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Nudity, AANR, the Law, and Consequences

By AANR Executive Director Erich Schuttauf…

In a report to clubs and trustees last week we let you know that AANR had assisted a prominent attorney with legal information. 

Two weeks ago we discussed a couple’s lawsuit against Wal-Mart and the city of Peoria, Arizona, after their three daughters, aged between one and six, were removed from the family home over nude photos of the girls taken at bath time.  The children remained in state custody for over a month while authorities investigated the photos after a Wal-Mart photo clerk alerted authorities.  (A judge later ruled the pictures did not violate criminal laws.)

This week the latest news came from Virginia where accounts first reported that a “man faces jail for making coffee in his own home naked.”  Those accounts proffered that the defendant woke up at 5:30 a.m., stumbled to the kitchen in his home, and proceeded to make coffee in the nude.  Hours later, police showed up at his door to cite him for indecent exposure after a mom and her seven-year-old son observed him in the window while taking a “short cut” that crossed his front yard on their way to school.

For those of us for whom nudity is a way of life, at times these reports can seem overwhelming.  If we face jail or steep legal fees for taking innocent snaps of our kids, or enjoying nudity within our own homes and backyards, we’re left wondering “What will be next???”

It prompts me to offer a few observations and make one promise to you.

First, there is little question that sensationalized news accounts have a marked impact on what nudists and non-nudists alike believe is unlawful.  In turn, that can have a demonstrable impact on their willingness to give nude recreation a try or other behavior.  For example, “Mr. Coffee” touched off several messages to our office opining that members feel forced to cover up.  It’s not surprising given that visitors who responded to a survey on our blog this week voted the “privacy of home” among the top places they enjoy nude recreation. 

Remember the Arizona photo case? I’ll leave it to you to speculate on whether it had anything to do with a printing company’s recent refusal to publish the newsletter of an AANR club located in the Pacific Southwest.  It contained a cover picture depicting members of all ages in a line onstage during a club talent show. The club was a long-standing customer.  

Next, I’ll acknowledge that with most such cases, AANR faces a significant obstacle that must be overcome to respond to the news story properly: like all “merely mortal” readers, viewers, and listeners, we often do not have first-hand knowledge of the facts.  Did the parents of the young girls take photos that came too close to the line?  Did Mr. Coffee simply stumble around the kitchen preparing brew, or did he stand spread eagle in open doorways and a large plate glass picture window at 8:40 in the morning-and were mother and son taking only a small shortcut between two very public sidewalks from which one could have just as easily seen a purposeful display as has also been alleged?

Responding too quickly, without knowing all the facts for certain, brings peril if initial reports and assumptions turn out untrue.  Yet the early innings of a story are usually the stage where our blood is boiling at its hottest.  DAMN IT. If AANR knows about this it should be DOING something. 

The media likes to hear us say “damn it.”  “Damn it” makes us buy newspapers.  “Damn it” keeps us listening over the commercial break.

I want all our members and clubs to be assured that AANR hears the frustration in your phone calls and e-mail messages.  I cannot promise you that we will be goaded into premature action because doing so can all-too-easily detract from a reputation of providing a credible voice of reason for nude recreation.

But I do promise you that AANR will continue to track events, to take the extra time that it takes to research the facts, or find out what the jury determined so that we can continue providing reliable guidance.  And that we WILL speak out in cases of clear injustice to nudists.

In closing, let me return to Peoria, Arizona, one more time.  This week, our office secured a copy of the written police reports prepared at the outset of the police investigation just hours after the call from Wal-Mart, plus subsequent interviews with the parents and a thorough search of their home. 

The reports reveal what the judge ruled: These parents are probably not pornographers. They are (make that were) just very matter-of-fact about the nudity of their young kids and a cousin or two, and took a limited number of snapshots and home video of same. But the reports also reveal aspects of the photos that legitimately would have triggered alarm bells for the Wal-Mart clerk and the police.  They are the same aspects discussed in the “Legal Issues in Nude Photography” fact sheet available to clubs and members in the Member Benefits section of aanr.com.   It is fair to conclude that had the parents known and observed the same guidelines we provide, their case may have not gone as far as it did.

There are lots of laws and rules of thumb to keep track of and they constantly change.  Your dues and support make it possible.

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2 Responses to Nudity, AANR, the Law, and Consequences

  1. To:AANR Executive Director Erich Schuttauf
    on the Pro side of my view.
    You are right, you can’t just jump into something,
    as a reporter,I just cant print, it takes time, and more about nudism. You are representing us, and I wouldn’t like it if you jumped into somthing, and then looked liked you were backing or helping people you shouldn’t.
    Yes, I agree with you we should take time to read information. and It gives me joy to know you follow, and update on issues around us.

    On the con side of my view,
    I have found with the polls I have take by nudist,
    that we feel that AANR could do more, in the follow: Thire are groups and nudist nude site that cover more news about nudist then AANR
    It would help us more if you give out more education about nudism to the public, (the number one issue.)

    I, myself would like to see you present at any issue of nudism, and the law, to keep us informed and the need to tell the public rather right or wrong of the person(s) in question, Let that come from you also. You don’t have to jump in just stay on top as you have always have.

    Thank you so much for your great work I am happy and proud to be a member.
    THE NUDIST REPORTER.
    live long live good Live NUDE!

  2. Sava Mathou says:

    We are living in a society that thrives on being “Politically Correct.” However, its gotten to the point of people being too correct.
    If you really think about this issue. Probably over half of America would be arrested for taking pictures of their kids in the tub when their little. Parents see their kids in the tub as a precious moment, and want to remember that moment on film. Parents see the cuteness and innocence of their children and want to cherish that moment.
    Walmart and Peoria took a beautiful moment that these innocent parents wanted to remember, and damn near destroyed a family. Of which, the effects will felt for a longtime.
    Whether these particular parents happen to be guilty of misconduct? There is a bigger issue. America has taken nudity and made it dirty. This is where AANR needs to continue to do their public awareness that Nude Recreation and simple nudity is non sexual. We as Nudists/naturists need to continue to do our part as well. It still amazes me daily that our society thrives on a sexual based cultural (advertising, tv, etc…), but then gets freaked out over simple innocent nudity. Its a huge contradiction in terms.

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