Bare Claus

A large gathering of naked Santa Clauses caused nobody in San Francisco to do a double take.

Immune residents are to the chaos that is San Francisco. From the moment gold was discovered in California and a mob of disreputable drifters, brewers and prostitutes landed here, San Francisco has been uniquely American, Un-American and more than a bit unsavory. Public nudity is not only permitted here, but often encouraged, promoted, organized, staged and rewarded with performing arts grants. An annual athletic event where people streak from San Francisco bay to the ocean is now largely occupied by streakers (can we really call them “streakers” when they sashay the entire race course).

Anything resembling innocence in San Francisco is left in the maternity ward.

In a recurring desire to present as much flesh as possible, a group of civic minded San Franciscans decided to corrupt the icon of Christmas, namely Santa Clause (Christ is not a large factor in San Francisco’s Christmas, and is rapidly fading across the country, deferring instead to the symbol of commercial consumption. As the master Tom Lehrer said in song “Oh bless ye merry merchants, may ye make the yuletide pay.”) Corrupting the sanctity of Santa, the patron saint of greedy children, with public disrobing is entirely rational in Baghdad by the Bay.

Hence, last Saturday a minor mob attempted to establish a Guinness world record for the largest gathering of naked Santa Clauses. Holding such an event in frigid San Francisco … in December … caused many participants to come up short.

Being naked (and preferably inebriated) is part of The City’s essence. The fact that San Francisco started life as a wide open town populated by people who were often drunk and nude was the origin of our famed tolerance, which is not extended to conservatives, Republicans, Christian youth gatherings, non-marijuana smokers or people who fail to compost. Hence San Francisco has never actually outlawed public nudity, even though nearly every city, town, burg and unincorporated area outside of the Bay Area does. Nudity here is considered a birthright long after birth.

The only complaint ever uttered when encountering naked bodies in San Francisco is if they are of sufficient aesthetic quality to be presented.

Open air al natural is one glimpse into the generalized essence of America’s twisted sister. Molded by people who enjoy being different has brought any number of non-conformists to The City. Given the early and enduring need to adapt to your neighbor’s unconventional behavior has taught San Franciscans to put up with every aberrant act. Reciprocation is the grand compromise. In order to enjoy your particular perversions, you must never raise objections to other people’s peccadilloes.

This absence of mutual self-restraint has caused public nudity to be the least of San Francisco’s flaunted fetishes.

Folks far away denounce The City for what it has always been. But America should embrace San Francisco as they would any peculiar cousin. Loath The City’s activities if your moral altitude requires, but honor the essence that preserves freedom. Losing our oddball relative would mean losing your ability to appreciate the freedom of unconventionality, and that erodes freedom in general.


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