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Should public nudity be decriminalized?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/3/2016 Category: Society
Updated: 2 weeks ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 224 times Debate No: 95833
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
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Format: 1st round, presentation. 2nd, rebuttal. 3rd, counter rebuttal, final remarks.

I would like to argue not for the integration of social nudity into American society at large, but for the simple decriminalization of non-sexual nudity in public places. Much like the movement for the decriminalization for marijuana, I believe that non-sexual nudity is a victimless crime, and thus there exists no real reason to regulate it and criminalize it. In addition, I believe the criminalization of public nudity to be a censorship that violates every American's right to freedom of speech.

Legally, it has been shown again and again that nudity for the sake of protest, art, dance, or other means of communication falls into protected free speech. However, as in the case of San Francisco's recent ban on public nudity, most judges believe that non-purposeful nudity doesn't fall into that category of protected free speech, and thus nudity outside of those specific categories is automatically considered to be "indecent" or "lewd." I ask the simple question, why? If the non-sexual naked body is NOT indecent and NOT lewd when used for the purpose of protesting or art, then why does it suddenly become so when used in other ways? What is qualitatively, and more importantly, lawfully different about seeing a naked body in any non-sexual context? I suggest that there is no meaningful difference, and so while seeing someone nude for no discernable reason out in public may indeed be shocking to some, I don't see how one cannot be hypocritical if you prosecute one type of nudity but not the other.

Consider it this way: imagine that hats were legal to wear in protests or art, but not ball games. Do your eyes see the hat differently in either situation? No. Does the hat change somehow, based on the situation? No. Is there any difference between someone being painted while wearing a hat and someone just walking around in a hat? No. So why prosecute hat wearers at all?

Now let's talk about free speech. Clothing communicates a LOT about us: whether we are affluent, what music we listen to, our occupations, our preferences, our sense of fashion, intelligence, etc. So it is reasonable to suggest that clothing should be considered protected free speech. What's more, what our clothing says about us is dependent on who is looking at us: Ex. imagine I wear goth clothing. While a businessman may look at me and assume that I am communicating a negative idea (that I'm a hoodlum), another goth kid may assume that I am communicating a positive idea (that we are part of the same social group). Now, whether I am communicating a negative, or even offensive, message or a positive one, I still have the right to wear what I want!

The right to free speech IS NOT dependent on the perceived interpretation of the recipient. IE, it doesn't matter whether the message is received as offensive or not: I can still communicate whatever I want to.

It is not that far of a leap to suggest that choosing to wear NO clothing is a similar form of communication. In fact, it can say volumes more about who you are when you choose to not wear a swim suit to the pool, or jog in the nude, etc. And similarly to clothing, whether others view your choice of nudity as offensive should have NOTHING to do with whether it is protected free speech or not. And while one might think that everyone would indeed be offended by the occasional nude citizen, you would be wrong on that count.

In fact, in 2015, the majority of Americans polled stated that they were NOT personally offended by the non-sexual nudity of others. The full set of statistics on American opinion is here

When judges and lawmakers declare that non-purposeful nudity is "indecent" and "lewd," they are essentially declaring that the majority of society would think just that, and this poll demonstrates that these judges are very much out of touch with reality!

I believe, with few exceptions, any law that censures free speech for the sake of not "offending" someone is a violation of the First Amendment. The one applicable exception is the "danger" clause: IE if one's free speech were to endanger others, this is not protected free speech. The common example is yelling "fire" in a crowded theater when there isn't one. So the obvious question is: does public nudity endanger the public at large?

No. For both children and adults, nudity has absolutely zero negative effect on their mental or physical well-being. And while yelling fire might cause a dangerous stampede, seeing a couple of naked joggers at the park would, at most, incite stares and maybe a few giggles. As American adults, we are expected to live in a pluralistic society with vast differences of opinions, and to do so peacefully. If one had an issue with public nudity, that is personal issue, not a criminal one. Nudity may make you uncomfortable, but it certainly isn't a form of mental torture. As far as children, they could care less if people are nude or not. In a non-sexual context, nudity can actually promote the kind of conversations more parents need to be having with their children about anatomy, bodily acceptance, and the oh-so-terrifying sex talk.

Contrary to popular opinion, decriminalizing public nudity would NOT give a free pass to exhibitionists, voyeurs, flashers, or even peeping Tom's. Mooning others, flashing others, sexual conduct in public, and other such displays would be no more legal than they are now, and police would still have the authority to arrest offenders. And it's pretty easy to spot creepy guys doing creepy things, as opposed to your typical social nudist.

