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True colors may be exposed on nudity issues

Talk about putting the cart before the horse?In Whitingham recently, selectboard members have heard from the same contingent who succeeded in getting an anti-nudity ordinance passed in Wilmington last month. But they certainly didn?t do themselves any favors with those who were willing to give them their argument the benefit of the doubt, even whilst suspecting ulterior motives.

What (at least many) of the anti-nudists have argued is that the problem isn?t so much the nudity as the infringement upon their rights to enjoy the lake without being subjected to nudity. That seems fair. If you don?t want to look at exposed penises or breasts that should probably be your choice. But that argument starts to ring a little hollow when you think about the fact that these same folks are now carrying their crusade to Whitingham, a town which doesn?t have any heretofore reported nudity problems, which doesn?t have a nude beach, and where very few of those complaining even live. It?s interesting to note that one of the women who has been active in campaigning against the nude beach pointed out, as evidence of the impending problem in Whitingham, that a couple put their canoe in the water and found ?their own private site for nude sunbathing.? Well isn?t that exactly what those complaining want? For the nudists to find and stay at, a private site where they aren?t subjecting others to their preferred recreational pursuits?

Unfortunately, it seems that somewhere along the line the argument twisted away from one of individual rights (to enjoy the beach clothed or unclothed, whichever you prefer) and has now been bastardized into something much different and frankly, much more sinister. Apparently it includes branding an entire group of people, which sometimes numbers in the thousands according to the complainants themselves, as perverts, pedophiles or worse. This scare tactic is unfortunate, and only serves to cheapen any legitimate argument that may be made about the rights of non-nudists to be insulated from the practice. You may not feel comfortable walking through a crowd of naked people, but you could hardly characterize each and every one of them as lacking a solid moral foundation simply because they enjoy recreating in the buff.

We thought it an issue worthy of addressing when property owners and other lake users said their rights to enjoy the reservoir, or even their own land, were being infringed upon by naturists who wouldn?t respect the traditional boundaries of the Ledges. We even thought action on the issue by the town might be called for. It?s unfortunate that the most draconian of measures was undertaken, although in Wilmington?s defense, there weren?t a whole lot of other options offered. But now the true colors of these complainants are being revealed, and unfortunately, it appears that the legitimate reasons they presented for wanting the public nudity issue addressed might be a front for their real goal of imposing their own morality on everyone else.

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