Wednesday, November 4, 2009

San Onofre: Stakes and Strategy

Leave it to me to chime in a few months late on an issue... I've been seeing a myth perpetuate, so I feel as if I need to speak up about it. It's already been quickly addressed by Nudiarist, but perhaps I can make it more clear. Also, I'll discuss the strategies of both NAC and AANR.

What is the myth? That NAC and the lawsuit lost the legal status of state-owned beaches.

What is the truth? The DPR threw out the Cahill Policy, therefore making nudity illegal on ALL DPR managed public lands prior to the lawsuit.

The DPR chose to ignore the Cahill Policy with regard to San Onofre. At that point, the Cahill Policy was essentially abolished (and nudity illegal) since the DPR could choose to ignore it at any time with any beach. Thus, it no longer existed.

In this context, what exactly was NAC putting at stake in their lawsuit? NOTHING. If they lost, nudity would be illegal. If they didn't file the lawsuit, nudity would be illegal. If AANR kept talking with the DPR, nudity would still be illegal.

It sounds like AANR started this rumor:
According to these sources, other venues where nudity has been traditionally enjoyed may be under threat now that California’s Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued its ruling regarding the Cahill Policy. This situation is, of course, what the American Association for Nude Recreation feared could happen when the Naturist Action Committee filed suit against the California Parks System.

So the DPR closing random beaches and ignoring the Cahill Policy isn't the threat? What, exactly, was AANR fearing? That nudity would continue to be illegal?

It was then perpetuated by Tom:
They put at risk nude sunbathing at ALL beaches in California.

Wasn't it at risk already? More correctly, wasn't it dead?

And also perpetuated by the SCNA, who take it a step further:
Allen says he may consider getting a ticket at San Onofre in the Spring and taking the case up the court system on the nudity issue itself. The trouble with that is if he loses, then ALL the beaches are gone.

Wait -- if it's illegal already, then how exactly is Allen going to make it illegal?

It's court cases like that which made Mazo Beach legal. A person got cited for indecent exposure, and the courts said it's not indecent if it's in a traditional nude sunbathing area. They stated that they will throw out any indecent exposure citation from the traditional beach area. If they can do this in California, that would be great!

Nobody blames the EMT for trying to resuscitate a dead patient, and failing. Why are people blaming NAC for trying to resuscitate the Cahill Policy? Allen simply offers up another try in the future. I hope they keep trying.

I understand AANR's strategy as well. It's not quite as bad as Nudiarist seems to convey. Their strategy can be summarized as follows: Stay out of the spotlight.

The DPR had only one beach in the spotlight. AANR said "OK, but continue to ignore the rest." This could've worked to keep all of the other beaches semi-protected under the Cahill Policy, but that assumes that the DPR would actually do it. Sure, it's a strategy that could've worked for years, until the DPR decides to rock the boat again. Either way, it's the DPR that ultimately chooses the legality of a beach.

From the DPR's perspective, they are responding to reported problems at the beach. It doesn't matter how factual those reports are (as shown by the San Onofre case), they will still respond by doing the easiest thing they can. If it's naked people causing a problem, it's easy to just ignore an informal policy and chase them away. If problems are reported at another beach, it's easy to do the same thing again. There is little reason for the DPR to appease AANR by leaving the other beaches alone when problems are reported.

Society is increasingly against simple nudity. We're in a population explosion, and there is more traffic than ever even in remote areas. We're connected by cell phones, allowing anyone to snap a picture and call the police before even thinking about the situation. Society is becoming more sexualized too, and it's an increasing problem that this sexualization is invading naturist beaches and pressuring them to be an adult-only playground. I expect that reports of lewd conduct are increasing at beaches which lack a method to deal with it. I also expect that they are reported more frequently, since it's so easy with a cell phone and there are more people around that may do it. Lastly, I expect that there are more false alarms, where people complain about activities which really aren't lewd. I doubt that these false alarms are removed from the complaint lists.

The DPR took action from the complaints they have received. They put naturists in a defensive situation by closing San Onofre. This requires a defensive strategy. My favorite analogy is the situation where a bear approaches you in the woods. What do you do?

