Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A free country must permit public nudity

Do you agree? If not, then prove me wrong.

I'm not going to say that there don't exist reasons to impose a blanket restriction on public nudity. I probably wouldn't agree that they are good ones, but they may at least make logical sense. But I don't understand how telling anyone - at the least - that they can't be nude on their own private property (regardless of who may see them from a public vantage point) - even leaving out entirely the question of public roads and parks - is consistent with a belief in individual liberty.

Disclaimer: Please don't presume that by "permitting public nudity", I mean a total naked free-for-all. There are a lot of shades of grey between that and fining a person hundreds of thousands of dollars for a split-second flash of nipple, and part of the problem is that we don't talk often enough about what those different variations could be. Leaving it implied leaves one person afraid to even open the shades and let some light into their house without covering up first, while another person calls the cops on their neighbor for doing just that.

You might not like it. You might not want to look at it. (Although the same could be said about the new paint job on your house, or the jeans your teenager wears). But the existence of nudist camps and resorts the world over lends a preponderance of evidence to the common sense notion that "seeing naked people" does not produce any real harm beyond what is generated by exposure to a lifelong and unnatural taboo on nudity. On the contrary, it would seem to suggest that the abolition of this taboo, and exposure to the great breadth and depth of body types that people possess throughout their lives, may even be healthy, and combat body image disorders, while improving sexual attitudes.

But aside from whether it's actually a good idea or not, I cannot fathom how telling a person that certain articles of clothing are mandatory - even outside of shared public spaces, schools, businesses, restaurants, private establishments, and residences that are not your own - is consistent with a fundamental belief in the virtue of individual liberty.

Does one person's private belief in the immorality of viewing a naked human body trump another person's right to choose what to wear, or not wear? And does that change if it's not one person's private belief, but the belief of a public majority? Should it?

I would argue no. Am I wrong?

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