Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Busybody Society

The headline in yesterday’s local paper was, “Naked Stroll Ends in Pot Probation.” According to the story, some upstanding citizen looked out his car window and saw a naked man walking in the woods, so he made a U-turn to investigate and called the police, who followed their dogs to the man’s house and found marijuana growing in his garden. The story doesn’t tell us whose woods he was walking in, but they clearly didn’t belong to the driver. The landowner wasn’t complaining.

This is another place where I’m less than objective. If I had to come up with a short list of ways I’d like to spend ten minutes, skinny dipping in the woods would be on it. I wouldn’t want to be the cause of someone’s death from laughter or being grossed out, so I’d be more careful than this fellow was to stay out of the sight of the righteous, but come on—is some fruity nut (we’re despised, but we’re nutritious) walking around naked in the woods something to call the police about? And by the time the police arrived, the guy had gone home: end of transgression. So why did they need to chase him?

I know nakedness is dangerous: whenever I see some of the girls in my church narthex, I struggle not to envy the pendants nestled in their cleavages. Maybe I should call the police.

But all’s well that ends well, apparently—they found marijuana in his garden. Horrors! No one but Nature Boy knew the plants existed before then, so it isn’t like they were searching for the source of some known distress. Maybe growing pot is dangerous because it’s related to walking around naked. Or maybe some people have too much time on their hands.

The article also disturbed me because, while it named the naked man, it didn’t name the driver. Doesn’t common decency require that if you name one party in a dispute you name them both? If you’re going to name the villain, shouldn’t you name the hero? Today’s paper did the same thing: it named some woman accused—accused, not convicted, mind you—of trying to kill her pets and herself. Did it name her accusers? Ha! So this woman’s name and picture are on the front page, but her accusers are safely anonymous. Let’s play a little Golden Rule game: would you like your face and name on the front page as the result of an anonymous accusation? If you were guilty, wouldn’t you want to deal with your victims in private?

We Westerners think of ourselves as individuals who value privacy, but the driver’s actions, and those of the police and the newspaper, prove to me that we don’t. I’m told that in Japan, in the days of literal paper walls, it was the height of rudeness to acknowledge having heard anything of a conversation in the next room. Houses with more than one room are comparatively rare in human history, so I would guess that most babies ever born were conceived in rooms with more than two awake people in them. Most people know to keep their noses out of other people’s business. But we can’t look the other way when someone is alone naked in the woods and growing weeds in his garden.

I know pendants with more sense.

1 comment:

  1. I'm back on the the blog, too, if you remind me through FB status. :) This one's good, Dad. The last paragraph is especially interesting to me. I guess I just took for granted the one-room houses in Waikuna, but it makes complete sense!

    Love you!