That's the question posed by the poster for a "nude in" protest scheduled for noon Saturday September 24 in San Francisco's Castro Commons Plaza.
Except in rare instances, the police tolerate public nudity in the City by the Bay. But one city supervisor wants to improve sanitary conditions (and the city's image) by requiring nudists to cover up just a little in restaurants and place a towel under their posteriors when sitting on public benches.
Even hardcore nudists recognize the proper etiquette of such behavior, but they fear codifying the restrictions will start the city down a totalitarian slippery slope toward banning public nudity altogether. Of course. That's how dictators always start. ("First, we'll make the undesirables use towels. No, wait...first we'll make them sip tea with their pinkie extended...")
One supporter of the protest guffawed the oft-used (but moronic) talking point, "Hey, we're all BORN naked." I hope the "birthday suit" regression logic doesn't catch on. Otherwise, we'll soon have plazas filled with adults who drag their umbilical cords around while their mothers tag along and scream, "An epidural! I demand an epidural!"
The protesters like to wrap themselves in the American flag (metaphorically speaking), fancying themselves as heirs of the Founding Fathers. But some of them make a mockery of the whole "all men are created equal" mantra. (Why is it that those least likely to value modesty are often the ones with the most to be modest ABOUT?) At least they do invite a dialogue, as in "Hey, mister, my boom box got lost in one of your wrinkles." And I have actually seen history book passages about "life, liberty and the pursuit of triple-digit SPF."
Advocates of the mainstreaming of public nudity see themselves as following in the footsteps of Gandhi. But practicing passive resistance against the British Army isn't the same thing as showing disdain for Old Navy. The exhibitionists feel a kinship with civil rights icon Rosa Parks, but she remained seated on the bus because of her principles -- not because her sweaty buttocks were stuck to the upholstery.
Some nudists even view their lifestyle as a transcendent spiritual experience. And they can back it up with scripture. ("Make a joyful noise unto the Lord -- totally unmuffled by pants.")
Organizers hope this "nude in" will be the event that forces Middle America to consider casting off its inhibitions. Although, truth be told, it is good ol' inhibitions that keep us from being a nation of 312 million people wearing body casts, serving prison time for dancing on our boss's grave and enduring a loveless marriage to that cute chick we found hitchhiking near the asylum.
I can't hazard a guess as to how many people will show up for the "nude in," but I will concede that millions of people will be with the protesters in SPIRIT. Pundits have dismissed this story with "Only in San Francisco," but I think millions of Americans harbor a secret desire to strip off their clothing and be free -- for about 20 minutes. ("Ripped off my clothes. Check. Caught a few rays. Check. Felt a butterfly on my inseam. Check. Been there, done that. Now it's time to get on with my life.")
©2011 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes reader e-mail responses at firstname.lastname@example.org and visits to his Facebook fan page "Tyree's Tyrades".