Essentially Ashland: Ashland's naked truth

I was just sitting down to dinner the other night when the phone rang. I answered it and was soon reliving the past with a college pal from UCLA, who, somehow was now living in Orange County, Calif., that staunch bastion of conservative thought that tends to see the world in black and white. The only gray allowed is reserved for the older adherents, who deal with it and thinning hair by disparaging any of the longer variety as sported by many of the youth of America. He alerted me to an immense moral lapse where Ashland was a hotbed "haven for hippies."

It seems that Fox News, which is neither clever like a fox nor a fecund fount for any real news, ran a tidbit about nudity in Ashland. In reading a summary of such a world-shaking event, I was dipped like a donut into a steaming cup of "fair and balanced" reporting and learned, according to the report, that, "It's not that uncommon, many say, to see someone walking down the street with nothing more than a belly pack and tennis shoes."

I should have guessed where my fanny pack had gone to, yet this was my first clue that someone both vulgar and obscene could be wearing it right now, rubbing my tote over bare skin while the vile interloper did not even have the decency to wear athletic socks. As the "reporting" morphed into a blog, I read with resignation as someone concluded: "The right to express yourself does not include the right to flaunt obscenity. You nut roots, hippie, tree-huggin libtards need to find some other low-life country to display your vulgarity."

I could only imagine if Sarah Palin took this bull by the horns and made it the center of a new Republican party. Loyal members would always wear sports coats with flag lapel pins, howl about nudity, take showers in their underwear and send their sons and daughters, who hopefully have never seen anyone in the nude, off to war. Summer camp to the Helmand province, minus any impure thoughts, would be the preferred order of things, while the rest of Palin's party becomes obsessed by the possibility that a fellow co-anchor might not be wearing underwear.

I realize that most of us are raised to believe that being naked is somehow vile, unholy, obscene and, gulp, vulgar. Where did that thinking come from? If you have ever seen some young kids playing au natural, you will soon realize that it didn't come from them. They do not bat an eye while skinny dipping in a plastic pool or tearing it up in the mud. Now, that is dirty work and, if you are 3 years old, baby grins and laughter tell you all you need to know.

I have read that many organized religions rely heavily on original sin and guilt, the last served up daily by a host of God-fearing women who were ashamed, somehow, of their bodies. All they needed were burkas to get into the groove in the grove.

So if little kids think that nude is not rude, many young teenagers send suggestive photos of themselves to friends and the post high-school crowd prepares to inhale the scent of death in far-away lands, who is it that blanches, stutters and shouts at the possibility of seeing a live, nude person? It cannot be the mailman, who delivers your Social Security check. It must be you and a boatload of sexual repression. Either that or you did not play in the pond enough when a young child.

As I struggled to bridge this gap, I read a short posting on the Fox News blog: "I wonder if it's legal for men to go shirtless in the city parks in Ashland and it is not for women. They're just boobs, people. Let's not loose our minds."

Lance@journalist.com was last seen with a pair of binoculars trying to locate his fanny pack. Let him know your measure of tolerance. Where it starts and where it stops.

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