As any of my flatmates will tell you, I love to be naked. Hence perhaps my response to the latest court appearance of Stephen Gough (aka ‘the Naked Rambler’) may be a little one-sided. Gough has already spent six years in prison, and was once rearrested less than sixty seconds after walking free naked.
Whilst there is no specific offence related to being naked in public, arrests generally fall under the charges of ‘breaching the peace’ and ‘outraging public decency’. Naked bodies shouldn’t be outrageous, and it seems absurd that a naked man simply walking down the street can be considered such an affront to peace.
For the sake of journalistic balance, I conducted an utterly unscientific survey on my peers’ opinions on public nakedness. The responses were generally in the same vein as this one: ‘public nudity makes me uncomfortable but I don’t know why.’
Perhaps we should stop to think about why nakedness makes us feel this way.We are used to seeing doctored images of near-naked ‘perfect’ bodies in advertising, and relatively few people appear offended by these. However, we are simply not used to seeing ‘real’ naked bodies.
Surely we need to give this guy a break. To put his jail time and multiple rearrests into perspective, it emerged recently that over 10,000 violent crimes were dealt with ‘informally’ by the police. If violent crimes can be dealt with without prosecution, surely a little bit of nakedness can be too.
If you are offended by the sight of naked rambler wandering down the road, perhaps just look away. Maybe even ask yourself why you are offended by the sight of a naked human being.