Now one might argue that private institutions should have the right to set their own dress code, and I agree! The "No shoes, No shirt, No service" sign might have to be expanded to "no pants," but that wouldn't change with the decriminalization of public nudity. Don't want naked people to sit on your seats in your restaurant? Fine! However, any public park, road, pool, beach, or other public facilities would not be able to enforce such dress codes legally. In this way, those who were uncomfortable with nudity could still maintain control over their businesses. The one exception might be public schools, courthouses, and other government offices, which would be treated like private institutions, free to set their own dress codes.

Some might rightfully wonder "why even bother?" Do the benefits of decriminalizing nudity outweigh the potential public outrage or fear? I argue yes.

1) the right to free speech is protected
2) social nudists believe that nudity is not inherently sexual. If that belief became more widespread, we would see less objectification of women throughout America.
3) Most Americans, except for perhaps doctors and morticians, see very few "real" naked bodies. Seeing that not everyone has perfect bodies would increase body acceptance for your average citizen.
4) police could focus on real problems in our cities.
5) removing the taboo around nudity would make it easier for families to discuss anatomy and sexuality with their children.
6) groups such as #FreeTheNipple are fighting to give women the same rights as men with regards to topfreedom. This would expedite their cause
7) breast feeding would no longer be seen as an offensive act.
8) people who would otherwise never try out skinny dipping, saunas, or other nude events might be encouraged to do so, further reducing body shame.
9) nudity on television is censured way more than violence or obscene language. Legalizing public nudity would lead to a more even censuring. While some may see this as a negative, I believe exposure to normalized nudity through TV would further solidify body acceptance.
10) those who choose to take their jogs in the buff and other such activities would save water by reducing their laundry loads.
11) the fashion industry's marketing focus on sexuality and body shaming through "perfect" models might be dealt a critical blow, helping to end body shaming and bodily objectification.
12) the most common form of nudity, in the household, would no longer be needlessly prosecuted. If someone is naked in their own home, and they are indifferent as to whether others can see them, they should have the right to keep their windows open without fear of prosecution from oversensitive neighbors.

While it may seem preposterous that something such as nudity could ever become widely accepted as normal, I don't believe that is the case. Previous and current civilized societies, such as the Greco-Romans and the Swedes, have very accepting views of nudity, so it seems clear to me that the taboo of nudity is a learned construct, not a natural one. Americans used to believe that it was lewd for men to show their chests, and it was only decriminalized in 1936! Yet today, such a thing seems incredibly naive and prudish. Today, it is acceptable for men and women to swim wearing bikinis and speedos, when that would be virtually naked, and in fact criminal, in 1935. And shortly after the decriminalization of male nipples, Hollywood started filming things such as Tarzan, with very prominent male toplessness, normalizing it in the public eye. Though it was a hot button issue in 1936, by 1940 it had already been forgotten. It is reasonable to assume that if public nudity were decriminalized today, a similar social acceptance would follow.

Thus, I believe that if non-sexual public nudity were decriminalized, while we wouldn't see a massive wave of nudity hit the streets, we would see a slow, but steady acceptance of social nudity in certain contexts such as swimming, picnicking in the park, sunbathing in one's backyard without a privacy fence, and other such activities. Perhaps over time, social nudists would even establish restaurants and other businesses geared towards the clothing-optional cliente


I would like to open with the statement that in principle I would support decriminalization of all victimless crimes in general, to the extent that a society can allow for that without infringing on others.

Upon reading the opening remarks of my opponent I found many of the lines of arguments I wished to employ to be essentially invalid and as such will acknowledge respectfully that I now agree that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with non-sexual public nudity.

