Friday, September 16, 2005


Free Steve Gough!

One of those odd, persistent news stories that say more about life in modern Britain than a thousand government surveys, is the movements of the 'naked rambler' Steve Gough. For those who don't know the story, two years ago, Steve decided to walk from Lands End to John O'Groats nude. It took him around nine months, mostly owing to the fact that he kept being thrown in jail along the way.

Steve, undeterred, decided to do it again this year, and persuaded two other companions (one male, one female) to join him. I believe the other bloke may have dropped out, but I'm not sure. Anyway, Steve is facing the same persecution this time as he did previously. Most recently, he has been jailed for two weeks in Midlothian.

I have a real problem with this. First of all, I don't believe for a minute that Gough is causing harm to anybody, and what he's doing is both amusing and meaningful. He expresses the purpose of his journey lucidly, and I personally view his actions as wholly positive.

According to the Melonfarmers;

'The 46-year-old, from Bournemouth, was naked in the dock as he was sentenced at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. He was convicted of exposing himself, causing fear and alarm and distracting drivers on the A701 on 1 September. . .'

' . . . At a previous hearing his female companion, 34-year-old Melanie Roberts from Bournemouth, admitted a reduced breach of the peace charge. Sentence was deferred on the hairdresser, who wore a T-shirt and jeans in the dock.'

'During Gough's trial, 21-year-old postman William Lister said he had been "pretty alarmed and shocked" when he saw the couple walking naked apart from their socks and boots. One police officer told the court that the couple's actions had been "totally inappropriate". Another said that he found nudity "distasteful".'

A couple of points:

1) Is 'distracting drivers on the A701' a criminal offence? Of course it isn't. Causing 'fear and alarm?' Who on earth is afraid of someone just because they aren't wearing anything? The quotes from the police oficers sound somewhat more reasonable - you could argue about the taste of the matter. Fear, no.

2) What kind of twenty-one year old complains to the Police about that sort of thing? At that age, you really should be able to see the humour in the situation.

My real point is this - tomorrow, I move house. Owing to my distinct lack of wealth, I'm moving into a house that has been burgled twice in the last year. It will almost certainly be burgled in the next few months. I would far, far rather the British police spent less time on pointless things, such as stopping drivers going three miles an hour over the speed limit, or worry about buying wristbands in empty gestures to communities who could do with police protection, not empathy, or harassing naked ramblers, and actually spent time and manpower protecting the property of those of us unfortunate enough to live in very high crime areas. My house is more important than Steve Gough's penis, and that's that.

To be fair to the Police, these decisions are never made by officers on the beat, only by mandarin-like Chief Constables and their political overlords. Also to be fair, they aren't alone in this, as this report from Minneapolis shows. Stopping gangs from terrorising the streets, or pulling female skinny-dippers from the lake - what's more important? I know - do they?

Ramble on!

The only point i have to make on this issue is that i don't really care what Steve Gough does naked or otherwise. However it seems glaringly obvious to anyone with half a brain that this idiot does this in order to create a furore and is only out to get attention. Surely ignoring his pathetic attempts to gain personal notoriety would be more successful at stopping him than slinging him in jail. "don't poke/feed (can't remember!) the troll" as my good friend says!!
Egads, those straps must chaffe!(sp)

Here in the US, he'd be picked up for "indecent exposure." There are laws governing how much of your genitals and mammaries may be exposed in a public place. I'd be more concerned on sanitary grounds than anything else. (would you want to be behind this fellow in line at cafeteria or buffet?)

But, as with everything else these days, sexuality is considered far more offensive than just about anything else short of murder.
Your house may well be more important than Steve Gough's penis, but I doubt it gets as many column inches. Good luck with the move.
Happyviolet -

Attebtion-seeking is, of course, the whole point of his journey. It is a political protest, albeit a rather silly one. Still, if you did want to stop him, ignoring him would certainly be the best option. 'Don't poke the troll', indeed!

SafeT -

We too have laws that restrictive, but nothing compares to a modern Hollywood contract. If an actor or aactress does a nude scene, the average contract will cover not just how much is shown, but the lighting it's under, the angle it's taken, the duration of exposure, and on and on and on . . . Oh, for the good old days of no-holds-barred exploitation.

Hungbunny -

If only it did! Thabks very much mate.
I actually don't think it is a political protest at all. I don't think he gives a shit about the rights of nudists... he obviously likes showing his cock but, crucially (!) he likes the attention he gains by doing so.
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