Clothes (lack of)

A British man, Stephen Gough, 50, known to the press as the ‘naked rambler’, has been gaoled more than once for refusing to wear clothes. The campaign of the ”Naked Rambler’ for ‘Freedom to be Yourself ‘ is now supported by a website and a Naked Walk Fund. In Scotland he was been sentenced in Scotland to 21 months prison, after refusing an offer of freedom if he got dressed and being warned that he could spend many more years in prison. On the past two occasions when he has been freed from prison, police officers were waiting at the gates to rearrest him.

Denying his nakedness to be a breach of the peace or an affront to the court, Mr Gough accepted that he might remain in jail forever – apart from the few seconds of freedom he enjoys after each gaol term. Apart from wondering about the misplaced zealotry of the British authorities and Mr Gough’s sanity or otherwise, this leads me to ask just why is public nakedness offensive and an offence?

Nakedness can be dangerous; clothes are protective. Is this a move to protect the hospitals from multiple cases of frostbite or sunburn? Is it a capitalist plot to protect the clothing and fashion industries? Most people don’t look better for being naked. Nudity is rarely an aesthetic pleasure, but is it criminal? Sometimes clothes look good, but it is no crime to look foolish. If bad taste or foolishness were criminal, we would all be condemned. In any case, clothes are clothes; fashion is a mistake.

Does the law worry about nakedness being an invitation to public immorality? Are we worried about dirty old men? In most democracies, the days are long gone when adultery was a crime. Rape is appalling, but it’s more about violence than sex and doesn’t result from public nudity-just the opposite. Surely the ‘public’ is no longer shocked or embarrassed by nudity. Or does the criminal justice system still take note of the shame felt by Adam and Eve at their nakedness and punish those who are not similarly shamed?”