From here I find that the only issue left for me to contend is not the principal or "moral" contention but the practical and social aspect of decriminalizing public non-sexual nudity (NSN).
Firstly the issue of free speech must be addressed, we are entitled to in a public venue or private venue owned by one"s self, to speak on any topic and express oneself in any way possible, provided it does not inflict on another"s rights. As such there are in fact limits to free speech that are entailed in the maintenance of a society.
I will acknowledge that NSN does, in fact, fall within the category of protected free speech and therefore be allowed and protected in the arts, protests, demonstrations and as a message in public dialog.
This does not mean however that it should be allowed within every realm of the public domain, the blurredness of the lines comes with the subjective nature of sexuality and the rather physical communication that is nudity.
In a society where the population has no qualms with open nudity, there would, in fact, be no issue, medical concerns would be appropriately addressed there would be no social or psychological issues to contend with, just as a society that had no problem with open sexual conduct would have no need to regulate the practice other than perhaps hygienic issues.
We, however, share our public space with multiple populations of people, some of which hold beliefs that it would constitute significant psychological discomfort to be exposed to nudity.
There are also issues of what kinds of behaviour would be deemed appropriate when interactions between members of differing attitudes occurred, would a young women or man, who leered, ogled or spied on the naked form of a social nudist be deemed inappropriate for reacting this way? what kinds of sexual advances among citizens might need to be reformed? Physical contact between populations accidental and deliberate now needs redefining or at least awareness raising. Up until the point of decriminalizing nudity, our society has largely not had to account for what is lewd behaviour within this social dynamic as a significant section of the populous, rightly or wrongly, have been conditioned to sexualise the nude form.
Lastly there are issues of hygiene, nudity unlike other Free Speech protected rights, is not merely an exchange of ideas, but can manifest as a physical/biological phenomenon, an individual may have contagious skin conditions or lower than acceptable hygiene standards, do their inalienable free speech rights entitle them the use of public property or here is there a strong case to be made for medicinal clothing?

In conclusion, I once again am forced to admit that I have in fact been persuaded by my opponent that intellectually NSN is a victimless crime and in an ideal world should be completely acceptable.
In reality, however, I see social and medical reasons that there needs to be at minimum some regulation of Nudity within society. I see no conflict in allowing persons to use nudity in public communication (art, protest or other ideological displays) within reason, however, in general, I believe that as a society the discussion should be opened so we can decide where to draw our legal lines and to what degree we can reasonably limit the freedoms of others.
I am arguing against public nudity only so far as hygienic, social and psychological issues demand that it must be limited which I believe is to some non-trivial degree.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for your honest engagement in this discussion. We agree now that 1) there is nothing intrinsically wrong with non-sexual public nudity, and 2) that NSN does fall into protected free speech.

So I believe I have already won the debate, as the issue at hand is, "Should public nudity be decriminalized." If something is a protected Right, under the Bill of Rights, then it is unconstitutional to criminalize that right and so bans on NSN are in fact illegal. Ipso Facto, not only SHOULD we decriminalize NSN, it is actually already legal, and the government infringes on our rights when they prosecute us for NSN. This is similar to the unconstitutional discrimination against blacks with Jim Crow laws: Just because the majority of a community is united against a minority doesn't make it okay to discriminate.

Now, although the question up for debate is simple decriminalization, I will entertain thoughts on just how limited or unlimited NSN should be.

I concede the point that any decriminalization of NSN would need to have some restrictions for health purposes. Just as guns can be regulated for public safety, so too could NSN. Such regulations would have to be set up so as to not regulate the right out of existence, however. One practical restriction would be that public benches could not be sat upon without some sort of cloth between the persons rear and the bench, such as a towel. And honestly, any nude person who knows anything about hygiene wouldn't likely sit on public benches without a towel anyways, for their own safety. And as I've already stated, private businesses and other private property would be able to set their own dress codes, just as they already do. Offenders of said dress codes could be prosecuted for trespassing if they failed to comply.

I disagree that NSN should be regulated on psychological and social grounds. Social conservatives, and most conservative evangelical Christians, would argue that nudity is inherently sexual and so all nudity, public or not, constitutes lewd behavior.[1] So there is a clear contradiction between the idea that NSN is legal and hence NOT in violation of lewdness laws for the specific cases of protesting and art, but is in fact lewd for other public events. As I stated before, in order to not be hypocritical, we would either have to ban ALL forms of public nudity or allow ALL forms of it. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

The argument that nudity is inherently sexual is full of holes, exceptions, and contradictions, and so I argue that it has no place in setting public policy. "Nudity is inherently sexual, except when doctors and nurses see nudity. Then it's not sexual." "Nudity is inherently sexual, except when morticians see naked dead bodies. Or when anyone sees naked dead bodies." "Nudity is inherently sexual, except for indigenous tribes native to tropical areas, or some European countries." Or how about how nudity is not inherently sexual for pre-pubescent children, asexuals, straight men looking at other straight men, etc? Or how about the fact that 52% of Americans wouldn't be offended by NSN? Presumably, they also don't believe that nudity is always inherently sexual. And though they might not wish to see other's bodies in their nude state, US citizens don't have the right to restrict other's rights just because it bothers them. I can't take away my neighbor's guns just because guns bother me. And what's more, if the decriminalization of male toplessness in 1936 and its subsequent cultural and social acceptance are any indication, a public decriminalization of NSN would have an immediate effect on cultural acceptance of NSN.

