"Ultimately, nudity cannot be a crime for the deepest of all
reasons: nudity is our original being ---our original status."

A Lawyer Thinks Deeply About Nudism
by Dr. Dale

Unfortunately, the majority of citizens seem to have a gut level feeling that
"there is just something not "right" about the naked human body; and that,
based on general conceptions of “morality” and "decency", it is best to put
an end to nudism." But one should view this repressive attitude about nudity
in the context of history. There has always been longstanding repression of
many activities that people have misguidedly "felt" were wrong and that
"should be ended" if at all possible. (It's so much easier than thinking
rationally about an issue!) For example, some would say, "We do not think
it is moral and decent for men to make love with other men” or, another
example, "It somehow doesn't seem decent to have to drink out of the
same drinking fountain as a former black slaves", etc., etc. But all these
attitudes are now revealed as deeply immoral ---not “moral”, as they once
had seemed. All have later been seen as the manifestation of misguided
social prejudice, and not reason.

Now, let’s look at the issue of nudity rationally. It is evident that the most
grievously "wrong" behaviors are supposed to be the subject of the criminal
law. The criminal law requires two elements: the criminal act ("Actus Rea")
and the criminal intent (Mens Rea). In other words, one must have a
deliberate intent to do a bad act for a crime to have occurred. Usually, there
is much ambiguity surrounding the issue of whether there was a proper
“intent”. This is because no one can really see into the mind of another
human being. On the other hand, the issue of whether the “bad act”
occurred is almost always an obvious, objective fact. If someone witnessed
a bad act, then the issue of whether the actor had a bad intent usually
becomes the disputable issue.

On rare occasions, one finds that there can be at least some dispute about
whether a “bad act” occurred. Given the fact of a witnessed controversial
act, the question is posed as to whether it is “bad”. In criminal law, the
badness” or “wrongness” of the act usually refers to whether the act causes
harm. Ingesting marijuana is, undoubtedly, an “act”, but if no harm comes to
any other person, one can reasonably ask, is it “wrong” or “bad” to simply
ingest marijuana? (Although the act of smoking any kind of cigarette can be
considered harmful, certainly ingesting marijuana by eating a brownie
draws the key issue here). Yet, unfortunately, the laws often stretch the idea
of harm to include “public harm” to the extent that some harmless acts of an
individual are considered as harmful to society as a whole (a line of
reasoning I’ve never subscribed to, and one which, many feel, is a
convoluted way of forcing the moral beliefs of the majority on the minority so
as to create “victimless crimes”). Most advocates of nudity will probably
“throw up their hands” and lament that the logic used against marijuana use
is the very same argument that can work successfully against public nudity.
Nudity is an act that is not harmful but society will “fudge” this issue by
claiming some kind of imagined harm to society as a whole. But these
nudist activists would be wrong! The legal argument against nudity is much
weaker than even the weak arguments against marijuana. The legal
argument against nudity, I would maintain, is, perhaps, the very weakest
legal argument of which one can conceive.

In the case of nudism, the question is not even whether nudism can be
imagined as harmful in some way (as is done with marijuana use). The
deep issue is whether there is any act at all! Yes, one can witness another
person being nude, but is the state of being nude even an act?

Now, the "Actus Rea" of an alleged crime, like any other human act,
requires some overt behavior. It is never correct to criminally punish the
mere status of an individual. That one is black; that one is gay, etc. ---these
all relate to one‘s status; they are not behavioral acts. The law is only
applied to behavior ---that is the very reason for the “Actus Rea"
requirement. Only after there is behavior can the subject even come up as
to whether the particular behavior needs to be regulated or punished.

As a last resort, the law would probably argue that, although nudity is a
particular state, it is like being intoxicated. Although public intoxication is a
status, and not an act, it is based on the act of ingesting too many drinks of
alcoholic beverage. The argument would be that behind the status of
“public intoxication” there is the illegal act of drinking to excess ---and, thus,
it is appropriately a crime. It is the act of “getting drunk” which the law
condemns, even though it‘s phrased using the term “intoxication“. In the
case of public nudity, the “last resort” legal argument would be that it is the
act of “taking off one’s clothes publicly” that is what the law condemns.

Now, it is the great illusion of humankind to forget that we are animals and
that our natural status is, in fact, nudity. Ultimately, nudity cannot be a crime
for the deepest of all reasons: nudity is our original being ---our original
status. One does not become a naked human body by taking off one’s
clothes ---one “is” a naked human body that is artificially hidden by putting
on clothes. In other words, there is no “act” of taking off one’s clothes in the
ultimate sense, since that is the original “status” of our existence as
animals at all times - --yes, putting on one’s clothes is an act varying our
original state, but being nude is not an act at all!!

This can be clearly seen by considering the following hypothetical: consider
an infant who, after leaving the womb, was allowed to remain nude always
until reaching adulthood. Let us assume that he was born and raised in a
nudist camp in the warm tropics and never felt the need to put on clothes.
One day, he decides to venture into the city and walks down the street stark
naked. Of course, a police officer would promptly arrest him. Yet, given the
bulwark legal principle of Actus Rea (that one can only be punished for
behavior of some form), what is this nude man’s behavior? He could never
be charged with the criminal act of taking off his clothes because, in our
example, he has never once had clothes on. He is simply maintaining his
natural state. This hypothetical clearly demonstrates the fallacy of all laws
against nudity. Nudity is not an act, but a status, and the attempts to
criminalize the imagined act of “going nude” is an irrational perversion of
legal theory.

To briefly summarize: the foregoing arguments were an attempt to show the
correctness of upholding the "natural right to be nude". We come in the
world nude, and there can be no ultimate justification for requiring anyone
to leave this original status ----ever! Just because one might put on clothes
on a particular occasion, this could never reasonably constitute a waiver of
our right to maintain our natural status. It is "slavery" for anyone to legally
require a person to engage in any particular behavior when they haven‘t
“done anything” ---let alone, “done anything wrong“. Since nudity is the
natural state, anyone forced to put on clothes under threat of criminal
prosecution is, in effect, a victim of slavery.

And, finally, the fact that many people might become emotionally upset at
seeing the naked human body is not a fact to be catered to in designing
criminal laws. However widespread this attitude may be, ultimately it
represents a human pathology to which some form of psychotherapy may
be helpful. Indeed, what is the pathology of the human animal that makes it,
in so many instances, “afraid of its own skin”? Yet, even most therapists are
unable to see this "sickness" because so many are, themselves, "infected"
with this unnatural belief system. To get an idea of what is natural to our
species, we can only find guidance by looking at humankind’s original
state: the hunter-gatherer tribe. And if one were to ask any hunter-gatherer
(the original humans) about this, they will find it absolutely incredible that
one‘s choice to clothe or unclothe their own body could ever be a subject
for punishment.

And these wise people who manifest our original state of sanity would be
absolutely right! And we would be absolutely wrong! End of argument!
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 Dr. Dale is also an Evolutionary Psychologist. See:
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