Prager on public nudity
Dennis Prager at NRO is worried about nudity.
As I’m neither Jewish nor Christian, I don’t feel comfortable arguing on “Judeo-Christian” grounds that Prager is getting his own religion wrong. I’ll leave that to the leftists and the nudists who also claim Christianity. But like Prager, I think a lot about naked people, and our relationship to the rest of the natural world, and his half-assed musings disappointed me.
But one of our human tasks is to elevate ourselves above the animal. And covering our genitals is one important way to do that.
The world of the Left generally finds this animal–human distinction unnecessary. For years now, I have been reading article after article in major liberal newspapers and magazines about how much more alike humans and animals are than we ever thought. The theme of these articles is how narrow the differences really are between humans and animals.
Public nudity certainly forwards that theme.
Major newspapers and magazines write about how similar we are to other animals because in many surprising ways, we are similar to them, and many readers find joy in learning about our kinship with them. It’s interesting to me, though, how Prager is so defensive about it. The argument that we must separate ourselves from animals by law is ridiculous not because we’re the same but because the relevant differences in abstract thought are so perfectly clear. Nobody, not even the most radical of animal rights activist, suggests we prosecute lions for murder, even though we agree that humans should be. That’s because, as far as anyone can tell, people are uniquely able and thus expected to engage in moral reasoning.
But Prager concedes his point too soon:
And it’s hard to see why a liberal judge would not rule the law unconstitutional. Because the fact is that there is no secular reason to ban public nudity.
C’mon, try harder! Religious-inspired laws without any secular purposes are indeed unconstitutional, and you don’t need to be a liberal to acknowledge the First Amendment. If religion is the only reason to ban public nudity, it should be legal.
Yet nudity laws remain on the books in almost every state. A majority of a board popularly elected by the citizens of San Francisco supports the laws. This suggests there may be good reasons for them (public hygiene, preventing sexual harassment) that aren’t based in a religion of shame. But in an article purporting to explain “Why Public Nudity is Wrong”, Prager just throws a pity-party and then gives up.