COURT HEARING PART 1:
WATCH JUDGE CHEN GRILL CITY ATTORNEY ABOUT LACK OF EXEMPTION FOR POLITICAL SPEECH (it starts at the end of part 1 and continues into part 2). Tara Steely says that if there were such an exemption it would “swallow the rule”. In my opinion it shows that the ordinance itself is unconstitutional.
COURT HEARING PART 2:
FIRST FEDERAL COURT HEARING OF THE NUDIST CLASS ACTOIN LAWSUIT ON JANUARY 17, 2013
By Gypsy Taub
In October of 2012 Supervisor Scott Wiener introduced legislation that would criminalize public nudity in San Francisco. On November 14th body freedom activists Mithch Hightower, Gypsy Taub, George Davis and Rusty Mills filed a class action lawsuit against the City of San Francisco for 1st and 14th Amendment rights violations. Led by attorney Christina DiEdoardo, a group of a few dozen nudists and supporters marched to the Federal building (mostly naked) and filed the lawsuit.
On January 17 the first hearing took place with Federal Judge Edward Chen. The nudists want the Judge to issue a preliminary injunction that would stop the nudity ban from being enforced until he is done hearing their case and making his decision. The City of San Francisco –well, not really the city but the bureaucrats that call themselves the city government – are asking the Judge to dismiss the case.
We held a protest against the nudity ban outside of the Federal Building before and after the hearing. There were a lot of news reporters, I would say at least 3 dozen.
There were at least a dozen protesters in various stages of undress, at least half of us were naked or almost naked. It was cold so at one point I had to cover my back with my jacket, and some others were partially covered because of the cold.
It really felt more like a press conference than a regular protest. It was great to see the familiar faces of the news reporters and the new faces too. It felt like a big party. There was a lot of excitement and good energy being exchanged. I myself had never had so many mics and cameras pointed at me at once. It was fun. Most questions asked of me were about nudity being political expression.
I made a speech about free speech and what it means to me having been raised in communist Russia without it. Natty Delphine and Danny Devero from Europe – who had just returned from Mexico to participate in body freedom activism – sang a song. Danny was wearing a dress and kept showing off his butt. Natty was dressed in a semi-transparent red burka. Even though Natty is from Germany she has a very Middle Eastern look and gorgeous eyes. She looked perfect in her burka. She was holding a sign that said: “Love or Fear”.
Denise who hosts a live TV show called “Liberal Buzz” on local public access station made a short speech where she said that Scott Wiener as well as the other 5 Supervisors who voted in favor of the nudity ban are not moderate democrats but republicans, and that they should reregister as such. Denise is a hard core activist and has worked with a number of progressive Supervisors on their campaigns.
After the protest was finished we went to the hearing.
Our lawyer Christina DiEdoardo – whom I got to love dearly – said she liked Judge Chen and that he had a good track record. Based on her opinion, I was expecting Judge Chen to be cool. But I have to admit that I liked him even better when I saw him in the court room.
I always pay close attention to people’s energy. Judge Chen has very beautiful and very powerful energy. He has a radiant smile – kind of a humble, reserved smile, but non-the-less radiant and very warm. I don’t know how he will rule on our case but I can’t lie about how I felt. I felt great. He made me feel happy – just his presence alone was healing and hope-giving.
He listened to the arguments that Christina put forth. She was comparing being nude in a nudity-hostile environment to burning the American flag and saying that it was apolitical statement. The judge said he didn’t feel that was the case. He said that a nude person is not necessarily making a political statement, she/he could just be sunbathing.
If you ask me personally, I agree with Christina 100%. Taking your clothes off in our society is no different from a Middle Eastern woman uncovering her face in a town where women are expected to cover up their faces. You could say that she might just be sunbathing or what not – and that may be the case sometimes – but really, it’s a political statement more than anything. So is nudity in a prudish society like ours. In a free society it wouldn’t be a political statement – but we are still very far from that kind of freedom.
The Deputy City Attorney Tara Steely was a total bimbo in a suit, I am sorry to say. No one is born stupid but some people choose to make a career out of stupidity. She was a screaming case of that. I was very surprised that the gangsters who are running that branch of the government couldn’t have found an attorney who at least sounds less stupid. I think they picked her based on psychology books that advise that in court blond women get ruled in favor of more often than brunettes. I have read a whole article about how to dress and look in court and what statistics show – it was about making a good impression on the judge through manipulative means such as appearance, facial expressions, voice intonations and such. It seemed like she was trained by that manual word to word. Her fake sweet voice, her fake smile, her blond hair, her shapely figure – I swear they picked her based on her looks and her acting skills. They were hoping for a stupid judge, but they miscalculated.
