There was an interesting post published at Young Naturist America January 29, 2014, "Is The Petition For More Clothing-Optional Areas Worthwhile or A Big Waste of Time?" I appreciated the thoughts of the writer, identified only as an anonymous guest blogger.
In fairness a more accurate title might have been "The Petition for More Clothing-Optional Areas a Big Waste of Time" since all the points offered leaned in that direction. But still that is exactly the kind of discussion it was hoped the petition would produce. So this isn't offered as a rebuttal of the article.
The points made were valid and the writer was simply giving his or her honest opinion. Given the comparatively low number of signatures that the petition has attracted quite a large number of others may share his or her opinion. It does seem the petition may turn out to be more of a waste of time than time well spent, at least from the singular point of view of gaining 100,000 signatures.
The good news is, those that signed the petition haven't invested more than 3-4 minutes in the effort so that wasn't really too onerous regardless of how things turn out. Drafting the petition, uploading it and trying to promote it has indeed required a lot of time but on behalf of those who have put a lot of effort into that, I doubt if any of us consider it a big waste of time.
Just about every reason for why the petition was likely a waste of time discussed by the anonymous writer may be true. I'm willing to give the administration the benefit of the doubt and say that the "We the People" website was probably established for the purpose claimed when the idea was conceived. I'm even willing to believe it was a serious effort to give people a platform by which to raise serious issues of concern.
The administration isn't really to blame for the simple-minded folk so obviously starved for attention that they decided to use the site to post jokes like building Death Stars and requests to deport an immature and likely emotionally troubled teenage pop star whose meteoric rise to fame and fortune has long since outstripped his adolescent coping skills.
On the other hand, the administration can be faulted for allowing the site to become the butt of those jokes. Perhaps their stance is simply if the people aren't going to take it seriously why should they. Giving credit where credit is due, someone really did come up with a very clever response to the Death Star petition and I'm sure every taxpayer was just as pleased as I that someone drawing a salary paid for with our tax dollars wasted a significant amount of time crafting such an entertaining official response to the joke. Both that petition and the response contributed to destroying a lot of the credibility the site may have had. The Bieber petition then obliterated what little credibility it had left. But in fairness, that petition was posted after ours.
It is also true that the administration has "cherry-picked" from among petitions that have received the requisite number of signatures just as the anonymous YNA guest blogger suggested. That really shouldn't surprise anyone since that is what politicians do. They aren't likely to take up an issue that isn't going to give them favorable press or political benefit. In this day and age, politicians aren't looking out for you and me. They are looking out for themselves. That is just one of the hard facts of life that only the most naive fail to grasp.
Yet again the anonymous author was point on in suggesting that even if our petition did get 100,000 signatures there was definitely no guarantee it would get any response at all much less a favorable one. But had that been the case, that might have opened up some other avenues that might be exploited that remain closed unless the petition did reach the threshold and was ignored. Of course, it is beginning to appear that we will never know since evidently too many naturists and nudists decided from the outset that the petition was a big waste of time and didn't squander 3-4 minutes to sign it and didn't ask others to do so.
The only point the anonymous author got wrong was suggesting that if the petition was successful and designated clothing optional areas were established that it might be something like "a five-foot square that is hundreds of yards from any trail, swimming hole, or major park area."
Anyone who hasn't taken time to read "One federal agency's common sense approach to clothing optional recreation" can learn about how the Bureau of Land Management's California Desert District did a fabulous job of accommodating clothing optional recreation and the policy is in writing. In that BLM district public nudity is only prohibited at locations where large numbers of clothed users who might be offended by nudity usually congregate such as visitor's centers and improved campgrounds. That is more than reasonable since it gives clothing optional recreation enthusiasts about 10.7 million acres of options, not a five-foot square area.
The petition was uploaded with every hope that the petition would receive the necessary number of signatures to require an official response. But of course all the things the anonymous blogger mentioned were all given serious consideration before the petition was uploaded. Given the circumstances enumerated, only a naive person would have uploaded a petition like ours expecting the perfect outcome. Now that we have a firm grasp of the obvious, there were other reasons for the petition effort beyond simply the expectation of getting 100,000 signatures and a hope and a prayer that it might get a favorable response from policy makers.
One purpose was to see whether it was possible to engage and energize a significant number of people within the naturist/nudist community to the extent that they would respond to a call to action that required a very low-level commitment of 3-4 minutes to sign a petition.
It would appear, two weeks into the petition initiative that simply based on the number of signatures as a percentage of the known current combined memberships of the two national naturist and nudist organizations alone, the answer is no. But the petition initiative has still been time well spent.
Enough people I think have shown themselves willing to engage and to actually put some effort into an attempt to advance naturism. Realistically it seems there are enough of them to form a core group from which to build a base of support for a movement.
Fact is nudism came to this country nearly 85 years ago. Yet it is still far from gaining mainstream acceptance or tolerance among larger society so evidently the strategies aimed at achieving that have been largely ineffective. It seems that it is time to take a different tack. A new strategy, something with a more aggressive tone is needed and it takes a movement to implement that.
The pioneers of the movement were by definition activists who faced much more determined opposition than our community faces today. They weren't afraid of either controversy or confrontation. The first clubs were raided by police and people went to jail. As recently as 1959 the Texas legislature was seeking a way to enact constitutional legislation to close what were then known as "nudist camps" in the state so activism was still alive and well then since it didn't happen.
Free beaches would never have come into being had it not been for naturist activists like Lee Braxandall, founder of The Naturist Society. Those who led the way had no choice but to endure some ridicule and they scratched and clawed to gain every advantage our community has since enjoyed. But somehow, somewhere along the way, many of us as individuals have gotten away from activism. That's why clothing optional beaches are disappearing one by one.
We need to return to our beginnings. We need more grassroots involvement. The time is past for indulging in the luxury of anonymity. People will have to stand up and be counted. Secret nudists and naturists aren't going to be very useful in the kind of movement it will take to get us where we need to go.
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