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No offense but...

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When distilled to its lowest common denominator the reason so many have a problem with nudists and naturists is because they find nudity personally offensive. When people choose to take precious time out of their lives from arguably more important things to appear at public governmental hearings or to write letters demanding that a clothing-optional beach be closed down, while they may not put it specifically in these terms what they saying is this. "I'm offended by nudity and I want it to stop." The very reason they say it is because they have the expectation that it is their right to not suffer offense.

I am sure I'm not the only one who finds it more than a little disturbing that there seems to be more and more people in this country who evidently believe that they have the unassailable right to never be offended, ever? Part of living in a free society is tolerating freedom of expression. That means that some people, some times, are going to offend you. That is simply part of the deal. Unless someone is doing something that poses a real harm to themselves or others then no one really has any right to tell them not to do what they are doing.

As the president is fond of saying, let's be clear about this. Being offended is a choice. A person consciously chooses between feeling outraged about something and simply ignoring it. It’s the difference between trying to force your values on someone else and simply acknowledging that they have different values than you do, even if those values are something you sincerely disagree with.

Consider the recent court case in Florida where Michael Dunn stood trial for shooting and killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis. There are to be sure a host of complex social issues involved in that incident but based on the testimony the altercation that eventually culminated with a fatal shooting started because Mr. Dunn apparently took offense to the fact that what he considered "thug music" was emanating too loudly for his liking from the vehicle that Mr. Davis was a passenger in.

Mr. Dunn made it his business to register his offense with the vehicle occupants and demanded that the music be turned off. Predictably his complaint was not suffered gladly, an argument ensued that quickly escalated and culminated with a fatal shooting. The shooting aside, isn't it just a little insane that Mr. Dunn felt it was his right to accost someone in a public place demanding that they stop offending him with music he didn't appreciate and being played louder than he thought proper?

Fortunately altercations precipitated by offended people, at least up until now, have not routinely ended in fatal shootings but isn't the potential for violence something we as a society should start seriously thinking about? Shouldn't something be done to curb the wrong-headed belief that so many seem to have that they have a right to never be offended? I think it is time that legislatures and parks departments in this country stop basing policies on knee jerk reactions to complaints from offended people. I think before authorities close any more clothing-optional beaches that they start requiring a little higher standard from people then a mere claim of offense.

Given the popularity of litigation in our society, technically folks can sue one another for anything providing they have the money to retain a lawyer willing to take the case. Yet the fact remains, in order to prevail in court a real injury or harm constituting the basis for a claim by the injured party must be proven before damages will be awarded. Generally speaking, simply being offended is not going to meet that standard. The same test needs to be followed by authorities that make decisions about clothing-optional public areas. Someone just saying I should be able to go to the beach without seeing naked people because it offends me shouldn't be enough. It doesn't even matter if a 100 or 1,000 or even 10,000 people are saying it because guess what? We don't live in a democracy and too many people in this country believe we do. That's a problem. It is what gives rise to people choosing to be offended by things like nudity and then acting on it.

If you believe we live in a democracy I'm sorry but you have been misinformed. Don't believe it? I'll prove it. How many times is the word "democracy" used in the Constitution? The answer is none. How about the Declaration of Independence? Again, zero. There is a reason for that. Our founders, men who had lived under the tyranny of a king had no intention of establishing a democracy and for good reason. James Madison and others understood that in a democracy the majority rules and that can produce tyranny of the majority. Tyranny is tyranny whether dispensed by kings or mob rule. That is precisely why the Constitution focuses like a laser on restricting governmental powers, to secure and preserve individual liberty. The right to liberty is for all not just for the majority. The liberty of nudists and naturists to live according to the dictates of their own beliefs and consciences has and continues to be infringed by the majority who choose to be offended by nudity.

Too many in this country spend a lot of their time and effort looking for things to find fault with and to be offended by. In most of the cases things they are offended by are nothing more than inconsequential distractions. Their response, taking offense, is largely based on ego gratification not on actual life improvement. Seriously, don’t they have anything better to do? And if not, isn’t that a problem? Why spend time complaining about and being upset by other people who directly affect your life in absolutely no real way whatsoever? Why not accept that people are all different, have different interests and values and move on? If more people did that and spent less time choosing to be offended they would be happier and healthier in the long run.

Of course it is not realistic to believe that people who choose to be offended by something as insignificant as someone choosing to enjoy skinny dipping or nude sunbathing are suddenly go to wake up to the fact that they are idiots for choosing to be offended and will stop complaining. I firmly believe that some are always going to get up in arms about it. That is why it is so important that nudists and naturists pull together and start standing up collectively their rights to liberty.

In theory, if only one person in San Diego County wanted clothing optional access to San Onofre Beach and every other single person in the county opposed it, it should still be available. The rights of the many do not trump the rights of the few under our system of government. But clearly that isn't the way it has been working. The state is failing in its constitutional duty to protect the liberty of the individual. Liberty is a meaningless concept where tyranny of the majority is allowed to exist. If naturists and nudists want individual liberty they are going to have to organize and collectively demand it. It's really that simple.

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