AANR wins right to challenge VA law against juvenile camps

4th Circuit reinstates juvenile nudist camp’s free-speech lawsuit

RICHMOND, Va. — A federal appeals court Tuesday reinstated a lawsuit challenging a 2004 Virginia law requiring parental supervision at a nudist camp for juveniles.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the American Association for Nude Recreation can pursue its claim that the law violates its free speech rights, crimping its ability to spread its nudism philosophy.

There’s a fair amount of a story behind this, but we’ll leave the telling for another time. This intervention of the appellate court is a perfect example of our judicial system at it’s best. We desperately need an independent judiciary to protect the rights of minority points of view against the uninformed prejudices of the majority. We have a First Amendment that guarantees free speech for a reason, and we need the courts to ensure that this guarantee is respected.

Although the story doesn’t mention it, AANR was assisted in this legal effort on behalf of naturists by the ACLU. Of course, we are well aware that many “conservatives” hate the ACLU. For example, there’s this from last year:

Only days ago, the ACLU argued that the potential for abuse be damned; a Virginia nudist group has the right to open a nudist camp for young children. They argue to deny same is a violation of the group’s constitutional right to privacy.

Logical minds would be hard pressed to imagine any scenario in which the “Framers” of the Constitution intended for said right to be applied to such intent.

The ACLU argues, “So for these kids, being around other naked kids [and adults] is something perfectly normal, and the camp is very highly supervised.” To which I would reply, “That is exactly my concern lest we forget the countless number of children who were sexually assaulted by priests.”

And this, from the American Family Association:

The American Civil Liberties Union is apparently going to court to defend teenagers’ “right” to go naked. According to an Associated Press report, the ACLU is filing a federal lawsuit against the state of Virginia to contest a law that bans nudist summer camps for teenagers. The law, which goes into effect tomorrow, was passed by Virginia lawmakers in response to an annual week-long camp run by the White Tail Park nudist colony. Kent Willis of the ACLU claims the statute was an over-reaction on the part of the state legislators, and that it interferes with families’ rights to make their own lifestyle choices.

Add this support of naturist rights in Virginia to your list of reasons to join and support the ACLU.

The news story is also here, here, here, and here.

Originally published July 6, 2005

UK garden welcomes nude visitors

Come into the garden, Maud (but leave your kit behind)

Coach loads of naturists were last night getting ready to flock to a Wiltshire garden to enjoy its first ever nudist day next month. Hundreds of the enthusiasts will head for Abbey House Gardens in Malmesbury for its inaugural ‘Clothes Optional Day’.

The historic gardens, which welcome tens of thousands of visitors every summer, are home to ‘Naked Gardeners’ Ian and Barbara Pollard.

The couple often prune and plant in the altogether, but don a minimum of clothes while the gardens are open to the public.

But now, for the first time, they are opening their gardens for one day to anyone who wants to shed their inhibitions and their clothes and tour the five-acre site.

Read the full story.

Originally published July 6, 2005

Boobs, not bombs

Antiwar protesters go topless in Union Square [Link still valid!]

A dozen antiwar activists from Mendocino County took their tops off in San Francisco’s Union Square shopping district Thursday, using what they said was their best weapon to get the public’s attention

Pretty darn tame stuff… but at least they weren’t arrested.

Originally published July 3, 2005

Boobs at the DOJ

It’s been big news, so you’ve probably read about it already.

According to the BBC report:

A pair of risque Art Deco statues at the US Justice Department has been quietly put back on uncensored display, three years after a mysterious cover-up.

Majesty of Justice and Spirit of Justice depict a partially nude man and a woman with one breast fully exposed.

The two sculptures, in the building’s famous Great Hall, were covered during the tenure of former Attorney General John Ashcroft, a devout Christian.

BBC: Curtains up on risque US statues

Of course, no one could manage to get Ashcroft to come out and take responsibility for the cover-up, which cost taxpayers about $8000.

According to the Washington Post:

Justice officials long insisted that the curtains were put up to improve the room’s use as a television backdrop and that Ashcroft had nothing to do with it.

