in – even quoting a case that had tested the law that ended up being thrown out of court.
Policeman: “Any reasonable person would find your nudity offensive.”
My thoughts: Not this reasonable person.
My reply: “Well I’ve got a lot of thoughts on everything you’ve just said and I’m not sure if you want to hear-“
Policeman: “No I’m not interested in hearing what you have to say.”
My thoughts: Gee, thanks policeman. So you think you are the law and I’m not? I thought the law was interpreted in court – by judges – not you or me.
Policeman: “I’m going to be looking into this. Expect a possible summons in the mail about the nudity.”
My thoughts: Excellent, a chance to finally test this in court!
The letter never came.
Of course it didn’t. He had no proof I was driving naked.
So I expressed my appreciation at him looking into the matter, and wondered what he would find. I and my lawyer know what exactly he would have found.
In reflecting on this, I understand how this man felt. He felt a sense of duty. A duty to do the right thing. By the law.
Well I feel a sense of duty too. A duty to do the right thing. For humanity.
And in that light, I don’t want to prod the law before society is really ready to support it. It’ll hurt the chances of non-sexual public nudity having its beautiful light of day again. It’s been a long night since the open nudity days of Sparta – or men and boys bathing nude in public everywhere until just 100 years ago.
We have to promote nudity strategically – in show of numbers, in special events, in protests, through seeding trends, by capturing zeitgeists – and doing it in major, media-grabbing ways. This is exactly what Nude Movement plans to do.
And in hindsight, I can empathize with the policeman’s non-legal take on the matter as well. Maybe he is right – most people are still ‘offended’ at seeing an unclothed person in public.
But is it really true? In this era of 2016 – when people enjoy Game of Thrones as entertainment, send snapchat dick pics and watch pornography openly as a cultural norm, with sex increasingly liberal and free – is this assumption from that policeman all that accurate?
I wonder what the stats would be if a worldwide poll was done.
Why not ask your friends and coworkers – people whose view you didn’t already know – would they be ‘offended’, shocked, appalled, morally outraged – to the degree of ringing the police to have a naked person locked up, fined, or put on the sex offender register?
Is the law out of date? Does nudity offend you?
(Image courtesy of Aleta Rodriguez used under Creative Commons licence https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/)