The recent spell of hot weather has tempted many people to cast off their daily apparel and go ‘au naturel’, naked as nature intended.
These people may be defined as ‘free spirits’, those who find delight in gamboling joyfully in their birthday suits, being at one with nature, communing with the birds and bees, and observing the butterflies flitting hither and thither around what indeed is God’s greatest creation.
And yet the dead hand of authority tells us to beware.
This miracle of creation, fashioned by the Almighty’s own hand from a lump of clay, is deemed by legalistic entreaty to be ‘indecent’, capable of arousing public antipathy and slavering outrage.
In most matters, English law is rational, well thought out and properly considered, yet when it comes to the human body, the ultimate in sacred physiological engineering, rationality goes out the window and is replaced by a leering, prurient neuroticism.
We have to ask ourselves, in all honesty, can any normal human being be genuinely ‘outraged’ at the spectacle of a fellow creature ‘au naturel’? Many years ago, in the case of ‘Ramsbottom v Coxsworth’ (Queen’s Bench Division), the judge His Honour Mr Justice Woodhead asked the defendant: “Do you deny that you were seen in your front garden completely naked?” The response was: “I certainly do, Your Honour. I had my socks on, and was wearing a sun hat.”
One would expect that in the intervening years the official stance on public nudity would have progressed. It may now be appropriate for a Law Reform Committee to consider amending the law in the light of changing public attitudes.
Rope Walk Littlehampton
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