Ms Steely spent about half of her time talking about how much people in the Castro hate the sight of the nudists, and the other half – about how nudists cause car accidents because people stare at them so hard. Do you see a contradiction here or am I tripping? If Castro residents and visitors hate looking at us naked then why are they staring so hard? Boy, speaking of perversions! Now that’s truly perverted – staring at someone you hate to look at.
But since Judge Chen is not stupid and since it wasn’t his first time to see a cute looking blond – he didn’t lose his common sense. He asked Steely if she had any facts to support her claims about car accidents. She said she didn’t but that it was irrelevant. She said the city didn’t need to wait for an accident to happen, that their goal was to prevent it.
Going by her argument we should prohibit pretty women from walking the streets – who hasn’t heard cars honk at a pretty woman? I wonder if Ms Steely is, perhaps, from another country or another planet, rather. Has she not seen bright colored bill boards that are placed – would you believe it? – right there along the highways – and are specifically designed to distract drivers? My favorite ones are the ones that light up at night and show you animated commercials. Ms Steely needs to criminalize Coca Cola first.. .But, oh, wait, Coca Cola owns politicians, so never mind…Coca Cola is also famous for murdering union activists. – Sorry, I forgot I was supposed to focus on the nudity ban – don’t get me going!
Another claim that Ms Steely made was that 85% of Castro business owners reported that their business was suffering from public nudity.
I personally remember how Urban Nudists were trying to make Castro into the first clothing-optional neighborhood in the city a couple years back. I remember hearing that all but very few (like about 2) businesses were supportive of their idea. Where did that 85% number come from? I have been told by an activist that Scott Wiener held a meeting for Castro merchants. Out of about 200 members about 30 showed up. The goal of that meeting was to badmouth nudists, so most merchants didn’t bother to show, and a few of them walked out of the meeting. Out of the remaining merchants supposedly 85% were against the nudists – but can we believe Scott Wiener that even that was true? I personally wouldn’t. And in any event, that kind of a scenario definitely doesn’t reflect the opinions of 85% of Castro merchants. That looks more like about 11%. I wasn’t present at that merchant meeting and can’t claim the accuracy of the numbers given to me. But I can tell you one thing for sure – that number (85%) was pulled out of someone’s ass (Wiener’s most likely). There were no polls conducted, no legitimate research was done.
Nudists have actually become a tourist attraction. Tourists love to take photos of the nudists as well as with the nudists. According to George Davis commercial rent prices are at a record high. So you really can’t say that nudists are destroying business in the Castro.
I wish I could point out at least one legitimate thing that Ms Steely said. But unfortunately, everything that came out of her mouth was either an outrageous lie or a ridiculous rationalization based on total ignorance and total disregard of the progress made by humanity in the past 500 years.
Our lawyer Christina DiEdoardo made a number of very good statements. One of my favorite ones was when she talked about protecting the public. She said that laws against smoking made sense because scientific studies clearly show that second hand smoke causes cancer. In contrast, “there is no scientific research that shows that leaving nudists alone will cause cancer or any disease.” – she said.
Even though the Judge is not convinced that nudity by itself constitutes political speech, he did corner the Deputy City Attorney Tara Steely when he asked her what would happen if a nude person were to hold a political sign. After beating around the bush for a few minutes she had to admit that the nude protester would get prosecuted. Steely said that if exemptions were made for political speech it would defeat the whole legislation. Doesn’t this make it clear that this legislation is incompatible with the US Constitution?
Judge Chen also expressed a notion that individual rights are more important than the opinion of the crowd.
Steely also claimed that another danger to the public is residents having to create human barricades to shield the children from the view of naked bodies. It appears as though Ms Steely has never been to Castro and is hoping that the Judge hasn’t either.
By far the best news report about the court hearing that I have seen in the media came from Oregon Herald, a non-commercial free daily publication. I guess that explains it: non-commercial (they don’t prostitute themselves to businesses that buys advertising) and free (they don’t prostitute themselves to public opinion either). You can read it here:
Gypsy Taub’s speech at the nudist protest before the Federal Court hearing on January 17, 2013
Dear brothers and sisters, dear body freedom supporters, dear media representatives!