But because internal e-mails referred to “hiding the statues” — and because the room was rarely used for media events in recent years — the episode was quickly seized upon by pundits and satirists as a symbol of Ashcroft’s allegedly puritanical and censorious bearing

Washington Post: Sculpted Bodies And a Strip Act At Justice Dept.

Reportedly, the current assistant attorney general for administration recommended, after Ashcroft’s departure, that the drapery be dispensed with, and current AG Alberto Gonzales approved the recommendation. After becoming AG in February Gonzales was often asked by reporters whether he planned to make any changes regarding the drapes. But he always evaded the question, saying he had more important issues to deal with. This is understandable, as coming up with legal justifications for the U. S. policies that allow torture and prison camps must be pretty hard work.

Perhaps the most famous photos of the statues involved the Reagan-era AG Edwin Meese, whose most significant contribution to the Republic was his chairmanship of the Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography. The commission report promptly sank into well-deserved oblivion after Meese was photographed at a press conference in 1986 touting it, with the semi-nude statue of the Spirit of Justice in the background.

Additional reports…

Reuters: here, here, here, and here.

AP: here, here, and here

Blogs: Americablog, Talkleft, Daily Kos

Originally posted June 26, 2005

Everybody loves a parade

But what if people in the parade are “parading around naked”?

If Seattle’s Fremont Solstice Parade is any indication, people love the parade just as much, perhaps even more. This year’s version of the annual event took place Saturday, June 18. (Today, June 21, after all, is the actual date of the Summer Solstice, which ought to be a national holiday, if the U. S. had any sense). These these photos will give you some idea what the parade was like, in case you weren’t so fortunate as to be able to attend.

Naked and mostly colorfully painted cyclists have been a favorite part of the parade for a number of years. Others choose to parade in fanciful costumes, such as this pink penis.

When will people in other parts of the country, such as stuffy Middletown, CT, be able to have this much fun? Probably not for a long time.

Seattle seems to be more receptive than average to clothes-free fun. You’ll recall that the city had one of the largest contingents for the WNBR just last week. A significant reason for Seattle’s nude tolerance could be organizations of local activists, such as the Seattle-based Body Freedom Collaborative.

Originally published June 21, 2005

Running of the Nudes

Here’s a great excuse to visit Spain and get out of your clothes for a good cause. PETA is sponsoring its annual protest of “bullfighting” at Pamplona’s “running of the bulls”. Participants are encouraged to be naked or lightly clad, so the protest is called the Running of the Nudes.

The protest will be on July 5 in Pamplona, which is two days before the actual bull runs begin. Spain has liberal attitudes towards nudity, and a number of fine naturist beaches and resort areas on the coast, so you could make this part of a memorable naturist vacation.

Originally published June 19, 2005

New Zealand National Nude Day

This may be a bit out of the way for most readers, but it’s a neat idea. New Zealand will be having a National Nude Day on October 8 this year. That’s spring down there, remember. At least you have plenty of time to plan.

Can’t vouch for this personally, but it is claimed that on this day people can and will enjoy public nudity in many locations — in addition to places where it is already accepted and common, such as many New Zealand beaches.

If nothing else, you might want to consider buying their Nude Day T-shirt. Its connection with New Zealand is subtle and not obvious, so it should make a good conversation starter…

Originally published June 19, 2005

Canadian naturist festival

North America has three national naturist organizations: the Federation of Canadian Naturists (FCN), the Naturist Society (TNS), and the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR).

Each has its pluses and minuses. Membership in any one of the three is open to naturists regardless of country of residence. Many U. S. naturists actually prefer to belong to the FCN for various reasons, even though it’s the smallest of the three. One reason, at least in my opinion, is that it has the best publication: Going Natural.

All three organizations sponsor “gatherings” and “festivals” for their members to get together with other naturists outside their local area. The FCN added this feature only last year. Their second annual festival will be August 4-7 at a naturist club in the Montreal area. U. S. naturists, especially in the northeast, should give this one serious consideration, perhaps as an opportunity to visit Quebec and get to know its naturist resorts and locations better.

Originally published June 19, 2005