How would you like to be driving along the road, minding your own business, look over to your right, and see a bicyclist go by without any cloths? What’s more, what if your child was in the car with you? You might think this never happens, especially in Montana. But it has! Last year a group organized a nude bike ride through the heart of Missoula. Seriously, there was a large group of people riding naked through the streets of one of Montana’s largest cities.
The stated purpose? To protest the use of oil. What public nudity has to do with the petroleum industry – I don’t know. It seems like the real purpose had more to do with thrill seeking and desire to shock, than any political activism, but when a person takes off all their clothes in public and then rides a bike, it’s dangerous to assume that we know what’s going on in their head. The good news is, there’s hope to change this situation in the future.
This week the Montana House of Representatives introduced a new bill to tighten up our indecent exposure laws and we think it’s about time. One Missoula Representative is carrying House Bill 365 to revise the definition of indecent exposure in hopes of preventing future naked bike rides on public streets where children might be present.
Right now, there are probably some people hearing this broadcast and thinking, “What’s the problem? The human body is beautiful!” In one sense, they’re right. We are all beautiful creations of God: spirit, soul and, yes, body. In His eyes, every single one of us is delightful to behold. But from a human perspective, public indecency is seriously problematic. Children go out in public every day. Do we really want them encountering a man who thinks it’s fun and cool to ride his bike naked?
There are some times one is left with little to do but shake one’s head and repeat over and over again, “Common sense, people – common sense.”
The Missoula nude bike ride was made possible by vague indecent exposure laws that make it not illegal to expose yourself in public, as long as you don’t undertake a lewd act while doing so. Some of us, of course, think taking your clothes off in public is a lewd act in of itself. But some government officials apparently consider that standard old fashioned.
Now the Legislature is stepping in to change the definition of indecent exposure. If this bill passes, a person breaks the law just by taking off their clothes in public. There’s no more requirement of any specific act. Under the current standard, a prosecutor has to prove that someone charged with indecent exposure intended to commit a lewd act. Under the new proposal, they simply have to prove that the defendant’s actions would cause a reasonable person to be alarmed or offended.
We applaud Representative Doc Moore of Missoula for taking this step. We need more Legislators willing to stand up for Montana families and parents with children.
It’s all fine and good to be a free spirit, or be “liberated” about one’s body. But when you leave your house and come out into places that you share with the general public, it’s time to share the general public’s standards. It’s time to share the standards of Montana families.