By Whose Rules?

IMG_2690.JPGAs someone deeply concerned about the environmental degradation that could render the planet uninhabitable for human life by the turn of the next century and all the potential horrors that might occur between now and then, I am struck by the messaging that is peppered toward we, the common folks.

Give up our straws. Drive less. Use less water. Eat less meat. Turn off your lights.

WRONG!

Personal responsibility will forever be a myth if it is not a follow-on to corporate and governmental responsibility. If it comes first, no amount of individual actions we who choose to live more environmentally conscious do is competition for carbon dioxide spewed into the air by a single factory or corporation. And the time for change is now.

We need more governmental regulation of emissions. We need to rein in the big polluters and make them pay for the degradation they’ve caused. We need to engage legally with the oil companies, such as Exxon, who obfuscated for years, disgustingly funding fake “think tanks” and false science, all the while knowing the truth about their direct impact on climate change. These companies need to be made to pay for their intentional malfeasance, all so they could earn a dirty buck.

Their responsibility needs to come first, because I cannot give up enough straws to fix the problem.

And on and on. We didn’t kill the electric car at the turn of the century. Automakers dictate our transportation. No amount of staying home is going to make up for their refusal to ramp up true change in their industry. Industrial agriculture harms the air, water, and land. There is a lot of information out there to make better choices. But not everyone can afford those changes and those who profit from the harmful practices don’t seem ready for wholesale changes.

That’s where government needs to come in and force the change, because we don’t have much more time to waste on allowing big business to destroy our ability to thrive on this planet. Enough is enough.

I’ve been reading about how Ford and GM (among other companies) aided the rise of Nazi Germany and their war effort. About how they then had the audacity to sue for reparations when their German plants were destroyed in World War II. And how they got rid of documents that detailed their traitorous efforts. This is the lineage the planet-harming industries are holding. They profit off of doing the wrong thing, putting forth efforts many agree are harmful, and then, as usual, figure out how to get away with it.

This got me to thinking, as well, about how nudists and naturists are often vilified as being untoward because we flout the conventions of the prevailing culture. This is one of the wedge issues, a part of the “culture wars” designed to distract us from the true wrongdoers out there. Nudism and naturism, the art of non-sexual nude recreation, has a 90-year track record in the United States as being a safe place for families and has self-policed to great success. Yet, authorities will disproportionately single out the human body for distraction. For instance, Free the Nipple is commonsensical, but is turned into an amplified battle. Meanwhile, Exxon’s crimes against nature and their documented knowledge of it, have barely raised an eyebrow, let alone any ire that would affect real change.

So, while we’re all engaging in debate over whether a Utah stepmom should be facing jailtime for going topless in her own home, the big polluters, those who could affect change, are continuing to profit, unabated, off of our misery and potential destruction.

If you ask me, that’s what’s truly disgusting.

As naturists, it is practically within our definition to be stewards of the planet. We can and do lead by example. But our small actions don’t hold a candle to the corporations that can offset our collective advances in the flip of a switch. We need change if we’re going to continue to enjoy this beautiful planet the way nature intended. We can no longer let them set the agenda to have us fighting among ourselves about cultural issues. We must unite for accountability from those who owe us that.

How?

I have no idea.

But we have to flip the script on who sets the rules. We can’t afford any other path.

The First Freedom

My favorite part of the U.S. Constitution if the First Amendment freedom of speech. I believe it is our most important right in this country, because governments had long sought to quell disagreeable speech before the founders put it into the Bill of Rights.

Freedom of speech is one of the most inconvenient freedoms we have, because our minds have the impulse to shut out that which we find offensive to our sensibilities. Currently, my “side,” the progressives, are being known as the ones who want to chip away at freedom of speech and I have had several rows with people over it. I understand the desire to quiet words that are hurtful and harmful, but I have long held the deeply progressive opinion that more speech and better speech is the antidote to bad speech.

Here in Vermont, a couple years ago, Charles Murray, known for his scientifically flawed and racist tome The Bell Curve was brought to Middlebury College by a group of college Republicans to speak about what people might be missing about the appeal of President Trump among some of his voters. Note: While Middlebury is a private school, most educational institutions, in the interest in open dialogue and free inquiry follow the first amendment on campus. The intent was a thoughtful discussion that would bring people perhaps to uncomfortable places when discussing the current political environment. Instead of giving his talk and engaging in Q&A, progressive groups at Middlebury shouted him down, would not cede the room for its intended purpose, forced him and a professor into an undisclosed room to carry on the interview for remote viewing, and grew violent as he left the premises.

