1999-APR-06: Court of Appeals, 1st Circuit - ruling on child
pornography: From time to time, adults are charged with possessing
child pornography when they are found to have photographs showing
simple child nudity. Most often, this involves parents who have taken
innocent pictures of their children in the bathtub. Naturists are
particularly prone to police interference simply because they practice
family nudity. It is important
that the boundary between innocent photographs and child pornography
be defined. The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, which has
jurisdiction over ME, MA, NH, Puerto Rico and RI, contributed to this definition.
police had seized from the defendant some photographs of minors who
were clearly involved in "sexually explicit conduct."
They also seized a single photograph that the defendant had downloaded
from the Internet. It showed an under-age naked female "standing
or kneeling in a hole on a beach." The prosecution had deemed
the latter photograph pornographic, because it involved "lascivious
exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of any person" Under
the New Hampshire law, this would define the photo as showing "sexually
explicit conduct." They viewed it as evidence of the
defendant "trafficking in material involving the sexual
exploitation of a minor." Based on this photograph, they
asked for a longer sentence; a lower court agreed. The Court of
Appeals ruled that the photograph was not pornographic, and that
the defendant's sentence should not be extended. The court found that
the photograph did not show "sexually explicit conduct"
They agreed that the child's pubic area was exposed in the picture.
However, they found that:
"...in determining whether there is an intent to elicit
a sexual response, the focus should be on the objective criteria
of the photograph's design."
"the statute requires more than mere nudity."
"the genitals are not featured in the center of the
the setting and the girl's pose were not sexually suggestive.
1999-NOV-17: USA: Supreme Court ruling on public nudity: According to
"WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard arguments
over whether a local government's ban on public nudity is constitutional when
its target actually appears to be nude
dancing. The justices will determine whether the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was
correct in refusing to apply any of the opinions of the majority in a 1991 high
court ruling upholding an Indiana law that was a general prohibition of public
Erie PA had passed a public indecency ordinance that has the
effect of prohibiting all public nudity. The ordinance was successfully
challenged in the state supreme court. The city has appealed the decision to the
U.S. Supreme Court. Three conservative Christian groups (Morality in Media,
Family Research Council, National Law Center for Children and Families) and
14 state governments filed amica-curia briefs in support of the law. The American
Civil Liberties Union, Deja Vu Club of Nashville, TN, Feminists for Free
Expression, First Amendment Lawyers Association and several theater
organizations filed briefs in opposition to the law. 1
On 2000-MAR-29, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in the
case #98-1161; City of Erie et al. v. Pap's A.M., tdba "Kandyland").
2 Erie PA had passed an ordinance which outlawed
anyone appearing in public in a "state of nudity." The
intent of the law was to prohibit nude dancing in commercial
establishments, like Kandyland. The owner of Kandlyland sued. The city
lost in the Court of Common Pleas, won at the Commonwealth
Court, lost again at the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and won
in the U.S. Supreme Court. In their ruling, the highest court
"...the Pennsylvania Supreme Court construed the
preamble to mean that...the ordinance is aimed at combating crime and
other negative secondary effects caused by the presence of adult
entertainment establishments like Kandyland and not at suppressing the
erotic message conveyed by this type of nude dancing."
case represented more than simple freedom of expression. The ordinance
is judged constitutional because its intent, as stated in the preamble,
was combat "certain lewd, immoral activities carried on in
public places for profit [which are] are highly detrimental to the
public health, safety and welfare..." It is unlikely that this ordinance can be
applied to naturist resorts or free beaches.
2000-JAN-19: Free beach in Brazil: According to Reuters, in mid-JAN, twenty
Rio de Janeiro police officers acted on a recent city directive to crack
down on public decency violations. They entered a free beech and
required dozens of women to put on their bikini tops. One woman refused
to do this and was roughed up and arrested. The action was captured on a
video camera; the tape received repeated broadcast on the TV news. The
public reacted negatively to the police action: Many more women are now going
topless on the beach. Some men have been wearing bikini tops with
posters saying "Down with the hypocrisy."
2000-FEB-02: Total ban on naturism in Kansas: Legislation has been proposed in Kansas which would
criminalize the practice of naturism. Although the bill is specifically
aimed at naturist resorts, it would appear to have general application,
even within a family at home. The bill defines "nudism" as,
"the act of a person or persons congregating or gathering in the
presence of one or more persons with such person's or persons' genitals
exposed as a form of social practice". If the law were strictly
applied, then sexual activity would be illegal, unless the people
involved were married to each other. Changing an infant's diapers could
become a criminal act.
