Indecent exposure

Am I the only one who thinks this hoopla about the right to be nude in public is a non-issue? Are people who feel they must expose themselves in public so selfish that they cannot consider the impact on a child of looking at a nude stranger walking around in public? Or the impact on most women? Or seniors? Is this a higher level of narcissism or exhibitionism that it is so important to them? I don't get it. It seems like common sense to me to wear clothes in public.

I'm all for sex education in schools. I am all for free expression — written, spoken, in artwork, the Internet, cinema, books, music, other media and, of course, politics. However, in our day-to-day community, and particularly in areas with children present, not just schools, I just don't understand why there isn't a common sense of what is appropriate with regard to nudity — you know, a time and place for things? I don't think that nudity is appropriate in public spaces.

I would not be opposed to a nudist club somewhere, so that people who choose to walk around nude could join and could do so in their own private space. In fact, I had a friend in West Virginia who did that. But if I didn't join the group, the others who didn't want to join shouldn't be forced to look at people who are naked in their public, community space.

For example, picture the annual Halloween parade in Ashland. What if there had been nude adults present, in the midst of this fun, intergenerational parade? It would have been transformed into a whole different event, for the amusement of a very specific portion of the population, instead of for everyone. I am sure that most parents with children would have simply left. Or, imagine Lithia Park with no children running around, only adults seeking to express themselves protecting their right to walk around nude and those who would like to gape at them? It would become a completely different kind of park, wouldn't it? Is that fair to the families — or to anyone else who doesn't choose to view nude people as they walk in the park?

Let's talk about rights. What gives an adult, a complete stranger to a child, the right to scare or upset him or her and disrupt a child's environment by exposing their naked body? Isn't this an infringement on a child's right to know that he or she can expect people to appear appropriately — i.e., clothed — in public? Isn't this a violation of my right to not see someone naked if I don't choose to?

And what is to say that, if we have this "right to be nude in public" law, that it won't be a cover for pedophiles to have more access to the most vulnerable members of our community, our children? Where could the line be drawn by police when an adult is being inappropriate with a child in public?

I wish our City Council would get on to the business of managing our city. If you agree with me, call the mayor and our City Council members. Let's get on with the important issues our city is facing and stop wasting all their time on what seems like a simple decision — no nudity in public places. Let's call it what it is: indecent exposure.

Laurie Baden is a freelance writer and copy editor and is a new Ashland resident, along with her husband and high school-aged son. She will be teaching "Green Literature" for the OLLI program.

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