In addition, although lewd behavior is indeed a subjective terminology and so is subject to societal interpretation, I would argue that without hard evidence of where societal opinion lies, this vagueness actually renders any public indecency or lewd behavior law "void for vagueness." And in fact, the hard evidence suggests that acceptance for NSN is not only the majority, but has steadily been on the rise for years (see previous source for poll). Therefore, it would be a safe assumption to say that, were NSN decriminalized, America as a whole would not consider it to be lewd behavior.

So how should lawmakers restrict nudity with regards to lewdness? As of now, most laws simply state that public indecency or lewd behavior is any exposure of genitals or anus, or something along those lines. Those laws would now be unconstitutional and would have to be reworded to allow for NSN, perhaps by specifically stating that mere nudity is not lewd behavior, but actions like public masturbating, groping, mooning, etc are.

In any case, no matter how much psychological discomfort nudity may cause some, I believe such gymnophobic attitudes should be treated with as much consternation as racist, misogynist, and classist attitudes are. When slaves were freed in America, did that not cause significant psychological, and even economical, stress on Southern Americans? Of course! Yet as an inalienable right, freedom could not wait on Southerners to become non-racist in their attitudes and treatments of previous slaves. In fact, I would say that freeing slaves is what caused the movement towards equal treatment and non-racist views in the first place! So it is in some ways irrelevant if people have psychological discomfort with nudity now. It is an inalienable right to express one's self in nudity, so everyone else has an obligation to get on board, just as the South had to for racism. And gay marriage is similarly now a protected right, even though merely seeing gay couples is a source of great discomfort to some homophobic people.

Now I have saved a religious discussion for last, considering that Evangelical and/or conservative Christians would likely constitute the largest opposition to such a decriminalization. Someone in the comments mentioned that some Christians would oppose the measure because they are prohibited from looking at any nude women except for their wives. This is a false assertion. Christians are not prohibited from looking at nudity: They are prohibited from lusting, IE desiring that which is not yours sexually. The two are quite different things. And not every denomination even agrees that mere lusting is a sin. Most would agree that merely being nude, or appreciating the human form, is not sinful, else being nude in front of your doctor would be a sin, and looking at nude artwork would be a sin.

Catholic Church:
Pope John Paul II stated that "The human body can remain naked and uncovered and preserve intact its splendour and its beauty " Nakedness as such is not to be equated with physical shamelessness " Immodesty is present only when nakedness plays a negative role with regard to the value of the person " The human body is not in itself shameful " Shamelessness (just like shame and modesty) is a function of the interior of a person."[2]

He also state that with regards to nudity, one sins not if you have a sexual reaction to nudity, but if you objectify the nude person.

"The human body per se is not impure, nor is the reaction of sensuality, nor sensuality itself. Impurity begins when the will appropriates the reaction of sensuality and reduces the other person - because of his or her body and sex - to an object of pleasure."[3]

So clearly: members of the Catholic Church have nothing to fear from seeing nudity in the public square, and they represent 22% of the total US population. [4]

Protestants represent 53% of the American population,[4] but because of the wide diversity of views even within the same denomination, I would be unable to summarize which churches believe what about nudity in this space. Suffice it to say that there are in fact those within Protestantism who believe that nudity is NOT inherently sexual.[5][6] And those who disagree frequently admit that exposure to nudity does in fact "empty... [the nude body] of its implicit eroticism and [make] public nakedness seem merely common and non-sexual."[7] Which would, in effect, be the same as believing that nudity is not inherently sexual.

Though Catholics believe that it is possible to view the nude body and not sin, many Protestants fear that viewing nudity would lead to lusting. Is this a valid fear? I argue no, because even for those who believe that nudity IS inherently sexual, they themselves admit that viewing nudity regularly desensitizes you to its sexual effects. Therefore, the solution to not having unwanted sexual thoughts is to inoculate yourself to nudity by VIEWING many normal nude bodies in everyday situations. This would happen whether they wanted to or not, similarly to how ankles used to be a sexually attractive part of a woman's body in the past. Now we have normalized it because we see ankles all the time.

In conclusion, while I concede that there should be common sense health regulations on NSN, I disagree that there should be any regulations based on potential psychological or social discomfort, because such discomfort is a result of gymnophobia. This gymnophobia would naturally die away as NSN became more normalized throughout society, just as it did with male toplessness in 1936.



