Nudity ban upheld, found to be stupid


The City Attorney's Office just announced that a federal court has upheld San Francisco's ban on public nudity. From the press release:

The court found that the nudism advocates’ challenge to the ordinance based on the First Amendment lacked merit because “public nudity alone is not expression protected by the First Amendment,” and because the ordinance was “not substantially overbroad.”  Judge [Edward] Chen additionally rejected plaintiffs’ arguments that exemptions for such permitted events such as Bay to Breakers and the Folsom Street Fair violated constitutional Equal Protection guarantees, holding that plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that the exceptions lacked a rational basis.  Though the nudism advocates’ facial challenge to the ordinance was dismissed without leave to amend, the court left the door open for nudism advocates to amend their pleading with subsequent “as-applied” claims, provided they were able to do so.

So maybe this isn't over yet.

The news comes just as the Atlantic chimed in on the city's nudity ban, calling it pretty dumb:

In San Francisco next week, it will remain perfectly legal for a 50-year-old man to seduce an 18-year-old, impregnate her, ridicule her physical appearance until she is brought to tears, walk out on her, seek out her mother, seduce that mother for no other reason than to further hurt the jilted daughter, draw a graphic novel of the whole sordid chain of events, and publish in on the Internet. But it'll be illegal for him to be naked outside. Does anyone think the resulting moral signal is desirable?

There's a long discussion of Judeo-Christian values, the Bible, Adam and Eve, etc. But the conclusion really makes the point:

Americans are bombarded with images of semi-clothed people all the time. It just happens that they're all beautiful actors and actresses, magazine cover girls, television underwear models, and porn stars. The average person sees lots of naked bodies, but very little real variety. While that may be more aesthetically pleasant, it skewers our notion of what a normal human body looks like. In an age of Victoria's Secret in the mall, substantial nudity on primetime television, and ubiquitous YouPorn, a ban on nonsexual street nudity begins to seem absurd. Society needs some relatively unattractive people to be naked in public now more than ever before.

So there you have it. Legal, stupid.


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