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

Americans lose their holiday inhibitions

Well, it’s a nice piece of PR from the AANR.

But forgive me, AANR, for I have been cynical, and still am.

To begin with, why is the woman in this image at the top of the AANR home page holding a large hat in front of herself, as if she’s ashamed of something? Is that the message you want to send?

Now for some comments on the PR article itself. First of all, congratulations on getting it picked up by some of the news media. You do that pretty well.

It is called a vacation “au naturel,” using a French expression as a fig leaf to cover up its more common name of naturism.

I’m trying to understand why someone thought the provenance of the term needed to be pointed out. Maybe because the article was carried by the French news service AFP? Perhaps not realizing that the term was appropriated by English long ago. (Wonder whether they’ve heard of the term “euphemism”)

The United States is a deeply conservative country

Got that right! Unfortunately.

Americans are starting to flock to beaches and country parks reserved for nudists, especially at the luxury end of the market.

Of course, the number of beaches officially “reserved” for naturists is very small, actual number depending on one’s interpretation of “official”. And “country parks”? Evidently someone means “private parks”, as there are no public parks at all (apart from the handful of beaches on public land where naturism is tolerated, tenuously). And what would “luxury end of the market” mean in relation to either a beach or “country park”?

The AANR estimates that naturist clubs and beaches for those who soak up the sun “au naturel” earn about 500 million dollars a year now, against 200 million dollars in 1992.

Nice, but to put that number in perspective it is, per capita, less than one gallon of gasoline per person. Or less than one fourth of an average movie ticket per person.

“The interest has been increasing over the last 10 years,” said Carrie Schultz, marketing director for the Caliente Resort, an upmarket nudist colony near Tampa

Nudist colony“? Aauggggh! Wash your mouth out with soap.

“Shields are coming off. We are not afraid to run TV commercials

My, how brave!

Caliente is family oriented, with a children’s playground and events for kids. In terms of luxury accommodations, we are off the scale.”

Whose scale?

Caliente highlights how naturism in the United States has become more sophisticated to reach its market.

If they think this PR-speak is sophistication, it’s no wonder naturism is advancing so slowly…

“Americans are a little spoiled

Now there’s an understatement, but without any hint of irony.

The AANR has listed 270 naturist organizations in the United States, including 18 created in the past year.

AANR habitually makes this claim, but without mentioning that over half the number are “non-landed” social clubs that own no facilities, but meet in members’ homes or at landed clubs.

On its map of “au naturel” beaches are a large number in Florida, with its year-round sunshine. Haulover, near Miami, and Apollo Beach, near the Kennedy Space Center, are among the best known.

In fact, there is exactly one other “au naturel” beach in Florida (Playalinda), which is part of the same National Park System unit as Apollo. Since when is three a “large number”?

Why am I so grumpy today? I don’t know. Maybe because of reading yet another media report that’s so out of touch with reality. Who actually draws a salary for writing this sort of stuff?

The article was evidently written by an AFP staffer, so it can’t all be blamed on AANR. But AANR is to blame for stuff like the very misleading “270 naturist organizations” claim.

Originally published June 18, 2005