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Madcap 'Castro Nudists' continue futile fight against public nudity ban

San Francisco's self-styled body freedom advocates aka the "Castro Nudists" held yet another rally on Saturday, March 8, 2014, in Jane Warner Plaza in the Castro District. In what has become by this point a mind-numbing exercise in futility, the group organized another public protest of the public nudity ban that they provoked last year.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 01: (EDITORS NOTE: Image contains nudity) Nude activists Trey Allen (R) and Gypsy Taub protest San Francisco's new ban on nudity at San Francisco City Hall on February 1, 2013 in San Francisco, California.
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

In a SF Weekly article published March 10, it was revealed that the group has retained a new attorney, D. Gill Sperlein, who will represent them in another federal lawsuit against the City of San Francisco challenging that the anti-public nudity ordinance infringes on their constitutional right to free speech. Never mind the inconvenient facts that the U.S. Supreme Court has long held and has issued numerous opinions that the state of nudity is neither speech nor expressive conduct.

In an interview with the SF Weekly Sperlein acknowledged "The courts have held that mere nudity is not speech" but added, "I don't know that I agree with this. I think by taking one's clothes off in public you are making a pretty powerful statement about freedom and body acceptance." Unfortunately for Sperlein and the "Castro Nudists" many people at various times have disagreed with decisions handed down by the Supreme Court but that hasn't changed the law.

While Sperlein claims his clients have "a very strong case" the truth is this latest legal challenge of the San Francisco public nudity ban on First Amendment grounds will predictably meet the same fate as the previous federal lawsuit filed by the group in February 2013. U.S. District Judge Edward Chen summarily dismissed that suit citing Supreme Court precedent opinions that "nudity is not protected speech because it is not inherently expressive.”

The truth is the "Castro Nudists" enjoy the same freedom of speech rights as any American. They are free to assemble, to demonstrate and to advocate for body freedom and body acceptance whenever and wherever they wish. They can picket, hand out flyers, start petition drives or do any other lawful activity in an attempt to petition government for change and sway the opinions of the general public. They simply can't do any of that while appearing nude in public unless they wish to risk fines or jail time for violating the ordinance that their own obnoxious behavior produced.

One is left to wonder whether it is arrogance, ignorance, a desperate need for attention or some combination thereof that motivates the "Castro Nudists" to pursue the same ineffectual strategy that has already proven to be a failure. It is simply an exercise of banging one's head against a proverbial brick wall where anyone with a modicum of common sense can readily see there is absolutely no hope of success.

Fewer people are showing up for the "Castro Nudist" rallies and fewer still of those are showing up nude. The group is no longer attracting much in the way of mainstream press coverage. The truth it seems is rank and file San Franciscans have grown weary of the group and bored with their cause. Hopefully Gypsy Taub, George Davis and their cohorts will soon go silent and quietly take their place in San Francisco history. Most of us understand that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is as Albert Einstein famously noted a definition of insanity. With regard to the "Castro Nudists" it is well past time for the insanity to stop.

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