George and Terry explore the roots of that absurd old myth about the sight of the human body causing brain damage in children.
Some comments on the $1000 essay challenge
George Davis says:
Many people who read my written works think that urban nudism is OK as long as no children are present. Yet many psychological studies demonstrate that children who are around nudity have better, more realistic body consciousness, are mentally healthier, and have fewer sexual problems (like teenage pregnancies). For five years, I have had, and continue to have, a standing offer of $1000 to anyone that can write an intelligent 500-word essay supporting the claim that children are harmed by the sight of a nude adult. To date, I have received zero essays. Does that mean that the essay cannot be written?
I could write such an essay, though the harm to a child is no different than the harm to an adult, even if U.S. legal precedent treats the two differently.
An old girlfriend ended up in the Emergency Room and on crutches for two months, after seeing a nude adult salamander. Her phobic panic reaction was really based on snakes, but a salamander sunning near the English Ivy on my brick-walled garage was similar enough to shock her into running away while keeping her head turned to watch over her shoulder, resulting in a diagonal fall into bluestone and trap rock, with a severely twisted leg.
In other instances, I’ve seen former college professors, who claim to have liberal religious values and respect social and legal justice, act very impulsively and childishly on hearing the word “fuck” — even in discussions of sociology, economics, or civil rights. One put her thumbs in her ears and twiddled her fingers like a brainwashed nursery school child. Another tensed up her entire body and then lashed out with a verbal barrage — suffering a shutdown of mental maturity.
According to a song in the musical South Pacific, “Hate must be carefully taught.” — i.e., kids are indoctrinated by their parents or their peers with traditions of prejudice and social bias. Recent social psychology research and litigation expands on that position, distinguishing different forms of trained and irrational disgust reactions, or issues of dysphoria, as the real underlying problem. Nudity’s harm to children does not stem from seeing nude adults or sex per se — it stems from the triggered consequence in some kids (and adults).
Of course what that research and litigation really documents is that any differences between the reactions of children and the reactions of adults to the sight of nude humans, or nude salamanders, or to trigger words, derive from such factors as child abuse by prejudiced adults or irrational phobias triggered by arbitrary stimuli.
Failing to teach kids coping skills for a diverse society is a serious form of child neglect. The indoctrination of children with prejudices should be treated as child abuse when it’s based on what are properly civil rights of neighbors. Phobia triggering is harder to address since it is intensely personal and based on irrational fears.
The child can just as easily be indoctrinated to fear or to show physical disgust reactions at the thought of flying in an airplane, visiting some unknown relative, or on seeing a pink house or purple car. Of course there’s nothing inherently harmful in any of those things, but the child can experience crippling levels of phobic dysphoria or cognitive dissonance from abusive indoctrination combined with lack of learned coping skills, on seeing nearly any such trigger. Anti-nudity indoctrination is common in some societies and should be ended — just as the miscegenation laws and related social practices dealt with in South Pacific have been ended, and Loving v. Virginia overturned.
Perhaps the replacement mantra needs to be: “respecting rights must be carefully taught”?
George Davis responds:
For the $1000 essay contest on “What harm would befall a child who sees a nude adult?”, the response I’ve enjoyed most is this one: “What if my 9 year-old daughter walks into your penis and pokes her eye out?”