Ok so if the debate was framed that my conceding that any decriminalisation at all constitutes defeat, then I am willing to accept my loss (I say this so my discussion is not interpreted as moving goal posts, if one feels that this was in fact the framework for the debate, I acknowledge the position of Con in this argument is untenable).

So building from absolute freedom, to necessary regulation by law, my main concern now is to open the dialog to what exactly constitutes reasonable regulations by government or in other words reasonable laws around NSN. On the topic of religion, I currently hold no religious beliefs and while I will defend another"s rights to hold their beliefs free of reprimand, my support ends at the confines of a religious persons own mind, so in regards to this issue we agree that religious arguments have no standing here and can table them as something we do not dispute, or unpack them together to demonstrate for any audience that the argument has no merit with regards to legal freedoms or delving deeper, human behaviour as an ideal.

I am glad that Hygiene as a standard is accepted as the bare minimum restriction as it protects interests of all parties here, most importantly to nudists themselves as nudity as a physical reality entails exposure of slightly more sensitive bodily parts.
As a matter of constitution, I have been convinced thus far and will accept for the sake of argument and communication that you are correct, it is a constitutionally protected right. So on the issue of whether or not it is a freedom that should be protected by law to the fullest extent it can, again I feel I have been persuaded and we can shelve this part as a reasonable conclusion and common ground. Similar to what we have done with religion.
So where the rest of the discussion needs to occur, is now that we have an issue we needs lines drawn and to decide where do we draw them?
I would like to know if you find free speech and free expression or the right to possess weapons, analogous branches of law and philosophy here, these are fundamental and inalienable rights but as a matter of implementation and societal freedoms have real world limitation.
I also reject the analogy to slavery, not as an emotional reaction, I feel the actions of agents and institutional oppression were both operant endemically in slavery practices. It is also my understanding that for the majority of cases, it is institutional forces that oppress NSN, there aren"t systems in place where individual citizens can deliberately acquire "NSN oppression" and have economic, resource, time and social benefits. Having said that your point of massive paradigm shifts made with the analogy was taken.
So given 90% of your points, moving a society from "here" (social norms of now) to "there" (NSN acceptance) by necessity would have intermediate steps of regulation.
Rejection of social factors on your part may have been premature, consider that we are dealing with a lot of physiology here too, while certain members of society like the NSN community can understand that a 19 year old (teenagers in general) may in fact have no control over public arousal (especially if the newly lifestyle is newly adopted) can you understand the feelings of a mother or father who may have child or maturing minor around such a scene?
Nudity is not merely an ideological expression, it is inherently tied to biology, physiology and to an extent psychology, therefore when you populate the world in the number of even thousands, and representatives of the entire spectrum of human values interact with the maximum possible degrees of freedom would you not agree that a non-trivial amount of societal interaction calls for regulation on the legal level?
The reason prepubescent nudity by most is considered trivial is because the majority of people consider children both Non-sexual objects and Non-sexual beings, they are neither able to be sexualized or able to sexualize others by most assessments. However, this changes with age and there aren"t clear lines indicating as to when it is and isn"t morally justifiable to sexualize a young adult in the best of cases or to accept the sexual advances of a being who may not be able to assess what the consequences of their actions are (pregnancy is an obvious example but there are also things like social development factors, psychological attachment, sexual rivalry). Let alone when misanthropic or selfish motives do also exist, not everyone is willing or capable of the level of maturity and compassion needed for such freedoms, will you at least except laws that while may cause frustration for a minority who mature faster, protect those of us that want this freedom from the likes of those who would deliberately or accidentally abuse it and cause harm more serious than conditional restriction of a right?
I am not saying that clothing is the only way to advertise the lack of consent to be sexualised or that being nude inherently sexualises people, but if we can"t agree there is some overlap then by my lights the conversation is moot.

In list form I think some of the concerns that would need Law level social regulation at least in implementing this freedom are:

Age, with respect to maturity.
Rights, with respect to the behaviour of others towards one"s self.
Parental rights, relating to issues of consent and stewardship of the wellbeing of minors.
Hygiene, we have agreed on this and I acknowledge there are not issues of contention here.
Psychology, with respect to what allowances behaviourally can be made for individuals who have not been educated or exposed to nudity as a possibility let alone an inalienable freedom.
Transition, in the hope that I have at least somewhat articulated my views and persuaded you that some things will still need legal regulation, what and where do we change and how quickly do we change it?
Should we start by abolishing the inequity between male and female nipple exposure? (I feel this would be a big enough first step socially and a small enough enforceable change societally that it would still encounter all the issues I brought up but in more palatable way for most. It would also serve as a way to model at least some future problems the policy encounters in transitioning and make easier having systems in place to address my concerns and achieve what you feel is an inalienable right of any citizen)

In closing, you may feel I am not resisting, or the argument is won, I feel differently, I acknowledge I have been put into a more reasonable place but so far the reasonable ground between us seems to not have become common ground by your responses, in particular your lack of acknowledging basic psychological realities of human interaction as factors to even be considered in what degree NSN can be decriminalized and conversely where it must be criminal (penalty severity is another issue).

