Tuesday, June 30, 2009



By : Rep. Victoria N. McCummings, Ph.D. (Child Development); Representative (New York State Legislature); Senior Chairperson, New York State Board of Decency Regulation; J.D., Yale University School of Law (1984); Art Lover.

You can scarcely turn on the news these days without hearing about some scandal involving nudity. All too often, these scandals affect the most vulnerable members of our society: Children. In our digital world, images travel fast. In centuries past, societies could better control nudity because there were not as many ways to broadcast it. Now, photography, the internet, television, DVD-video and even personal newspaper ads transmit nude images everywhere, without regard to whether an innocent child sees them. This is profoundly troubling because nudity is dangerous. That is why I have introduced legislation to curtail the expansion of nudity in 21st Century life.

I have never liked nudity. I do not like bare breasts, nipples, pubic hair, chests, genitalia or buttocks. They are—quite simply—disgusting. They revolt me. They are not pleasant to look at. When I was younger, I became physically ill when I saw a photograph depicting John Lennon and Yoko Ono standing naked next to each other. It was just revolting. Even before that, I became very uneasy when studying classical sculpture. Michelangelo’s David, for instance, often requires me to avert my eyes. I do not care whether art experts and nudity apologists say there is nothing threatening about these works. I disagree. Just think of the children who may see them. If they make me feel ill, imagine the damage they could do to children. It is heartbreaking to even think about it. If we truly care about our children, we must do something about nudity—now.

And it is getting worse. Teenagers use the internet to spread nude images all over the world in an instant. They post nudity on their Facebook pages, leading to shock, embarrassment and family strife. Clearly, we must do something about this. We must find a way to prevent children from accessing nude images, as well as from creating new nude images. Nude images are as dangerous as crack cocaine and crystal meth. Like drugs, nudity leads to immorality, licentiousness and unproductive behavior. Nudity is like a cancer. It threatens to undermine our society’s very foundations, just the way opium destroyed Chinese society in the 19th Century. Unless we act now, nudity could well destroy our Nation.

My legislative plan includes measures calculated to do two things: (1) Control existing nudity; and (2) Prevent the creation of new nudity. To control existing nudity, I propose making clothing mandatory at all times. Naked bodies cause untold damage to our society. When people see nudity, naughtiness, envy, disgust and even violence ensue. In short, nudity represents a very real social danger. To that extent, police measures are justified in reducing it. Public nudity has always been illegal. Traditionally, our society has drawn a moral line between female nipples on the street and female nipples in the home. But this is an irrational distinction; nudity is dangerous no matter whether it occurs in a full sports stadium or a private home. Nudity incites harmful behavior and leads to moral decline; it does not matter whether it occurs in public or private. In short, a female nipple is a female nipple, no matter where it is bared.

In this light, I propose legislation that will make private nudity a crime. No longer will citizens be allowed to sleep naked or even take showers without in some way “covering up.” Although group nudity poses greater dangers than individual nudity, individual nudity is dangerous to the extent that it incites bodily comfort in the perpetrator. That bodily comfort—like criminal intent—can mature into more severe offenses against the law and decency. In my view, bodily comfort is not good for society. By threatening criminal punishment for individual nudity, we can suppress bodily comfort. As long as some people are afraid to get undressed, we reduce the potential for nudity-related harm. We may not fully eradicate individual nudity, but we will at least strike fear into every man or woman who dares to remove his or her clothing at any time, for any reason. And less nudity means safer children.

We must also take steps against the creation of new nudity. Nudity is most dangerous when preserved in tangible form. Prior generations did not face this threat as much as we do. At most, statues and paintings depicted nudity, and only the rich could obtain them. Now, however, we are literally awash in nudity. Nakedness is everywhere. Photography and film largely bear responsibility for this terrible proliferation. Not coincidentally, crime and immorality have intensified in the generations since photography and film increased public access to nudity. We wonder why children talk back today? We wonder why people disrespect each other? We wonder why they hold nothing sacred? Simple: They see too much nudity and they spend too much time naked.

Under my legislative plan, we will combat this free fall by striking at the source: Devices that can create nude images. I intend to introduce legislation that will compel camera makers to develop “nudity-safe” mechanisms for their merchandise. These mechanisms will automatically detect whether the camera is recording a nude image, then disable the camera’s image-making capability. As soon as the nudity disappears, the camera will regain its image-creating capability. This represents a technological approach to stopping nudity proliferation. When my proposals become law, every camera sold in our State must meet Anti-Nudity obligations under the statute. The statute will also criminalize the possession, use and transfer of any camera or visual recording device that does not meet Anti-Nudity protocols under the law. By these measures, we will reduce the creation of nude images. In so doing, we will protect our children from a major source of potential nudity. If cameras literally cannot create nude images, we necessarily will see a drop in nudity. When there are less nude images, there will be less abuse on Facebook, less immorality on movie screens and safer children. A society with less nudity is a safer society.

I recognize that it will be difficult to eradicate all nudity-producing media. Artists will always paint or draw naked human bodies. But it takes much more skill to draw nudity than merely to record it with a camera. Additionally, direct Anti-Nudity obligations under the law will make it impossible for artists to observe nude models because models will no longer be able to lawfully pose in the nude. This will require artists to produce nude images solely from their imagination, not their direct observation. I believe that imagined nudity presents only a marginal threat to public decency. If an artist convincingly depicts fanciful nudity, the law can deal with him as necessary. Thankfully, there are not many artists with the ability or resources to produce large amounts of dangerous nudity. We can handle a few renegade painters. By eliminating nude photographs and movies, we eliminate the most widespread abuses. Everything else is just cleanup.

I am confident that I will obtain legislative support for my initiative against nudity. Like terrorism, nudity lurks among us. One can never know for sure whether the person next to us creates nude images, or whether he secretly wishes to get undressed. By taking strong action against nudity, we reduce the likelihood that nudity will affect our children. We will usher in a whole new era of safety in which our children learn that remaining fully clothed is far better than undressing. True, we will need to modify our behavior to comply with the law. We will have to learn to use the bathroom in new ways, shower in new ways and sleep in new ways. We will have to learn how to change our clothing without becoming fully naked. And we will have to learn how to reproduce with minimal nudity. Nonetheless, these are bearable burdens because they lead us to a better society—a nudity-free society. By waging war on nudity and the harmful social problems it creates, we both defend our children and edify ourselves. We are better than nudity. We can control it and defeat it. When we pass my law, the era of naked terror will see its last day.

Nudity is everyone’s concern. It is dangerous. We must band together and address it as a society. Today, we can take a step toward a better life—a fully clothed life. Once we overcome human nudity, we can conquer animal nudity, too. We have a duty to our children. Until every mammal learns that nudity is wrong, our children will not be completely safe. Until every dog, cat, hog, bird, horse, rabbit and cow learns to wear a coat and stockings, there will be danger in our society. But we will move incrementally. We will take one step at a time. Today, we move against nudity in humans. Tomorrow, we move against nudity everywhere—and when there is no more nudity, there is peace for all.

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