Knock me down with a feather: I agree with Andrew Geddis

The Herald on Sunday has been running a smear job on a judge who likes to get his kit off in private.

They are too gutless to name the judge, or to show the photos, which says a lot about their courage in running the story.

Andrew Geddis (See, I can say your name. Have a go at saying mine.) has commented on the issue, and I agree with him.

A simple message to the Herald on Sunday – there is nothing wrong with being naked. Even if you are a Judge.

The Herald on Sunday is running a “shock! horror!” series of stories about a District Court Judge who happens to be a member of a naturist (“nudist”) club in Canterbury and had some naked photos of himself posted on the club website.

A few things to note about this “story” before we go on. First, the photos were used by the club without the judge’s express permission (although apparently the club’s membership form includes a generic permission to use photos of members for its purposes). So it’s not as if the judge in question sought to somehow set out to exhibit himself to the entire world. ?

Second, the photos were on the club’s “photo gallery” page, which requires a viewer to click-through from its home page to view. Claims that they were somehow used to “publicise” the club are thus a bit of an exaggeration.

And finally, the?HoS?tells us that they showed the judge “posing on a grass lawn” and “playing petanque”. When you realise that “posing” means “standing with some others”, there is no suggestion that they depict disreputable or questionable behaviour. Indeed, they show what late-middle aged people do with their friends all over the country … just that this individual prefers to do it without clothes on.

Nevertheless, the?HoS “broke” this story in last week’s edition, then this week had a follow-up article reporting that “a judicial watchdog is investigating a complaint about the conduct of a judge whose naked photographs were used online to promote a nudist camp.” Which means, I think, that it’s time to put a stake through this particular “story’s” heart.

(I’m not linking to the?HoS?articles because giving the website clicks would be positively reward some pretty average journalism, imnsho. If you really want to view the source material, you’ll have to dig it out for yourself.)

Because there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a naturist, or a member of a club of naturists. Nothing. At. All. Even if you are a judge.

Nothing wrong at all with it. It is private land, and he is a private man doing private things. The prurient panty-sniffers at the Herald on Sunday need to get a life.

Simply being naked around other people (including children) in a non-public place (like the Pineglades Naturist Club) is not against the law. Indeed, being naked around other people in a public place is not necessarily illegal, but is a more complex question (particularly when children are involved).

Nor is there anything immoral or disreputable about naturism as a lifestyle choice. Here’s how the club in question describes it. And as Helen Mirren puts it:

?I?m a naturist at heart. I love being on beaches where everyone is naked. Ugly people, beautiful people, old people, whatever. It?s so unisexual and so liberating.?

Is anyone going to seriously argue that Helen Mirren is wrong or morally dubious in her views? Helen Mirren? I didn’t think so!

Indeed, we positively celebrate forms of naturism in our general culture. The “nude blacks” regularly play “tests” against visiting teams before the real thing kicks off at Dunedin’s moneysink. Thousands of people watch them do so. And we all think it is a fine old jape.

So who on earth could have a problem with a judge wanting to join with others who prefer not to wear clothes, even if the club then chooses (without his express knowledge or agreement) to put up photos of him doing so in a section of its website where the public might (if they really go digging) see them? Who would, according to the HoS, think this behaviour so terrible that she or he complains to the Judicial Conduct Commissioner about the judge “adversely affecting the standing of the judiciary and undermining public confidence ‘especially in the hearing of sex crimes, public indecency cases and the exposure of minors to pornography’.”?

It is a ridiculous smear job on a judge who simply likes getting his kit off in private.

Who hasn’t gone skinny dipping? There is something liberating about getting your kit off and letting it all hang out once in a while…in private.

It’s a pretty sad state when this is the lead item for a shabby little rag on Sunday.


– Pundit