First is to back away slowly. Both NAC and AANR did this by talking with the DPR. But, the DPR decided to take a chomp at San Onofre.

Then, the strategies diverge. AANR decided to offer up their arm to the bear, in hopes that it satisfies the bear. They assumed that the bear would eat the arm, then spare the rest and maybe make a few promises to avoid humans in the future. Hey, it could work. It's a valid strategy.

More specifically, it's a valid strategy for an offensive situation. For example, if AANR demanded 5 new beaches to be created, and the DPR compromised to only create 3. This compromise would be wonderful! Business in general is offensive (always want to expand, advertise, and gain new markets), which is why businessmen tend to say that compromises must be made to get what you want. The keyword is 'want', indicating it's an offensive strategy. When applying it to the bear scenario, it sounds dumb. Applying an offensive strategy to a defensive situation generally doesn't work.

More realistically, the bear would eat the arm and everything else attached. Then they might consider humans an easy target.

If the bear took a chomp at me, I'd climb the nearest tree and kick it in the face if it tries to follow. I might get eaten, same as the other strategy, but I'm not going to offer up myself, or any part of myself, on a silver platter. This is the strategy that NAC went with -- defend all our limbs at all cost, and show them we're a tough contender.

Yes, they lost. And everyone is saying "I told you so!" What did they lose? NOTHING. Legal nudity at the beach was lost before the lawsuit. Nobody, except AANR, talked about what they might've gained with the actions:
From the day the suit was filed, it was unlikely to accomplish anything more than to delay the Department. Even if successful, the suit would have only required the Department to go through a public hearing process, after which it would not be bound in any fashion to follow any recommendations made through the hearing process, and could have then proceeded to do as it pleased at San Onofre.

A public hearing process? NAC is great at winning those! Especially in California! The NEF/Roper Poll (2006) found that nude beaches have an 84% approval on the west coast. Naturists would've won the public hearing process, and therefore revived the Cahill Policy into an official policy stronger than before. San Onofre would be legal, and other beaches wouldn't be under attack in the near future. Remember that NAC initially won the first court case, so they started off good.

So would you risk nothing for a slim chance to officially legalize the nude beaches? NAC said yes, and AANR said no.

AANR thinks that the lawsuit will make the DPR act quicker to enforce textilism at other beaches. AANR thinks that their strategy would've allowed nude beach use for longer. I don't think the DPR is going to act any faster or slower, since they have the same legal standing from either strategy. If anything, the NAC has shown that naturists will make it as difficult as possible for the DPR bear to eat us.

I should also note that it's a good time for naturists to be kicking at the DPR. California is very poor, and the DPR and law enforcement are strained from budget cuts. Even though the DPR has the legal standing to issue citations for nudity, I don't think they can afford to yet. NAC at least has some time to take further action. They could take further legal action, call on naturists to overwhelm the DPR with letters, sweet talk the DPR into profiting from beach parking, or any number of things. All-in-all, now is the time for change. If we gave up one beach and went stalemate for a couple of years, the DPR would be a stronger force to deal with later. Tom, at least, thinks we should've waited: "NAC sued prematurely and lost the Cahill policy. " (He said this multiple times.) Ummm, wasn't it dead already? Let's start CPR after lunch.

Another strategy deviation to consider is what would've happened if NAC and AANR joined forces. I don't think more money, or more naturists from AANR, would've changed the courts decision that Cahill isn't an official policy. Adding AANR's name to the supreme court request would've given it slightly better chances of being heard, but probably not enough. I don't think AANR could've done much to help, but by joining up in the beginning they would've done less things to hurt. The SCNA explains (and NAC also mentioned):
I know AANR's reps (Debra Sue Stevens, etc.) met with the chief deputy of the Parks Dept when the ban was first proposed and they gave Parks the impression it was ok to close San Onofre. Debra refuses to believe she threw gas on the fire but she did. Well-meaning people who don't know all the facts (Park's statistics about crime and lewd behavior was very incorrect but AANR did not challenge it) need to stay out of this!

How the whole San Onofre thing spun into a call for donations for both AANR and TNS/NAC is beyond me... What exactly has AANR done again? NAC is doing the work, so send all your donations to them.


