I can’t get enough of the fawning coverage that my local liberal newspaper, the Washington Post, showers on dubious activist causes.
Yesterday, it was lactating moms baring their naked breasts at a Washington-area Starbucks. (See Not in My Latte!, Aug. 9.) Today it’s non-lactating (we hope) teen-agers of both sexes baring their naked entire selves at a youth nudist camp in Virginia. Yes, this, too, has become a civil rights issue, as the Virginia legislature passed a law last year requiring children attending nudist camps to be accompanied by a parent, grandparent, or legal guardian. The American Civil Liberties Union, natch, has jumped into the fray with a lawsuit, alleging a violation of parents’ constitutional right to raise their children as they deem fit. Such a right, of course, is nowhere to be found in the language of the Constitution, but the ACLU’s position seems to be that Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry’s acceptance-speech exhortation not to tamper with the Constitution applies only to Republicans.
The idea of a nudist summer camp for adolescents is actually a brand-new one. The aptly named White Tail (although not for long, huh?) co-ed camp for youngsters ages 11 to 17 opened only last year on the grounds of a nudist resort near Richmond. After complaints from alarmed constituents, Virginia’s lawmakers passed the restriction requiring the attendance of a related adult. The American Association of Nude Recreation, the camp’s sponsor, moved White Tail to an undisclosed location in an undisclosed state for this year’s session, so teen-agers may be somewhere playing naked water polo even as I write.
Maybe I’ve been brainwashed by the “textile world,” as nudists call the universe of people who don clothes before heading for the volleyball court. But I think that adolescents, hormone-charged and not fully mature, have a tough enough time dealing with their emotions and their sexuality even when fully dressed. So I think the Virginia legislature was fully within its rights to assess the situation and decide that Virginia teen-agers shouldn’t be thrown together in the buff 24/7 without a parent or other supervising adult nearby. And I’ve got to wonder about crusading nudist parents who insist on sending their children for a naked week in the woods with kids of the opposite sex. As the law’s sponsor, Republican Del. John S. Reid, a former middle-school principal, told the Washington Post: “I just do not think that environment is a productive and safe environment and a healthy environment for young people.”
Naturally the Washington Post treats the issue as a major civil-rights showdown. Reporter Karen Brulliard gushingly quotes a 13-year-old girl whose parents were married in an nudist ceremony: “It’s so much fun being a nudist. You really get closer to people than in the textile world.”
A little too close, in my book. But what do I know? I’m a textile person.