Contributor Post Created with Sketch. There Will Be No Bathing Suits on The Road to Serfdom (But In This Case, I Might Not Mind)

 

This story requires one to consider social mores, conservatism, government powers, libertarianism, class, classlessness, tradition, expression, subsidiarity, humility, pride and manners. In other words, it’s practically the reason Ricochet.com was created.

My beloved little city of Asbury Park, NJ made national headlines in 2010 when a local storekeeper, while attempting to drum up business, made a push for the City by the Sea to have a nude beach. The measure was ultimately rejected. That it was seriously considered at all shows how liberal Bruce Springsteen’s adopted hometown has become (of the 5,418 registered voters, only 390 are Republican).

What a difference two years makes though. Former councilwoman and Republican Committeewoman Louise Murray has found a 50-year-old ordinance on the books that says people in Asbury Park may not wear bathing suits on the boardwalk. At a recent council meeting she pleaded with the City to once again enforce it. Her plea has been picked up as newsworthy locally, regionally, and nationally now that Drudge has given it a headline. The City Council is considering her request.

I don’t know if there is a social conservative backlash to the Obama Administration going on in this country but this might actually be proof of it. Here is an exchange between Ms. Murray and Asbury Park Deputy Mayor John Loffredo as reported by a local website, www. moremonmouthmusings.net:

“I’ll be darned if I want to be standing at a bar and have somebody slither up in a Speedo or bikini that shouldn’t be in a bathing suit,” Murray said. “It’s disgraceful … I implore you to enforce this, but do not amend it.”

Deputy Mayor John Loffredo responded, “I honestly don’t disagree with you.”

Why is that exchange important? Loffredo is one of New Jersey’s first openly gay elected politicians and a Democrat. He’s a liberal. He supports Asbury Park’s annual Gay Pride Parade (and you know how they dress marching in that). Yet he doesn’t disagree with Ms. Murray about this. A shift in social mores?

A bit of history about Asbury Park for context. It was founded as a Methodist retreat in the late 1800s. It had been a dry town where certain sports were originally banned as they might attract bettors. This one-square-mile City still has nearly 40 churches. So full of elegance was it that when I was a boy people would dress up to walk downtown and women working at the local department store were forbidden from wearing pants.

Then Asbury Park declined. For a number of reasons too long to list here, it became first cousin to hell, with rampant poverty and one of the highest crime rates in New Jersey.

However, over the past ten years, Asbury Park has come back and recaptured much of the glory it once held. 

[Commercial break: Come enjoy Asbury Park this summer. Beautiful beaches, 40 stores on the boardwalk, great music clubs, 2 dozen restaurants, excellent downtown shopping and more. My wife and I take the kids there often.]

Whenever you have a degraded urban area, you can guess what group of people show up and pretty-up the neighborhood: Gays. They were always here, but a steady stream of them moved in over the past decade and turned our beautiful houses, each of which had housed 30 non-English speaking people from somewhere south of Texas, back into lovely single family homes again (try the breathtaking house tour when you visit).

Now, I don’t mean to make a sweeping generalization, but I feel compelled to make a sweeping generalization: When you have a gay community, you get with it a certain number of people who take “pride” quite literally. Two words: banana hammock.

I don’t mean to turn you off to visiting Asbury Park. It isn’t a severe problem here. You will certainly see many, many more guys like me in long swimsuits than not but as far as I’m concerned, one guy wearing a tight bikini bottom is one too many.

I’m an American. If you’re not on the Olympic Swim Team, I hate your tiny little swimsuit, Mister. It gives me the willies. There, I said it. But let’s be clear about something: I don’t choose to get the willies when I see a man’s bare rear at the bottom of what looks like his sister’s bathing suit. Got that? It’s not a choice. I was born this way. I can’t help that I hate seeing rear-hair any more than someone can choose their own eye color. In fact, since I was born this way, I assert it’s natural for me to feel this way. Even more, I’m proud of it – so proud I may have a parade to show how proud I am of who I am.

Know that this is not about homosexuality. It just so happens that gays in Asbury Park are the men wearing these things. If it were straight guys parading their ugly parts I’d be just as uncomfortable. A man should act and dress like a man, no matter his sexual orientation.

What this really is about is what I listed at the top: Humility. Social mores. Class. Your rear end, no matter how good you think it looks, has none of it.

Why am I concentrating on mens’ rears and not womens’ rears? Because when it comes to this issue I’m sexist. I was born that way too.