I mean no ad hominem and look forward to engaging once again in what I have been convinced by some of the arguments you have presented and the values I deem reasonable and appropriate to be the actual lay lines of this issue.
Debate Round No. 2


Once again, thank you for your willingness to be civil and well-reasoned in this debate.

As you have acknowledged twice now, you agree now that public nudity should be decriminalized. Our points of contention, as I see it, are simply how such a decriminalization should be implemented and limited.

You take issue with some of my analogies for not being direct analogues to free speech. Okay, allow me to make a better analogy. Sikhs are a religious group who believe that they have to carry a sword or ceremonial knife on their person at all times, along with 4 other articles of religious significance. In most places this is accommodated, whether there are open carry laws or not because it is an expression of religious freedom.[1] The line between public safety and First Amendment rights is clearly on the side of Rights in this specific example. Why? Well perhaps because as a whole, the Sikhs are a very peaceful group.

By analogy, seeing as how nudists tend to not promote violence or sexual displays, I would say that the implementation of the decriminalization of NSN should favor free speech rights, rather than regulation for the sake of potential psychological discomfort.

>> So given 90% of your points, moving a society from "here" (social norms of now) to "there" (NSN acceptance) by necessity would have intermediate steps of regulation. <<

I disagree. I don't think the best strategy for decriminalization of a protected Right is to take baby steps and ease the populace in. That being said, the likely method by which NSN would be decriminalized is city by city, state by state, until enough support grew for it that federal lawmakers voted on a bill in public nudity's favor, much like what is happening with marijuana, topfreedom, and what happened with gay marriage. In effect, the populace would indeed have time to ease into the idea of its legality.

Hillary Clinton did not support gay marriage just 20 years ago because it wasn't politically expedient to, yet now she is in open support of it. What's the big difference? Gay marriage has been legalized! There is a real psychological effect that happens knowing that your government has legalized something that has been criminal for so long. There's the idea that if the government legalized it, the majority of Americans must be okay with it, so I should be okay with it. Yes, people would oppose the idea, but that doesn't mean we should restrict a protected right for their sake. If they disagree with the right, then they can lobby for more restrictions.

>> while certain members of society like the NSN community can understand that a 19 year old (teenagers in general) may in fact have no control over public arousal (especially if the newly lifestyle is newly adopted) can you understand the feelings of a mother or father who may have child or maturing minor around such a scene? <<

Let's unpack this situation. You are implicitly assuming that a clothed, heterosexual boy would be seeing a nude, attractive female and be unable to control their arousal in public, and that we should regulate NSN rights in order to avoid this awkward situation. Unfortunately, unwanted arousal is simply a reality of being a hormonal teenager, and it happens sometimes at random, let alone when seeing someone attractive. So unless we also regulate attractive people out of the public arena, I don't see a practical way in which to avoid awkward arousal in public at all, let alone when seeing NSN. And parents who are squeamish about dealing with their children's sexuality are not doing their children a favor in the first place by avoiding the subject. Parents should teach their children that it's normal to find certain people attractive, but that it's rude to stare. Simple enough talk, if you ask me.

You're also envisioning a situation like a public park with a lone female roving around in the buff while everyone else is clothed. Unless she is doing this for artistic purposes, I highly doubt such a situation would be all that common, because being the only nude person in a sea of clothed people feels, well, naked to most people. So I'd like to redirect your imagination to perhaps the most common scenario that would occur: Nude beaches. If NSN were decriminalized in public arenas, then public lakes, riverfronts, and beaches would likely see an influx of the brave nude few. Let's face it: skinny dipping just feels better. 35% of Americans have gone skinny dipping, and 57% believe that there should be designated areas where it is legal to do so.[2] Both numbers have been going up steadily over the decades, so I would expect for even more to try it once NSN was decriminalized. And remember, 52% of Americans are NOT offended by nudity. If the current 48% wished to avoid nudity, there are private lakes, private beach fronts, etc.

