Whilst on Rincon beach (Bates) in September, I was cited by officer W.A. Johnson for public nudity. Though found not guilty because I was covered, I have already been punished by having to attend court for two mornings, travel for four hours and waste eight gallons of gas, and spend another day preparing for my case, not to mention the stigma associated. You are not innocent until proven guilty: Your money is taken immediately, and you are made to wait hours while the court hears dozens of guilty pleas. Even though public nudity is an infraction, you are forced to appear–whereas those cited for traffic infractions, which in my opinion are more serious, can plead by mail. Go figure.
Unfortunately, the judge felt it incumbent upon himself to comment that were he the officer, he would probably have given me a ticket also. In effect, he agreed that everyone choosing to change on the beach rather than walk the considerable distance to the bathrooms in order to change, and all those surfers changing in the parking lot behind towels, are now guilty of public nudity! Having two armed young officers approach you on the beach and force you, like I was forced to put on my wet trunks even though I was covered, in this country is unacceptable. I was also given a dog-off-leash warning, unheard of at Bates.
At my trial, the officer admitted that they were watching me through glasses behind bushes up on the cliff but saw no illegal body parts. What country is this? I am concerned about what I see as the erosion of our rights, if this is indeed the new direction being taken. We all need to watch the home front while our troops fight the Taliban so that they can come home to the reasonability in our dress codes we all expect here.-J.W. [name withheld as requested to protect letter-writer’s job.]