I’m also a hypocrite. Normally I’m a hardcore Libertarian. I spit my 32 ounce soda every time Mike Bloomberg tells me what to eat. I don’t like telling Muslim women they can’t wear a burka if they want to. Usually I’d be railing about individual liberty, giving government reach the arms of Tyrannosaurus Rex and that sort of thing. But – where you stand on an issue often depends on where you sit. When I’m sitting down the beach, I don’t want to look at another man’s buttocks. And I don’t want my kids to have to look at it either. 

Our gay, Democrat Deputy Mayor John Loffredo just may agree with me which is further proof that this isn’t a gay issue. Gays have humility too. No one is born with it – manners are a personal choice. Also, him being such a good fellow means I’m in good company and on the right side of this.

I think. I’ll leave it up to you, Ricochet. Have I abandoned Libertarianism? Have I unleashed my inner Social Conservative? Is this just about manners, and can government enforce good manners?

Post script: I wanted this post accompanied by a photo of people in bikinis. So fearful of being redacted for a Code of Conduct violation with each photo I viewed that I settled on these cookies dressed in bikinis. Take that, Ricochet Editors! Try to redact cookies!

Photo Credit: www.LivingItWithLisa.com

There are 41 comments.

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  1. Diane Ellis Contributor
    Tommy De Seno

    Post script: I wanted this post accompanied by a photo of people in bikinis. So fearful of being redacted for a Code of Conduct violation with each photo I viewed that I settled on these cookies dressed in bikinis. Take that, Ricochet Editors! Try to redact cookies!

    The cookie exposing her nipples needs to be redacted. Calling EJHill.

    I enjoyed this post, Tommy. The subject of whose rights triumph whose (it’s “whose” not “whom’s”, right?) where various instances of public decency come into play is very interesting to me.

    • #1
    • June 27, 2012, at 1:06 AM PST
    • 1 like
  2. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno Post author
    Diane Ellis, Ed.
    Tommy De Seno

    Post script: I wanted this post accompanied by a photo of people in bikinis. So fearful of being redacted for a Code of Conduct violation with each photo I viewed that I settled on these cookies dressed in bikinis. Take that, Ricochet Editors! Try to redact cookies!

    The cookie exposing her nipples needs to be redacted. Calling EJHill.

    I enjoyed this post, Tommy. The subject of whose rights triumph whose (it’s “whose” not “whom’s”, right?) where various instances of public decency come into play is very interesting to me. · 4 minutes ago

    I didn’t see the doughy nipple slip until after I posted it. You may have to redact that cookies after all!

    Whose vs Whom’s? Beats me. With every post I make I pray you clean up my grammar. I’m without the proper tools.

    • #2
    • June 27, 2012, at 1:12 AM PST
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  3. EJHill Podcaster
    Diane Ellis, Ed. The cookie exposing her nipples needs to be redacted. Calling EJHill.

    Pasties on pastry?

    • #3
    • June 27, 2012, at 1:14 AM PST
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  4. Chris Johnson Inactive

    Diane, that is clearly pink icing, just as on the outline of the cookie. Pastry pasties!

    • #4
    • June 27, 2012, at 1:19 AM PST
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  5. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno Post author

    Have at it EJ.

    • #5
    • June 27, 2012, at 1:19 AM PST
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  6. Chris Johnson Inactive

    Dang it, EJ!

    • #6
    • June 27, 2012, at 1:19 AM PST
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  7. Austin Murrey Inactive

    Tommy, I’d say there’s a difference between libertarian and anarchist: a libertarian dislikes government but understands there’s a bare minimum that exists in many spheres, including public dress. 

    Anarchists don’t believe in any rules, so if people want to walk around in or (without) clothing that makes you uncomfortable well that’s your problem.

    Of course, as a perfectly happy social conservative I would say: “Were you raised in a barn? Put on some darn pants, there are ladies present.”

    • #7
    • June 27, 2012, at 1:28 AM PST
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  8. John Walker Contributor
    Tommy De Seno

    What a difference two years makes though. Former councilwoman and Republican Committeewoman Louise Murray has found a 50 year old ordinance on the books that says people in Asbury Park may not wear bathing suits on the boardwalk. At a recent council meeting she pleaded with the City to once again enforce it.

    So then, per this ordinance, if one shows up on the boardwalk au naturel, can one then plead if apprehended that they are not wearing a bathing suit?

