GOLIS: Different? You can't mean us

  • Demonstrators gather outside of City Hall in San Francisco for a protest against a proposed city-wide nudity ban, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. San Francisco appears poised to shed part of its image as a city where anything goes, including clothing. The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote next week on a law that would ban public nudity. The proposal comes in response to a devoted group of nudists who proudly strut their stuff through the city's Castro District. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

I drove through San Francisco last week and saw absolutely no one in a state of undress. It may be that folks otherwise tempted to disrobe anticipated the next day's headline in The Press Democrat.

"Bare majority for nudity ban," it said. (At times like this, newspaper editors can't help themselves.)

The story recounted how a San Francisco supervisor named Scott Wiener convinced his colleagues on the Board of Supervisors to support an ordinance banning public nudity.

The 6-5 vote responded to what the New York Times described as the city's "habitual nudists."

The Times, which reports only the most important news, explained: "The vote means that there will be no more lounging nude in the city's plazas, parading up and down city streets sans pants, or riding subways and buses bare-bottomed."

Somewhere in New Jersey, a Little Old Lady is imagining a city of naked people here, there and everywhere.

During the (very) public hearing, the Times reported, one dissident removed his clothes and shouted, "Recall Wiener! Wiener is a Republican!"

This story, of course, arrives ready-made for "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and for almost anyone eager to believe that people in California are different from the residents of other states. This means almost anyone living east of Lake Tahoe.

To be honest, it's difficult to argue that we aren't different in this case. I'm guessing folks in Pascagoula, Miss., or Topeka, Kan., won't be debating anytime soon whether nudity is protected by the First Amendment.

But, in California, we're happy to oblige. We pass measures to outlaw traffic roundabouts. (Good morning, Cotati.) We debate ordinances to ban public WiFi. (Hello, Sebastopol.) We create nuclear-free zones. (Ditto.) We argue over prohibitions again chain outlets. (Hello, Sonoma.)

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