Brad Fults said...

This is an interesting take on the events at San Onofre. Previously I was looking at the events from a "net effects" perspective, where one only looks at the results of each (AANR, NAC) policy.

But as you pointed out, ceding San Onofre to the DPR already invalidated Cahill for practical purposes, so there wasn't much to lose beyond that.

I would like to see state beaches in California reach a more sensible and stable status, though. Right now it's pretty tenuous, as any director of the DPR can push to "textilize" a beach (or any other personal whim). It should be a decision made by the people, given that we're the ones paying for it after all.

Nudiarist said...

Good summation of the San Onofre situation. You pretty much agree with everything I've been saying over the past several months.

Don't forget the NAC advisory of 6-20-09 which outlines the wrongheadedness of AANR's appeasement strategy

The key to the whole mess is AANR's claim of "victory" by accepting the addition of the word "remote" to the Cahill policy, which really put the nail in the coffin for nude sunbathing in California on state park lands. Not only did the DPR kill Cahill when it banned nudity at San Onofre, it banned in in the future at any location it no longer considered to be "remote."

Perhaps you are right in suggesting that the court outcome might have been no different had AANR joined in the lawsuit. That's what AANR was counting on, a loss for the NAC, so it could claim victory for itself. The sad part is that all nudists and naturists lost at San Onofre, there was no victor, not even the DPR or the people of California who lost the opportunity to raise some badly-needed revenue, not to mention the further erosion of personal freedoms.

Yes, I advocate that all body-freedom conscious people join BOTH AANR AND TNS. Why? Ask the lobbyists on Capitol Hill why they contribute to both Democrats and Republicans, and they will tell you that it's because it buys them a seat at the table with both political parties. You want a better NAC, or a more savvy AANR? Then join and make your voice heard.

Please note that I have not made a contribution to the AANR Government Affairs Team because of what they did at San Onofre, and have never specifically recommended that my readers send money to them. All of my recommendations have been for donations to be sent to the NAC.

But I stand firm with my contention that nudists and naturists should belong to both organizations. It's the only way to really unite the groups. Taking a "fight to the death" stand against either group only further deepens the divide.

John A said...

I'm not seeing how saying "we can't talk about San Onofre because it's in litigation" is the same as saying "we agree that San Onofre should be thrown under the bus and the NAC is nothing but a bunch of trouble makers".

The word "remote" is somewhat troubling but again AANR didn't offer that up. One could argue that they accepted it but at the same time until there is firm official policy DPR will do what they have the will and desire to do at the local level anyway and at least the letter as written (whether you consider it "good will" or "appeasement") would allow the local level to be sympathetic if they wanted to. Now that the repudiation of Cahill has happened at a higher level in the system I'm afraid it will have a stronger negative impact as it trickles down to the local levels.

I also agree with both organizations that this whole debacle can serve as a clarion call for more donations because there is MUCH work to be done if we ever hope to make lemonade from these lemons.

Family Naturism Network said...

Thanks for keeping us updated. California seems to becoming more conservative everyday. I personally prefer clubs to beaches because they provide a spirit of community and amenities but I was introduced to nudism on a beach.

As an AANR member I want to stress that the AANR does not conspire against TNS. From what I have read AANR's decision to drop out of the fight was to avoid the possibility that the issue would result in the loss of every beach for nude use. AANR is limited in its ability to fight these issues and would rather leave it to the more experienced NAC, its not about seeing NAC fail so AANR can claim some kind of victory. Everyone in AANR is disappointed by the loss.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post I think you made some good points. I especially liked the part about naturists contacting the CA Parks Dept and let them know that they are going to be losing lots of naturist dollars if they continue to enforce this policy. I also would point out that the entire premise for the closing of this beach is pure BS the complaints that arose over in appropriate behavior was occuring in the parking lot not the beach so mention that as well.

Rick said...

I think it will be interesting to see what happens at San Onofre next summer. I'm guessing that the DPR will still be getting complaints about inappropriate behavior, probably more than before. But they won't be able to tie it to the nudists using be beach. The people that were causing the problems will still be there.