    • #8
    • June 27, 2012, at 1:29 AM PST
    • 1 like
  9. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno Post author
    John Walker
    Tommy De Seno

    What a difference two years makes though. Former councilwoman and Republican Committeewoman Louise Murray has found a 50 year old ordinance on the books that says people in Asbury Park may not wear bathing suits on the boardwalk. At a recent council meeting she pleaded with the City to once again enforce it.

    So then, per this ordinance, if one shows up on the boardwalk au naturel, can one then plead if apprehended that they are not wearing a bathing suit? · 0 minutes ago

    Please don’t give them ideas, John. This place voted 9 to 1 Obama so I think you know what will happen if you give them ideas.

    • #9
    • June 27, 2012, at 1:30 AM PST
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  10. EJHill Podcaster

    Two great minds, CJ, separated by mouse click…

    • #10
    • June 27, 2012, at 1:30 AM PST
    • 1 like
  11. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno Post author
    Austin Murrey: …a libertarian dislikes government but understands there’s a bare minimum that exists in many spheres…

    This pun earns a rim shot:

    • #11
    • June 27, 2012, at 1:33 AM PST
    • 1 like
  12. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Tommy De Seno
    Austin Murrey: …a libertarian dislikes government but understands there’s a bare minimum that exists in many spheres…

    This pun earns a rim shot: · 1 minute ago

    Ya got me.

    • #12
    • June 27, 2012, at 1:36 AM PST
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  13. Caryn Member

    Tommy, I’m SO with you on this one (words, honestly, I never thought I’d ever write). It is just about common decency, but that’s something we’re sorely missing these days. Except around Ricochet! Can’t we get a CoC for the rest of the country?

    I don’t want to look at any man’s hairy rear, either. Particularly in public. I don’t want to see women that indecently dressed, either, for that matter.

    BTW, another personal note, you being from NJ explains a lot. You may not be nearly as…. fill in the word…as you seem. I grew up in NYC before running away to Alaska. Don’t quite fit with either group, but I “get” both.

    • #13
    • June 27, 2012, at 1:52 AM PST
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  14. AIG Inactive
    AIG

    In my opinion, yes, this is contrary to “libertarianism” (I never liked that word), but more importantly individual liberty and responsibility. But without getting into the morals of the issue, this becomes a legal issue. Telling people they can’t wear bikinis on the boardwalk, requires one to define what is a “bikini”. Are cops going to go down the boardwalk measuring the width of a woman’s or man’s “pants”? it also requires a justification as to how this is different from someone wearing shorts, and why the government can then not pass a law prohibiting women from walking around without a burqa.

    Ultimately, the difference between “libertarians” and social conservatives, in my opinion, is that social conservatives find little legal barriers to legislate behavior when it fits their morals, but not so when the “other” side does it. A “libertarian” would argue that it is precisely the use of legal means to legislate behavior, that is the problem. If you don’t want to see, or have your kids see something like that, then go to a private beach where that is not allowed. Conservatives, of all people, ought to embrace that approach.

    • #14
    • June 27, 2012, at 1:52 AM PST
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  15. Conservative Episcopalian Inactive

    I just wonder what would happen if one were to take photos of offensive posteriors, along with enough identifying information to make it obvious to the owner whose it was, but without positive ID (faces) and post them on a web site. And on said web site post some real biting criticism about the quality of the posterior. Think that maybe some good old fashioned shame might do the trick instead of the police enforcing an ordinance?

    • #15
    • June 27, 2012, at 1:58 AM PST
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  16. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno Post author
    Caryn: Tommy, I’m SO with you on this one (words, honestly, I never thought I’d ever write). It is just about common decency, but that’s something we’re sorely missing these days. Except around Ricochet! Can’t we get a CoC for the rest of the country?

    I don’t want to look at any man’s hairy rear, either. Particularly in public. I don’t want to see women that indecently dressed, either, for that matter.

    BTW, another personal note, you being from NJ explains a lot. You may not be nearly as…. fill in the word…as you seem. I grew up in NYC before running away to Alaska. Don’t quite fit with either group, but I “get” both. · 11 minutes ago

    Whatever that word is Caryn I’m probably it.

    • #16
    • June 27, 2012, at 2:04 AM PST
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  17. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno Post author
    Conservative Episcopalian: I just wonder what would happen if one were to take photos of offensive posteriors, along with enough identifying information to make it obvious to the owner whose it was, but without positive ID (faces) and post them on a web site. And on said web site post some real biting criticism about the quality of the posterior. Think that maybe some good old fashioned shame might do the trick instead of the police enforcing an ordinance? · 6 minutes ago

    And what would happen to my reputation were I seen photographing men’s rear ends down the beach?

