Too much exposure?

Daniel Perret-Goluboff

I like nudity as much as the next guy. Actually, I think I probably like nudity much more than the next guy. All of that aside, however, I find myself somewhat unable to sympathize with the plight of San Francisco’s nudists.

Before going on any further, it may be worth noting that I was not even aware of the situation pertaining to San Francisco’s nudists until earlier this week. As many of you may have known, San Francisco does not currently have any laws that prohibit individual citizens from being naked in public.

This in and of itself is not a problem, but it certainly has the potential to act as a catalyst for one. This is the situation that the citizens of the 13th-most-populous city in America find themselves in this week.

A new law proposed by Scott Weiner, a city supervisor from the Bay area, would alter the current laissez-faire legal attitudes regarding nudity in several ways.

The most noteworthy change of this law is that nudity would no longer be permitted in restaurants throughout the city. The new law would also require nudists to set down some sort of cloth barrier — a towel, sheet, etc. — before sitting down on public benches or in public venues.

I believe that Mr. Weiner’s intentions are good, but I feel like he may have created more problems than he has solved with his attempt at introducing this new law. Weiner’s presentation of a proposed law against public nudity only draws attention to the absence of such a law now. As could have been predicted, the past week has shown a spike in public nudity and protests by nudists in the Bay area.

Nudists throughout San Francisco have been reported as stating that they feel as though Mr. Weiner’s proposed law is unnecessary and that proper ‘nudist etiquette’ — e.g., putting down a towel when sitting on a public seat — is already practiced without the mandate of this new law.

Many seem to hold this viewpoint, but despite my love for nudity, I find it hard to accept their argument against Mr. Weiner’s proposal. Restaurant-goers contributing to the local economy should not have to worry about the potential spread of illness from their seat that may have been previously occupied by a nudist. Families should not have to worry about their young children being exposed to the mature adult body before they are ready.

Nudity is a beautiful thing, but there is a time and a place for that form of self-expression. Perhaps the solution to this problem lies not in new legislation but rather in the reaching of a general understanding between nudists and clothed people.

I agree that the average citizens of San Francisco need to respect the chosen lifestyle of their nude-counterparts, but it is important to recognize that conventional values should also be respected — especially in situations like this where public health is concerned. At this point in time I suppose I can write this off as something I simply don’t have to deal with; it’s far too cold in Wisconsin for nudism.