Tuesday, 24 July 2012

When Is Nakedness Offensive?

The naked rambler Stephen Gough has been arrested once again and is back in custody.

He was only released on Tuesday after spending six years in goal for 'committing a breach of the peace by conducting himself in a disorderly manner and walking naked in a public place'.  It's also claimed he was close to a children's play park at the time and refused to put on clothing or move away from the park.

There is little detail as to why he was close to a children's play park in Cairncubie Road, Dunfermline, although I suspect it was on his route south. The man has never been accused of any form of harassment or the sexual molestation to an adult or child. He has spent most of the last six years in solitary confinement in HMP Perth.

According to his ex-wife Mr Gough has an obsession with nudism. "The human body is not offensive. We are brought up to have a problem with it. It's social conditioning gone wrong," he said. (source)

Stephen Gough is obviously an eccentric but not one to be tolerated in Scottish society.  Nakedness is a taboo here.  Presbyterian views still dominate our society even though so many insist we're tolerant and liberally minded.We tolerate half naked drunks lying in the gutters at weekends; no prison for them but a visit to a warm, caring accident and emergency and a taxi home.

I wouldn't find it offensive to see him stark naked walking past me, although it has been reported some mothers object to their children seeing him and these complaints result in him being continually re-arrested.

Wise mothers would use Stephen Gough's naked walking to explain many facts of life, including the difference between an aroused and non-aroused male.

When living in Europe back in the 60s/70s, I enjoyed swimming. There was quite a large majority of people who enjoyed swimming naked and it was never a problem with the law. Sunbathing naked was also accepted as quite normal and never questioned.  The only people ever to mention the exposure of so much flesh were those from the UK, although I admit many were far more amused than offended.

Putting the man in prison isn't the answer. Let him walk home and see his children.  The cost of imprisoning him could be much better spent on those who abuse children.  They are the adults who are a threat to our youngest generation, not a 53 year old man who wants the right to wear no clothing.


Ian said...

Are you serious ? Would you be content to see people like this naked - http://www.peopleofwalmart.com/54387/off-their-rockers/.
One of the best arguments against public,not to say pubic, nudity is the fact of human ugliness apart from the cheapening of oneself,if female,by allowing all&sundry to see your intimate parts &not restricting the view to those who've earned the privilege.

DougtheDug said...

Stephen Gough is obviously an eccentric...

I think the phrase mentally ill would be more appropriate.

To get to the Scottish Border all he's got to do is stick on a pair of Speedo's and whip them off again when he crosses the border but he won't do that.

He's either mentally ill, likes being in prison or likes being manhandled by large policemen when he's naked. Or all three.

To be honest I don't know why the Scottish Authorities just don't dump him on the Bridge at Coldstream and tell him to walk south out of Scotland.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

There's far more harm done by naked greed than naked flesh.

I agree with Rosa -He'll give the bairns a laugh and he's green and substantially eco and morally friendly.

JRB said...

This poses something of a conundrum.

Six years in solitary confinement, as Mr Gough has served, is most surely not a fair or balanced application of justice.
Especially since Mr Gough has caused neither threat nor harm to anyone, save the sensitivities of a few prudish individuals.
Not when we consider his punishment against many criminals who receive far less of a custodial sentence for the most heinous of crimes.

… but

Should he have the freedom to do as he wishes?
Are any of us truly free to do as we wish?
The answer must surely be - NO
We are bound and restricted by social norms and the laws society has created for itself. None of us has licence to do entirely as we please, much as we may wish to do otherwise.

So that poses the question why should Mr Gough be granted an exception and allowed to do as he wishes, especially when it goes outside the social norms and the laws society has created for itself?
Do we lock him up again or has he not been punished enough for such an offence?
Do we declare him insane, when by all accounts he his an intelligent lucid individual with positive views?

This does pose something of a conundrum.

Woman on a Raft said...

Idea! Create a national nudist park where he and others can ramble up and down in the buff to their hearts' content.

He's not the compromising sort so I don't suppose he'd agree to put his kecks on when he leaves the National Nuddy, but maybe this could be the start of a National Nudist Walkway.

The symbol could be a little figleaf.

Sandy said...

Meanwhile a drug dealer who sold drugs to undercover police on 10 occasions gets ..... 8 month sentence.


Ask yourself who is causing greater harm to the kids.

DougtheDug said...

Looking at Stephen Gough's photo in the above article he's willing to compromise his principles on nudity by wearing a hat and a scarf.

Since covering his head with clothing appears fine but not covering his groin I suspect the whole affair is less about the principle of nudity and more about his obsession with showing his willie to the world.

Woodsy42 said...

Answer - It's offensive when it happens at an inappropriate time and place.

Brian said...

It's odd that the yuman rites lawyers who fight for the right of child rapists to live in the UK instead of being deported do not fight with one hundredth of the effort to keep this man out of prison.
Anyway, locking someone up because he offends people's prudishness is one short step from locking up disabled people to save the embarassment of the "perfect" majority - unless that majority can patronise wounded soldiers or raise money for "charidee" - instead of raising money, for a change why don't do-gooders talk to physically disabled people without assuming they have learning difficulties as well.
Note to the next person who deliberately looks away from me after clocking my limp, so help me they would be walking naked if I shared their manners.

Joe Public said...

No one has the right to be not offended.

If they don't like what they see, they can turn away!

Was anyone born pre-clothed?

Joe Public said...

@ Woodsy42 said...

" It's offensive when it happens at an inappropriate time and place."

But who determines the 'appropriate' time or place?

subrosa said...

'Those who've earned the privilege' Ian? In what way does someone earn that privilege?

subrosa said...

I don't think he's mentally ill Doug, but he's a fanatic.

I'd drive him to Coldstream if he promised to walk south.

subrosa said...

I read somewhere he gets lots of smiles when passing folk by. It's just a few who are 'offended'.

subrosa said...

It is a conundrum JRB but I feel we're wasting too much money on his 'cause'. However, like all fanatics the continual enforcement of prison just reinforces his determination.

subrosa said...

Good idea WoaR.

subrosa said...

Does the punishment fit the 'crime' Sandy? No.

subrosa said...

I'd better knit him a willie warmer then Doug. :)

subrosa said...

Therein lies JRB's conundrum Woodsy.

subrosa said...

Well said Brian.

subrosa said...

Very true Joe. In the gym I used to frequent, many women in the changing rooms pranced about naked. I suspect that happened in the mens area too, but you don't have to look.

Plenty naked women decorate the pages of red tops and mens' magazines.

Nobody insists they buy them.

subrosa said...

Auch Joe, I must be getting old. 'Seen one seen them all' springs to mind.

RMcGeddon said...

STV news showed him in all his glory on their report at 6pm last night. I wonder if anyone complained ?
I doubt it.
CH4's programme 'Balls of Steel' has a naked rambler as one of their characters and he seems to wander around towns and parks without being arrested. The CH4 presenter always says that walking about naked isn't against the law 'in Britain'.
They also have a character called 'militant black man' and one called ' the man tester' which are mildly amusing.

subrosa said...

Missed that RM, but I'd probably just have laughed.

It seems England is a lot more tolerant of nudity in public places.

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