This week in Local Government Relations: The times, they are a’ changin’–or are they? Just as the Seattle Police Department learned to love its citizens’ newfound embrace of a certain forbidden substance, the City of San Francisco‘s Board of Supervisors made an effort to curb the endless love-in by banning public nudity via a razor-thin 5-4 vote.
Has the decision divided Bay Area residents? Of course it has. Did dozens of advocates immediately stop in their tracks and strip down in protest? Of course they did.
As we learn more, we’re a little surprised by the depth of the City of Love’s long-term “live and let live” relationship with those who have no problem letting it all hang out. According to various reports, city dwellers will no longer have the right to “[lounge] nude in the city’s plazas, [parade] up and down city streets sans pants, or [ride] subways and buses bare-bottomed”. Wait, you mean they could do that before?!?! Apparently Rice-a-Roni wasn’t the only San Francisco treat!
City Supervisor Scott Weiner (tee hee) introduced the ordinance in what seemed like an attempt to counter complaints from local business owners about a surge in “habitual nudists” flaunting their flesh in the city’s infamous Castro district–but he noted, to opponents’ surprise, that “The dominant demographic expressing concern is gay men”. Based on the close vote and the immediate public outcry, we’d say the city has a bit of a public relations problem on its hands–and we anticipate weeks of futile protests punctuated by gratuitous flashing sprees.
Public nudity remains legal in the state of California as long as it isn’t deemed “lewd or offensive”, though we’d say that wording allows for a bit of a slippery slope…and we wonder how the act of dropping one’s drawers constitutes “free speech”. The fact that “…preschoolers can still go bare, women can still go topless and public nudity will continue to be allowed at events permitted by the city” also diminishes the power of the protesters’ point, doesn’t it?
A final note to the City of New York and the MTA: thank you for not letting people ride the train nude. Improv Everywhere‘s “No Pants Subway Ride” already shows us more than enough skin.