Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Right to Bare Arms

If there is one thing I enjoy writing about, it is naked people. Pretty much any situation becomes a million times more funny if you just remove the clothes from the participants. The Olympics? Hysterical.Court-room drama? Bust a gut. Just picture the departure of Premier Ed Stelmach; Political analysts would have a field-day if he left for a nudist colony.

Speaking of nudist colonies, a recent court trial has caused some examination of the national views on nudity. The case is the trial of Brian Coldin who operates a nudist colony in Ontario, and has been charged with five counts of public nudity. Apparently, Mr. Coldin likes to wander over to restaurants in a nearby town and order things from the drive-thru in the altogether. The restaurant worker was so upset, she was reduced to tears on the witness stand.

So the hounds have picked up the scent, and the hunt is on for better legislation on public nudity. The debate is whether anyone is "harmed" or not by seeing a nude body. The problem I see is that this is the wrong case to be hitching a wagon to. The restaurant worker is obviously upset and was completely uncomfortable with the situation Coldin allegedly put her in; this incident is not about nudity or not, it is about what is acceptable behavior to inflict on other people. In my opinion, this is coming dangerous close to a sexual harassment case, especially considering the repeat offenses. Psychologically speaking repeatedly displaying oneself to others when it is obvious they are uncomfortable with it looks more like exhibitionism. These are not the kind of people that the nudist community should have representing them if they genuinely want to make advancements in the rights of nudists.

It is true, as we have seen from the abortion debate and civil rights debates, that most often what spurs change is someone raising hell, being difficult, and otherwise forcing the dominant powers to examine the issue more closely. This, however, is so close to a dearly held societal taboo, that some more grace and caution may be required, rather than brute deliberation; even a social movement towards acceptance of 'healthy' nudity that does not glorify nudity, but approaches it from a non-threatening, open-minded and factual perspective. Or you could, you know, keep "swaying it" in their faces.

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