My name is Gypsy Taub.
We are here today to exercise our first Amendment right, our right to free speech.
There are a lot of things wrong with America, way more than most Americans realize. Ranging from environmental devastation to the crimes of the industrial military complex, from foreclosures and evictions orchestrated by the international bankers to the health care crisis, the homeless crisis, the list goes on and on and on.
But there is at least one thing that is right with America. And that is the 1st Amendment right, the right to free speech.
Having been raised in communist Russia where I wasn’t allowed to tell political jokes even to my best friends, I can really appreciate freedom of speech. This is the best thing you have going for you here in America.
As society goes through its ups and downs, as history goes through its lighter and darker times, there is always that flame that should never be allowed to go out – and that is the freedom to think for yourself and the freedom to express yourself. Without that freedom life is not worth living. “Give me liberty or give me death!” – as the famous quote says.
When I was growing up in Russia even just saying the words “freedom of speech” or “freedom of thought” was viewed as betrayal of the communist government and would definitely draw attention of the authorities. My mother taught me those words and told me to keep them a secret. The promise of freedom of speech was what motivated my parents to abandon everything they ever knew and move to the distant mysterious continent called America. They were on fire with a desire to be free. They infected me with that desire and with that passion.
When I was a young girl in Moscow and to this day the words “Svoboda slova” which means “freedom of speech” sounded so sweet to me, so infinitely beautiful, so healing, so hope-giving, so liberating!
Free speech has always been the enemy of tyranny. It poses a direct threat to darkness as it sheds light. Criminal governments can only operate in the dark. No crimes go unchallenged once brought to light.
Without free speech truth is suffocated and darkness reigns. Free speech is as essential to a healthy society as oxygen is to a healthy body. Absence of oxygen leads to the death of the body. Absence of free speech leads to the degradation and destruction of society and most often to deaths of millions of people. Sadly, in human history there is no lack of evidence to supports this fact. Communist Russia, Nazi Germany, the list goes on and on.
Freedom of speech is an aspect of freedom of self-expression, which is just as important. Not only is it important for art and culture, but it is vital for mental and emotional health of humankind. When free self-expression is denied society becomes mentally diseased. The first thing that a therapist does in order to heal a patient is to get them to express their feelings.
Self-expression is the basis of all healing, emotional, mental and even physical because of the mind-body connection. That’s another reason why the 1st Amendment is so important and so necessary for a healthy society.
I also want to add that it is much easier to control and to dominate a fearful and oppressed population than it is to control and dominate a population that is not afraid to express itself and to think for itself.
Is it any wonder that the same government that authorizes environmental destruction, that authorizes big business and developers to come to San Francisco and rape it for whatever value its population has in dollars and cents, is it any wonder that the same government is attacking freedom of self-expression and trying to shred the 1st Amendment?
Infamous Scott Wiener created legislation to destroy our city’s environmental protections, he passed legislation against the homeless people to deprive them of the very few rights that they still had, he voted against giving free muni passes to high school students at a time of economic crisis, he just introduced legislation that will lead to many evictions and another legislation that will allow sweat-shop style apartment complexes to be built to help big developers rape our city. Is it any wonder that the same exact person is now destroying free speech and freedom of self-expression? Put the pieces of the puzzle together and you will see a fascist politician. And I mean it 110%.
The sad part is that Scott Wiener is not alone. We have a number of other corporate puppets/fascist clones in our city government, including Supervisor David Chiu and mayor Ed Lee. It’s a shame that words cannot express that our city government is preoccupied with the destruction of free speech and harassment of nudists – harmless and peaceful individuals – instead of dealing with violent crime, economic crisis and environmental devastation.
Free speech is not something I am willing to surrender to Scott Wiener and Ed Lee. I know what life is like without free speech, and I am not going to let communist Russia happen here in San Francisco.
I know that the people of San Francisco have a lot of dignity and are willing to fight for their civil rights and their freedom of self-expression.
That’s why we are not going away. We filed a class action lawsuit against the city in order to overturn the unconstitutional and undemocratic nudity ban that is being shoved down our throats despite of the outrage of the people of San Francisco.
Scott Wiener and Ed Lee chose the wrong city to fuck with. Furthermore, I am really under the impression that neither of them has read the Constitution. Scott Wiener called our lawsuit a “publicity stunt”. He is clearly a lot more familiar and comfortable with publicity stunts than he is with the Constitution. Ed Lee confuses free speech with exhibitionism.