So let's say this family just happened upon a beach with entirely nude people. What this family would quickly find out is that THEY would feel like the ones sticking out wearing bathing suits, and that bodies are just bodies, and sexual arousal just isn't all that common when everyone is in the nude. It would seem that 170,000 years of humanity's original nudity actually prepared us to avoid arousal in large groups. No one discovers this except nudists, however, so your fears, along with said hypothetical family, are unwarranted.[3]

Even considering the hypothetical scenario where a lone nudist is wandering around in public, I really don't think public reaction would be as strongly negative as you presume. This is excerpted from an account of a woman's first topless roller blading trip through NYC, where women can legally be topless.

"To my absolute bewilderment, the frenzy of attention and judgment that I had anticipated was actually anything but. Apart from two women " one who gave me a high five as she passed on her bike shouting "that"s awesome" and the other yelling "I want in" " nobody really even commented. Runner upon biker upon stroller upon driver passed by without so much as a second glance at me. I found myself repeating aloud, "Nobody cares " this is totally natural." The shock value was null. I thought I would get a few sideways glances or a whistle or comments from a guy or two, but nada. The potential objectifying feeling of being bare-chested rollerblading on a public bridge wasn"t there. The further I got, the more comfortable I became. I then realized, the more at ease I am with this, the more others will be as well. It was like any sexualized stigma or backlash I feared melted away the closer I got to the other side."[4]

So if you're wondering how families would react to more regularized nudity, I would start by assuming quiet silence, rather than active protest and disgust. Perhaps some would privately disagree, while others would privately be envious of the nudist's courage to bare all.

>>Age, with respect to maturity.
Rights, with respect to the behaviour of others towards one"s self.
Parental rights, relating to issues of consent and stewardship of the wellbeing of minors.<<

For age regulations, I believe you wished to regulate how old one would have to be before being allowed to be nude, such as our drinking age? Or perhaps you were meaning to regulate against exposing children to nudity. I believe both would be extremely difficult to implement for the kind of decriminalization we are talking about. How do you stop a child from seeing a nude jogger outside her window? And should every public park have a gated entrance with ID checks for age? I think what would likely happen with decriminalization is that parents who had concerns about children seeing nudity would simply go to private parks and lakes, and simply instruct their children to not look if and when they saw a nudist. As far as child nudity, I do agree that those legal waters would be tricky to navigate. Those who took pictures of children could still be prosecuted for child pornography, so the bigger question is whether the government could punish pedophiles for staring at nude children, with the obvious answer being yes. In fact, we can already do that under Peeping Tom laws. I think that the choice to allow their children's nudity should be the parent's and the child's though, and not the government's, because children enjoy skinny-dipping as much as adults, if not more, because they have less inhibitions about nudity than we do.

You see, I think you're coming at this from the wrong angle: You think NSN supporters should accommodate the general public's gymnophobia, when I argue that it is the other way around. NSN is a protected free speech right, and so for members of the public who are gymnophobic, their recourse is either to get on board or use private facilities. The law is supposed to protect people from physical danger, from discrimination, and from unreasonable mental discomfort, yes, but not at the expense of our individual rights. You talk about regulating nudity to specific areas, when I argue that clothing-only areas should be the safe spaces for gymnophobes. You agree with me that we have the right to NSN as a means of free speech. No one has the right not to see it.

I'd like to close by once again reminding voters that the principal question of the debate was whether we should decriminalize public nudity. Both my opponent and I agree that yes, it should be, and so there is only one choice for this vote. Even voting for con, in this case, is conceding that public nudity should be decriminalized, so vote pro.



I am, going to do something I honestly did not expect to do when accepting the challenge of this debate. It is bittersweet and oddly refreshing, I am going to concede defeat here totally. My concerns have not only been addressed but addressed to my satisfaction, for those who feel I was a bad spokesperson for their views or there are reasons I failed to see for keeping nudity criminalized... tough. I did the best I could with the faculties I have and have become convinced I held views on a spurious ground.

My interlocutor and I engaged honestly and after having done so it was MY worldview that was informed, I now am forced to admit, as does my interlocutor, that the only concerns are age related and parental rights related but are not great enough to warrant the limiting of this freedom and are surmountable issues given dialog and legislature.

Thank you for an honest exchange of Ideas.
Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by johnchrome 3 weeks ago
You clearly don't see the point I was trying to make. Gymnasiums were NOT only men, and they were very much public, not private. There's also the matter of public outdoor baths, where men and women co-mingled in a very social setting (although admittedly some cities discouraged this). Regardless, there's one aspect of Greco-Roman life that cannot be ignored: latrines. Very much coed and no concerns for privacy whatsoever.

