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San Francisco's Board of Supervisors has seen fit, by a narrow vote of 6-5, to ban nudity on public streets and on public transportation -- a move which reverses a decades-old relaxed sentimentation about the natural state of man in that city. San Franciscans have long been accustomed to seeing the sights of nekkid people of all ages, shapes, and sizes strolling down the sidewalks and riding on the buses. Okay, it's not that prevalent, most go clothed in the city, but hardly a day goes by when an avid city-traveler will not espy some nakedness. But the perceived problem, the supposed crisis calling for a cure, was the increasing instance of what some have called 'aggressive nudity' -- naked men intensely making out in the street, and men being naked on sidewalks abutting elementary schools.

And I grant, some do use nudity almost as a weapon against conformity, to shake people out of their comfort zones. But the question then arises, if the problem was nudity in certain specific circumstances, why not simply ban nudity in those specific circumstances? (As a longtime naturist who walks unashamedly clothed in air on my own property, and on nude beaches and other places where such a natural presentation is deemed the norm, I am still conscientious about wearing some clothing about the city in general -- my goal is not to shock people; at least, not in that way.) But interestingly, the fuzzy edges of the law (which does not take effect until February next year) will still leave much room for provocative behavior, even as they criminalize much behavior which offers no provocation whatsoever. The little old man who routinely goes to and from the grocery store au natural, in the neighborhood disinterestedly accustomed to his so doing, will face a hundred dollar fine for his first 'offense.' Then two hundred for a second, and for a third, five hundred dollars and possibly a year in jail. But the provocateurs, those social statement-makers, may just skirt the law by engaging in the same seemingly sexually aggressive activities while simply nestling their apples and bananas in the slightest g-string. Putting a sock on it may well suffice for the brazen challenger to avoid prosecution, while the harmless, even modest, man or women who simply eschews the unnaturalness of clothes altogether appears in the garmentlessness of birth at their peril.

There are, to be fair, further exceptions. Quixotically, the provision applies only to those over the age of five, so toddlers may still toddle to school as their ancestors would have a few thousand years ago (but probably not on school grounds). The beaches remain congenial to full-on adult nudity, and those who really wish to be naked on the city streets may obtain a permit to parade that way. Any private business may permit its customers to maintain their traditional ways-- as many doubtless will; and naturally any private home may do so as well. (And women, naturally, may still go topless; our civilization has not, after all, become so barbaric as to ban that!!)



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