Tuesday, November 20, 2012


PUBLIC NUDITY, SMOKING BAN - PUBLIC MORES VERSUS PRIVATE RIGHTS

Let's begin with my bias - all of my regular readers know I support a nude beach at the tip of Boca Chica near the mouth of the river.  If properly done, groups will organize regular retreats to Boca Chica which will help fill our hotels, book flights into Brownsville, and bring periodic boosts in tourism - no matter how you look at it, it is a win for Brownsville.

My regular readers know I favor a smoking ban in the bars, except patios.  In substance what is the difference?  I admit I am challenged in arguing why it is wrong  for the government to ban public nudity in select places, and not wrong to ban public smoking in bars.

Arguments can be made - but in truth - there is not much of a substantive difference.  Yes, public smoking can hurt another person's health whereas seeing another human being naked is not going to cause cancer.

I wish it were so simple.  Many European families take their children to nude beaches.  Europeans grow up very comfortable with the human body and nudity.  I believe such an environment desensitize children and adults to nudity and creates a more sexually mature adult.  BUT, parents must have an absolute right to control what their children see.

The issue in San Francisco is not the public nudity per se, but how it has gotten out of control.  Merchants in the Castro district where the nudity has become common place have complained that they are losing customers.  The primary complaint is, they do not want their children to see the nudity.

I am not going to argue with any parent and how they want to raise their children on such an issue.  It is their right to say no, and no one should be allowed to tell them otherwise.   But I will say, these parents might check out a nude beach in Europe where families go as a family.  They might learn something about desexualizing the body.

In the case of San Francisco I support the ban on public nudity in the same way I support the ban on public smoking.  Freedom is a conceptual notion and not written in stone.  It changes with society's norms.  Sometimes we need to respect the changes, and others we need to  fight them.  In public, parents should be allowed to take their children anywhere where children can be expected to be, without having to explain why John Doe as 20 piercings in his penis.  I am not judging the piercings, I am simply defending the rights of the parents.

Tomorrow San Francisco will change its law to limit public nudity to select events.  I think this is the correct way to handle this.  It is a fair balance.

A nude beach at the tip of Boca Chica is the right way to do it.  If parents want to go beyond the warning sign, then that is their decision to expose their children to public nudity.

If you oppose the smoking ban, you certainly cannot oppose public nudity on select beaches.  Public nudity does not cause cancer on 3rd parties, smoking does.

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