The illustration shows accurately how public restrooms looked and operated in ancient Rome. If you think the early Roman Christians were as prude about genitals and nudity, even in mixed gender, as Americans are today, you are mistaken. That prudishness comes not from Christian morality, but Victorian prudishness. Interestingly, when you look at the most prude societies in history, such as the Victorians and the Puritans, you find an INCREASE in sexual behavior. Roughly 2 in 3 brides in both societies were pregnant on their wedding days. It would seem that repression of sexual behavior leads to the "forbidden fruit" effect. So for all your complaining of the absurdity of nudity in public, I believe you'd find it actually reduces unwanted sexual behavior by removing the forbidden fruit effect from society.

As far as nudity on billboards, I was speaking not of nudity, but of "busty babes" in bikinis, or news anchors needing to be attractive. These are clear examples of sexual objectification of the female form, which Christians should be against, ostensibly.
Posted by TheBenC 3 weeks ago
You again come back with what happened 2000 years ago in Israel and again it is a dumb example because it is a group of only men in a private setting. They never walked the streets naked. It does not correlate at all.

Oversexualized ads? I have yet to see boobs on a billboard. Not one time did I see any nudity on one billboard.

Then you go into even dumber and dumber arguments, equating nudity to racism and bigotry. Damn...
Posted by johnchrome 3 weeks ago

"Nobody should be subjected to seeing naked butt all over the place." There are members of the public who believe that no one should be subjected to oversexualized ads, yet boobs are on billboards, on TV, women with them are frequently chosen as anchors on the news, etc. Yet I don't see the outcry against such blatant sexual objectification from Christians who supposedly don't want to be subjected to lust in the public arena.

There are also those who don't want to have to see blacks in their community. Or Muslims. Or gays. But guess what? Americans don't have the right to discriminate against them, do they? Just because you have a personal issue with nudity doesn't mean you have the right to dictate into law against it.

Also, since we're on the topic of nudity in Jesus' time, Paul specifically stated that naked exercise at the gym was "good for the body" in 1 Timothy 4:8. You see, the word for exercise and gym in Greek comes from gymnos, meaning naked, and as I'm sure you know, gymnasiums were places of social gathering for both men and women, in the nude. That is where schools were taught, with nude philosopher teaching nude students after nude exercise. For Paul to say that this was GOOD flies right in the face of everything many conservative Christians say about nudity. I don't know if you're a Christian, but if you are, that should give you pause as this is no straw man argument, nor is it taking a verse out of context. Clearly, Paul's sense of modesty was different from our own.

Your proclivity for imagining the worst in such a situation shows your bias. Nudists come in all shapes and sizes, and I can guarantee that you would see nude bodies that you found attractive as well as those you didn't. It doesn't really matter though, because judging people based on their attractiveness only is call objectification, and it's not a great thing to do, IMHO.

As far as the religious arguments, please read my rebuttal for my answer to that.
Posted by TheBenC 3 weeks ago
A group of men performing a ritual with momentary nakedness is not the same as sitting in a restaurant and seeing some fat naked slobs walk by. I don't want to see that and don't want kids exposed to it as well. Comparing the YMCA, again a group of only men in a private setting, is just a strawman argument. Nobody should be subjected to seeing naked butt all over the place.

There are pervs out there, like the flashers you mentioned. If your idea happens, they can just show everyone their stuff legally! Do you want to sit on something that some guy's naked butt was on? Will there be safe spaces for people who don't want to see this stuff? What about religion and the people who believe it is wrong to look at a naked woman other than their wife? Will you force them to go against their beliefs any time they go anywhere?
Posted by johnchrome 3 weeks ago
Non-sexual nudity: any state of undress, whether partial or full, in which the person or persons are not engaging in any kind of sexual activity at all. For the purpose of this debate, assume I mean full nudity. There are those who believe that all nudity is ipso facto sexual in nature: they are free to their opinion, but considering that there are a significant portion of Americans who think that nudity can be separated from sexuality, I would say it's far from a decided subject.

TheBenC: Jesus was baptised naked. Does that make him a perv? In fact, all Christians and Jews were baptised completely nude until the 4th century. The YMCA conducted all of their swimming classes in the nude until the 40s or 50s. Does that make them, and every single boy who was a member, a perv?
Posted by TheBenC 3 weeks ago
So pervs walking around with their wang out is a form of free speech? ugh
Posted by warren42 3 weeks ago
"non-sexual nudity" should be defined explicitly. To some that may mean female breasts are acceptable, and to others it may not.
No votes have been placed for this debate.