Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Perils of Patience

The Bare Platypus has worked on behalf of nudity for a very long time. 

Early on (almost 20 years ago now), he will admit that he couldn't understand "radical" nude activists. You know, the ones who stage nude protests, get arrested, and bring lawsuits.  The Platypus philosophy then was, "why not work within the system?"  So he put his webbed feet to work on things like beach cleanup volunteer projects and raising money to donate to the state and federal park services during photo op presentations using big cardboard checks... stuff like that.  The Platypus pulled a suit and tie over his fur and sat down to meet with  officials very businesslike. He trotted out to state capitols too.

"You'll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar," the Platypus thought to himself in silent scorn of the more rebellious tactics that only seemed to give nudists a bad name.

After 20 years, he's not so sure anymore.  Because after 20 years of advocacy with a web footed handshake, not much has seemed to change for the better. 

Cape Cod National Seashore staff will smile as the fully dressed nudist volunteer in their volunteer tshirt fills bag after bag with trash that some clothed visitor probably left. But they adamantly refuse to rescind their rule against nudity on the beach or to help with getting it changed. (Admittedly, relations with staff have improved due to the tireless efforts of some very hard working volunteers.  It's just that we may be approaching diminishing returns.  How much can you do for someone who has so little interest in helping you work through the process?)

Now Fire Island Seashore and Mazo Beach in Wisconsin are facing nude closures (Fire Island) and closure during the week (Mazo).  The Platypus knows there were substantial on-the-ground efforts in those places to keep good relations. How much good did it do?  No doubt it did some good. And to the degree it didn't work, it's not for lack of effort.  It's just that it's also true that many park staff will probably never work with nudists until forced to do so.

To many in government, we can only lament "you've had your chance."  You have often demonstrated that you reward civil behavior with less and less civility.  The Platypus is too old to get himself arrested, but sooner or later it may sink in with other folks that working within the system often doesn't work.  That frustration is going to have consequences.