2000-MAR-16: Partial ban on naturism in Iowa: A posting to a mailing list mentioned that
since 1997, Iowa has had a law on the books which prohibits nudity in
any location which has a sales tax license. It was apparently promoted
in order to outlaw strip bars. However, it was so broadly worded that it
would criminalize a great deal of activity. For example, a book store
could not rent a back room to a Wiccan or
other Neopagan group if they practiced their
rituals skyclad (nude). A church who sold pamphlets also could not allow
Neopagan skyclad groups to use their facilities.
2000-MAR-16: Ban on naturist speech in Arkansas: The same posting mentioned a law in
Arkansas which, in violation of the U.S. Constitution, criminalizes
speech about nudity. A person reading this essay out loud in Arkansas
could presumably be prosecuted in that state. Again, Neopagans who practice skyclad
could not even talk about their religion within the state. A webmaster
anywhere in the world who deals with a web hosting service in Arkansas
could find themselves in difficulty if their web site contains any
material on naturism or nudity.
2000-JUL-16: Ban on naturism in Brevard County, FL: The Naturist Education Foundation (NEF), Florida Association
for Nude Recreation (FANR) and some individuals who are mainly members
of Central Florida Naturists, are challenging the constitutionality
"... the infamous Brevard County [FL} ordinance. This template
ordinance is the cornerstone of the radical rights' attack on nudity and
general and communicative non-sexual nudity...in particular. This template
ordinance has been replicated by the hundreds in Florida's counties and
cities, and continues to spread across the nation as well." 3
The lawsuit asks that the anti-nudity ordinance be declared
unconstitutional. It also seeks damages from the county for violation of
individuals' civil rights. The
ordinance allows nudity if it is "part of a bona fide live
communication, demonstration or performance." The county does not
prosecute strip bars or any other adult profit-making entertainment
establishment which exhibits erotic nudity. Police only seem to prosecute
individual nudists relaxing on the beach. The county has diverted a significant portion
of their law enforcement resources away from conventional criminal
activity in order to concentrate on trying to eradicate nudism. Sheriff's deputies drive to federal
land, miles away from any community, to perform swimsuit patrols.
The plaintiffs seek the freedom
"Naturist ideals in plays, festivals, political
demonstrations, educational demonstrations, educational seminars and live
artistic displays which utilize the content of the simply and non-sexually
nude human body."
The suit (no pun intended) asserts that the
existing ordinance is unconstitutional for many reasons. Some are:
It is excessively broad and vague. It requires both the public and law
enforcement officials to decide whether a given situation is "bona fide"
Defendants charged under the ordinance are assumed guilty and have
to prove that their particular form of nudity is permissible under the
ordinance; this is
The ordinance is unequally applied: commercial, erotic adult
entertainment is permitted, but simple naturism is not.
No warrants were issued for some arrests.
The ordinance claims that decent human beings who view nudity are
sent into an uncontrollable spiral of crime, insanity and depravity.
This is laughably untrue.
The ordinance bans the rituals of certain religious groups. For example,
some Wiccans and other Neopagans
practice their rituals skyclad (nude). Some Jainist monks also practice
2000-JUL-27: Nude statue in California: Adults organizing a tour of the Sacramento
Community Center for a Christian home-schooling group were
distressed after viewing a nearby statue of Poseidon. They were not disturbed at
the fact that a statue of a Greek Pagan god was on display; they took
offense to his nakedness. The sculpture had been presented by the Greek
government in 1972 to the citizens of Sacramento. "...someone in
the home schooling group draped Poseidon with 'a toga or dress pants' in
order [to] 'keep the statue from offending their children'."
Two other adults attempted to remove the fabric. The Convention and
Visitors Bureau were concerned that refusing the Christian group
permission to hide Poseidon's genitals "might cost the city a
valuable convention." After a meeting of the Convention and
Visitors Bureau, the Convention Center and the
Metropolitan Arts Council, the group determined that "the
city has a clear policy in place. That policy states that no public art
will ever be covered..." Future outings of the Christian
home schooling group will probably have to re-route their visit to avoid
the statue. 4
2000-SEP: Poll about nudism: The
Naturist Education Foundation (NEF) contracted with the Roper-Starch
organization to conduct a national poll of the public's attitudes toward
nude sunbathing. Some results were:
Among Americans of all ages:
19% have participated in nude
recreation with mixed company.
80% believe that people should be able
to enjoy nude recreation as long as it is in a designated area. This
is an increase from 72% in 1983.
18% personally would consider visiting
a clothes-optional resort or nude beach.
Opinion about setting aside public
land for nude recreation was evenly split.
Among younger American adults aged 18 to
97% believe that people should be able
to enjoy nude recreation as long as it is in a designated area.
34% would consider visiting a
clothes-optional resort or nude beach.
Among older American adults aged 45 to 54:
11% would consider visiting a
clothes-optional resort or nude beach.