There has been some conflict over the topic of nudity lately, specifically in San Francisco where they have been debating a nudity ban. San Francisco Board voted to prohibit residents and visitor over five from exposing their genitals in public. Public nudity activists filed a federal lawsuit seeking to invalidate the law, arguing the “government-ordered cover-up” violates their 1st Amendment rights. Thus, because this topic focused on freedom of expression, it was surprisingly more controversial than one might think. A federal judge ruled (to be taken effect on the first of February) that the ban does not violate the free speech rights.
Apparently the nudity debate in San Francisco began a few years ago when legislation was passed that required nudists to place cloth between them in restaurants and on public benches and seating areas. Businesses found that the activists were scaring away customers.
This got me thinking to my own experiences with public nudity. Although I think it’d be okay for people to express their nakedness by themselves, I do not think it’s fair for them to force it upon others. Other people have to look at that- and lets face it- the people who are running around publicly nude, are usually have the bodies we really don’t want to see nude.
When I was out in SMU-in-Taos, we often found ourselves looking for adventures. Our June Term group heard rumors from the May Term group that sitting in the Hot Springs was the ‘it’ thing to do in Taos. So on one of our first weekends, a group of us jumped into three cars and headed for the Springs.We definitely had no idea where the Springs were. We tried Google Maps but surprisingly enough ‘Hot Springs’ didn’t pop up. Imagine that. Then we lost Internet connection altogether as we drove around the New Mexico desert. Trying not to bottom out the car excessively, we eventually happened upon the trail that led to the Springs. At the bottom of the gorge, we joyously looked to jump into the Springs, but people were already occupying them. Naked People. Naked Hippie People.
I was reminded of a story my friend told me when she had been here before me. Apparently she had been walking to these Hot Springs and really hurt her ankle. A nice-naked-hippie-man jumped out of the Spring to go and help her out. But unfortunately she just ended up yelling at him to get away.
Hippies are pretty standard in Taos. When I went to work at the Taos Community Foundation each day, there was a guy in a tie-dye rainbow jumpsuit who rode a motor scooter up and down the street corner. Plus, whenever I went to the music concerts held on Thursdays in the Plaza, there would certainly always be a group of older hippie women who would dance openly expressive to the music.
I admit I was taken aback for a second when they came over to sit next to us in the tubs. Although given, the Springs were in a pretty secluded area, and we had chosen to come to their hippie haven. We didn’t have to be there, and I recognized that. The only other time in my life when I can recall public nudity was when I was at the YMCA a few years ago and a woman walked out of the lockers with swimsuit top. I remember watching the lifeguard running towards her telling her to put her top back on. I felt bad for the guard, but luckily I wasn’t on duty that day.
Naked Hippies in a secluded Hot Spring is one thing, but Naked Hippies running around in San Francisco is a whole different story. The judge’s decision to uphold the ban was based on the idea that it’s the government’s duty to protect the public that does not wish to be exposed to that. I’d say that’s fair. Furthermore, business (according to the Huffington Post) is suffering in the areas where naked hippies are running rampant. It’s radical San Francisco so at least they’ve still gotten approval to have a few certain events that exempt the ban.