The progressives violated the precepts of free speech in that one’s freedom to speak does not mean one can prevent another from speaking. It was embarrassing, except a lot of progressives I know were not embarrassed at all. They thought what happened was wonderful. I was aghast.

My best retort was what if a group brought a gay speaker to religiously conservative Bob Jones University in the South and she received the same treatment? What if she had to hide to give her interview and then was endangered physically as she left? Would they feel the same way they did about Murray? Of course they wouldn’t, because it’s speech they agree with. While Murray represents what is bad to them, this hypothetical speaker (perhaps considered bad at a conservative institution) is good and worthy of speech. But the point of the first amendment is to protect speech with which we disagree, which would make my hypothetical as wrong as what happened at Middlebury.

I lost the battle with those people and some folks felt I was no longer worthy of conversation. (Lest we think this is entirely the province of the Left, let’s recall the record burnings handed to the Dixie Chicks when they dared say they were ashamed that President Bush was from Texas.)

As nudists, free speech should matter to us, as well. Though courts have held that speech does not extend to nakedness, there have been plenty of court cases that have upheld symbolic speech – from the right to wear armbands in school to protect war to money being considered a form of speech in political contests to the right to burn the American flag. Symbolic speech, including forms many of us would find offensive, have been protected by the courts.

Are not our bodies symbolically making statements about social and political norms when we choose to go nude? Or perhaps if we are peaceably assembled, also a first amendment protection, should we not be protected? If we are forced to wear clothes, are we not unduly burdened under the fourteenth amendment that calls for equal protection under the law? Currently, a lot of the Free the Nipple campaigns are comparing men’s cover-ups versus women’s as unequal and arguing from that standpoint and they have a strong argument. I’m doubting we would have the same argument.

I’d stick with the freedom of speech, personally.

Our Constitution, while a flawed document written by flawed men with the intention at the time to limit the rights to one race and one sex, echoes with brilliance nonetheless. Enough to last as long as it has, though these days it’s on shaky ground. To many, our bodies are likely offensive to their prejudices and conditioning, but it doesn’t make them wrong. Maybe someday, while we still have a functioning Constitution, we’ll find a that a compelling case can be made that allows we the nudists to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”

Or at least our posteriors.

 

Who Am I to Judge?

IMG_6355.JPGYou thrash about trying to kick off the socks about 3 hours after you went to bed. You’d been sleeping soundly, but you got tangled up in your jammies and it startled you awake. The waistband separates the top from the bottom and you’ve cut off the even distribution of air and heat.

So, you wear clothes to bed. Who am I to judge?

At the sound of your alarm, you leap out of bed and head into the bathroom. You warm up the shower and grab your bathrobe and get the coffee percolating. Back in the bathroom, you remove the bathrobe and jammies and jump into the hot water. You finish, dry yourself, and wrap in a towel as you had back to the bedroom to get dressed.

So, you keep covered moving about your home. Who am I to judge?

It’s mid-summer and you’re ready to refresh in the river. You throw on your swimsuit, shirt, and cover-up. Grabbing a towel, you remember your hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen, because that sun can be mean. You get down to the river, throw down your stuff and jump in. In your swimsuit and your shirt.

So, you’re fully dressed for swimming. Who am I to judge?

The soil is tilled and it’s time to plant the seeds. You’re in a slightly shaded area, which is good, because it’s scorching hot outside. You’re button down is clinging to your undershirt is clinging to your skin. Everything is sticky. Your undies have soaked through and have become one with your jeans, while your socks feel like they might never peel off your feet. Your sweat has nowhere to escape, failing at its purpose of keeping you cool.

So, you’re draped in layers of cloth to garden. Who am I to judge?

I sleep nude. I walk around my house naked. I prefer skinny-dipping and gardening in minimal to no clothing. I practice non-sexual nudity and nude recreation. I am a contributor to my community, family, and work. Like you, even though I had cradle cap and a booty, I wasn’t wearing anything when I was born.

So, I’m a nudist. Who are you to judge?

I am not offended when you show up at my door all dressed up, that my “Clothing Optional Beyond This Point” sign in my entry way never seems to cause you to choose the option, that you prefer to have mixed fibers clinging to your body when splashing about, that you don’t have the same practices as I have.

We’re all human. Who are we to judge?

#NormalisingNaturism

Peace.

Back to Twitter

After deep consideration and missing the vibrant naturist community – my people – on Twitter, I’ve taken a different approach. I’m not going to mention what I’m not about, those keywords that seemed to attract the bots, and instead I’m just going to celebrate naturism and quietly delete those who don’t.

You can find me at https://twitter.com/fullvermonty doing my best to help our community in #NormalisingNaturism.

See you there!