The Right To Bear Clothes

Thomas, Scalia, Roberts, Kennedy, Bader-Ginsburg. Back row: Sotomayor, Breyer, Alito, Kagan.

It never occurred to the Founding Fathers to elucidate the right to bear clothes, so obvious does, I mean, did, this seem. It began to seem less obvious in 2004, when the Abu Ghraib pornography was unleashed on an unsuspecting public. Marines in uniform seemed right at home alongside Irakis stripped of their clothes. There was so much objectionable about those photos, naked wasn’t at the top of the list, but maybe it should have been.

What’s the right to bear arms beside the right to bear clothes? If I were a lawyer, I’d argue that the one implies the other, that clothing is a weapon, the first and last line of defense against physical incursion upon a person’s person.

Like that Eleventh Commandment, Thou shalt not strip another person naked against her or his will.

Hasn’t this been drilled into us since childhood, when we were first obliged to put the damn things on? Pink for me, blue for him. Don’t we all mightily know what clothes mean? Beneath all the complex socioeconomic codes, clothes indicate we’re human, and nobody, unconsensually, gets to strip us of our humanity.

Except any cop in these great United States of America who arrests you or me for any offense whatsoever, even — or perhaps especially — in error, which means they should be apologizing rather than staring up your bunghole.

Thanks be to those geniuses on the Supreme Court who ruled last week, 5 to 4, against Albert Florence, guilty of having paid a traffic violation. That’s right, he’d paid it, but the arresting assholes believed he hadn’t, so they violated his traffic. Possibly just for the fun of it.

I mean, who doesn’t enjoy stripping strangers while remaining fully clothed with a gun snug in a leather holster hanging off a squeaky leather belt?

So Albert Florence sued the cops and the case went all the way to the Supreme Court, where boys and girls alike wear big dowdy black robes over their dowdy everyday outfits. And 5 to 4, led by the odious Anthony Kennedy, that ultimate legal authority ruled that anyone, anywhere, arrested even by mistake — that’s the beauty of this case — must submit to a strip search.

Do they have any idea what they just did?

Naomi Wolf goes appropriately wild with the news for London’s Guardian.


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