By the way, exhibitionism is a form of free expression. Have you ever heard of an art exhibition? Should that be banned too? Should we only allow exhibitionism of cars and expensive jewelry and ban any exhibitionism that doesn’t make corporations money? And what about political exhibitionism? Some politicians are about real politics. But most of them are nothing but exhibitionists and dressed up puppets. If exhibitionism became illegal Ed Lee and Scott Wiener should be the first ones to go to jail.
Some people ask: how is it that nudity is a form of self-expression? In a free society nudity is just a natural part of life, but in a society that is in chains of sexual oppression nudity is a political statement and will continue to be such until it is widely accepted as human nature which is all it really is.
If our society was free from body shame nudity would be considered natural and there wouldn’t even be a special word “nudist”. Because nudists are really just ordinary human beings who want to enjoy their bodies through direct contact with nature. We are not some occult group nor some secret society. Neither are we a gang of perverted demented freaks who can’t wait to undress and rape those who are still wearing clothes. There is really nothing special about nudity, there is really nothing to it.
But since we live in a sick society where war is glorified and human body is criminalized, nudity becomes a political statement. It is a direct threat to our world view of separation from nature and from one another. It shakes the very foundation of our social moral structure. It shows us how fake we have become and how separated from who we truly are.
The body freedom movement is a civil rights movement. Like the gay liberation movement, like the women’s rights movement, like the movement for racial equality, this movement looks fragile and vulnerable in its early stage.
It may seem like we will never convince enough people to drop the propaganda and free themselves from body shame. It may seem that society will never accept nudity as a norm.
But this is just the beginning. This movement is growing exponentially. It is spreading like wild fire in our world that is so desperately eager to break free.
Judge weighs legal challenge to San Francisco nudity ban by Oregon Herald
Thursday January 17, 2013 7:56 PM
SAN FRANCISCO – A federal judge weighing a challenge by nudists in famously tolerant San Francisco to a measure aimed at curtailing public nudity questioned on Thursday whether city officials had fashioned the ban too broadly.
U.S. District Judge Edward Chen suggested that the municipal ordinance, which was approved by a slim majority of the Board of Supervisors last month, could infringe upon the constitutional rights of nudists to free expression.
Activists, who sued in November, are seeking an injunction to block the law from taking effect as scheduled at the beginning of February. The city is seeking to have the lawsuit dismissed.
“It could have been more narrowly tailored,” Chen said of the ban during a 90-minute hearing in federal court in San Francisco that was attended by about a half-dozen protesters who disrobed outside the courthouse despite chilly weather.
The judge said he would take the matter under submission and issue a written ruling in the coming weeks.
San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener introduced the ban to curb nudity in public places after residents complained about a daily gathering of naked men in Jane Warner Plaza in the city’s predominantly gay Castro District.
Violators face fines of up to $100 for a first offense and $200 for a second. Three-time offenders would face up to a year in jail and a $500 fine. Nudity would still be allowed at permitted parades, fairs and festivals, as well as on beaches.
“What we’re trying to do is protect the public from the secondary effects of public nudity,” Deputy City Attorney Tara Steeley told the judge during the hearing.
Steeley said the law would protect passersby who would prefer not to see men’s genitals when running errands or taking children to school as well as help neighboring businesses, 85 percent of which have complained that the naked men scare off customers.
But the judge countered: “Don’t we have to be careful in that area? The city couldn’t regulate ethnicity or political activity. Isn’t there a danger in allowing the audience to dictate?”
Christina DiEdoardo, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said that the city had not demonstrated any harm from public nudity.
“Where is a scientific study that says leaving the nudists alone is going to cause cancer in the hearts of San Franciscans?” DiEdoardo asked.
“This is not the same as a law that bans smoking in public. No one I know has ever acquired cancer or any disease from walking down Castro Street and running into nudists,” she said.
Protesters, meanwhile, said they weren’t prepared to abandon their fight no matter what Chen ruled.
“I’m ready to go to the Supreme Court with this,” 43-year-old Gypsy Taub told Reuters. “If that doesn’t work, we’ll come up with creative solutions. We’ll protest. We’ll get arrested until they budge.
“Non-sexual nudity is not a crime,” said Taub, who stripped down to yellow patent-leather boots and a paper hat demanding the recall of Supervisor Wiener.
(Editing by Dan Whitcomb, Cynthia Johnston and Eric Beech)