(Update and Side-note: I noted in 2007 that there appeared to be a decline in nudity between 2006 and 2007. It can have many explanations. This is a trend that I continue to observe even through the 2009 Burning Man.)
So how do people act when they are celebrating radical self-expression? How much damage is done in a festival that aims to burn stuff? How wild to people get when there is nudity around every corner? From Wired:
The crowd for the weeklong celebration peaked Saturday at a record 49,599, up from 47,097 last year.Those are really low numbers for arrests and citations, considering the number of people and the number of days. For being such a wild theme, people are very well behaved. Some even bring kids.
U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials said the festival ran smoothly and no major problems were reported. They made 11 arrests and issued 175 citations to participants, most for drug violations, BLM officials said.
In almost any other city in the US, arrests and citations would've been made for the nudity. If some old stats I found are still true, another 2480 people (5%) would've been arrested/cited and lives ruined by the sex offender registry. But, they weren't. Apparently the rule is that if 5% of the population or more goes nude, it's ok.
On a bigger scale, the US population is 305,986,357, of which an estimated 20,000,000 go nude socially. That works out to be 6.5% of the population, and more if you include non-social nudists. Yet somehow, it's NOT ok.
I like Nudiarist's stat: "It's safe to say that at least 99% of the crimes in America are committed by people wearing clothes." It would be interesting to see if any of the arrests/citations at Burning Man were of nudists, because chances are that they weren't.
All-in-all, I'm wondering how nudity is ok in Black Rock City and not ok in most other cities.