David Lauderdale

Baring witness to the beauty of nudist-free beaches

Stock illustration

Fresh off a week at Myrtle Beach, I find the local news appalling.

Someone is petitioning for a "clothing optional" stretch of beach at Tybee Island, Ga., near Savannah.

At the same time, an identical petition on the Change.org website is seeking a 1-mile stretch of nude beach at Jacksonville, Fla.

The naked truth is that the world cannot stomach public nude beaches.

It would be a crime against nature.

Have these people not looked in a mirror?

Maybe they have walked through a house of mirrors, like the one we enjoyed as kids at the Myrtle Beach Pavilion. Those mirrors showed distorted bodies -- much like the ones I saw flopped up and down the beach last week as a banner flying from an airplane advertised a 170-item all-you-can-eat buffet.

No, people don't need to be petitioning for a nude beach. They need to be begging permission to be seen in public in a bathing suit.

More than 2,000 people have clicked their support for the petition in Jacksonville and more than 700 on Tybee. I didn't know that many sixth-grade boys were plugged into Change.org.

But news stories from Tybee and Jacksonville indicate the nude beach requests would quickly sink if they ever came before City Council.

The petitions are cloaked in innocence.

"The practice of nudism is purposely nonsexual," they say. "It serves as a personal comfort and a stronger sense of freedom. There is the belief that nudism helps with self-esteem, relaxation, and overall well-being."

I agree with the tack of Beaufort County's late and lamented high sheriff J. Edwin McTeer when he dealt with a nudist colony on Cat Island in the 1930s.

When the Sea Island Sanctuary set up its naturists' Utopia on the 400-acre island near Beaufort, dozens of back-to-the-land colonists sought healthy lives, plowing in the buff to reap fruits and vegetables.

Rumors swirled that people would be shopping naked on Bay Street. And suddenly, the only place fish were biting was Cat Island Creek.

But the sheriff lay low. When The State newspaper in Columbia reported on the "sylvan sanctuary," showing photographs of naked men and women playing baseball and socializing, the governor demanded action.

Some constables were sent to snoop around, but ran when the nudists ran toward them at the dock shouting, "Aloha!"

Sheriff McTeer said, "There is such a thing as personal liberty in this country. If the governor of South Carolina wanted to go nude about the governor's mansion, whose business would it be but his own as long as he did it in private?

"As long as the nudists do not inflict their nakedness on the citizens of Beaufort County, I will take no action."

Sheriff McTeer, in effect, deputized the no-see-ums, mosquitoes and chiggers to do the governor's bidding.

And he set a proper standard for the folks of Tybee Island and Jacksonville:

Don't let nudists inflict their nakedness on citizens enjoying a public beach.

Follow columnist David Lauderdale at twitter.com/ThatsLauderdale.

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