    • #17
    • June 27, 2012, at 2:07 AM PST
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  18. Bulldawg Inactive

    Tommy, I think it boils down to courtesy. This very good article in this weekend’s WSJ makes the point that what one wears implicitly expresses what one thinks about the situation in which one finds oneself and about those with whom one is accompanied.

    You and I are both attorneys: We wear suits to court. We do so because it shows respect to the “Law,” the Court, the process and the participants. If I slopped in wearing jeans and a t-shirt and presented myself before a judge, it would say what I think of him and his office. I would quickly know what he thought when I was found in contempt.

    This is why it bothers me that so many churchgoers dress for worship as if they were doing no more than running into Wal-Mart for an RC Cola and a Moon-Pie.

    I’ll let others figure out what the Speedo wearers are implicitly saying with their “attire.” 

    • #18
    • June 27, 2012, at 2:11 AM PST
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  19. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno Post author
    Matthew Lawrence: Tommy, I think it boils down to courtesy. This very good article in this weekend’s WSJ makes the point that what one wears implicitly expresses what one thinks about the situation in which one finds oneself and about those with whom one is accompanied.

    You and I are both attorneys: We wear suits to court. We do so because it shows respect to the “Law,” the Court, the process and the participants. If I slopped in wearing jeans and a t-shirt and presented myself before a judge, it would say what I think of him and his office. I would quickly know what he thought when I was found in contempt.

    This is why it bothers me that so many churchgoers dress for worship as if they were doing no more than running into Wal-Mart for an RC Cola and a Moon-Pie.

    I’ll let others figure out what the Speedo wearers are implicitly saying with their “attire.” · 1 minute ago

    All true, but can we legislate manners and courtesy? I recall recently some town outlawed curse words.

    • #19
    • June 27, 2012, at 2:14 AM PST
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  20. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Tommy De Seno
    Matthew Lawrence: · 1 minute ago

    All true, but can we legislate manners and courtesy? I recall recently some town outlawed curse words. · 0 minutes ago

    We can legislate manners and courtesy, but we shouldn’t. The problem these days is that the best tool, social pressure, against unacceptable behavior is considered either rude or bigoted in some fashion. 

    If I see a child misbehaving and correct the child, I’m as likely to be yelled at by a parent as I am thanked. People are resorting to totalitarian methods because more traditional, better methods have been made unacceptable.

    • #20
    • June 27, 2012, at 2:28 AM PST
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  21. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno Post author
    Austin Murrey
    Tommy De Seno
    Matthew Lawrence: · 1 minute ago

    All true, but can we legislate manners and courtesy? I recall recently some town outlawed curse words. · 0 minutes ago

    We can legislate manners and courtesy, but we shouldn’t. The problem these days is that the best tool, social pressure, against unacceptable behavior is considered either rude or bigoted in some fashion. 

    If I see a child misbehaving and correct the child, I’m as likely to be yelled at by a parent as I am thanked. People are resorting to totalitarian methods because more traditional, better methods have been made unacceptable. · 11 minutes ago

    So true. You can’t shame a person who isn’t embarrassed.

    • #21
    • June 27, 2012, at 2:40 AM PST
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  22. Caryn Member

    I laughed out loud (really) at this image:

    Tommy De Seno
    Conservative Episcopalian: I just wonder what would happen if one were to take photos of offensive posteriors, 

    And what would happen to my reputation were I seen photographing men’s rear ends down the beach? · 42 minutes ago

    Then Austin Murrey made the point I was about to. Freedom and liberty require a populace capable, above all, of self-control. Absent such a demos, it seems, we must legislate. Deviancy has been defined down to the point that it seems barely to exist except that those who wish for more refined public behaviors are somehow now the deviants. Strange world.

    • #22
    • June 27, 2012, at 2:55 AM PST
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  23. Guruforhire Member

    In common spaces the commons can regulate the behavior of the people in those spaces.

     Nothing anti-libertarian about it. I dont view it any differently than I would asking an invited guest into my house to please not smoke.

    • #23
    • June 27, 2012, at 3:24 AM PST
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  24. flownover Inactive

    Never ,ever want to see Bruce Springsteen in a hammock, banana or otherwise.

    • #24
    • June 27, 2012, at 4:14 AM PST
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  25. Jimmy Carter Member
    flownover: Never ,ever want to see Bruce Springsteen in a hammock, banana or otherwise. · 10 minutes ago

    Gov. Christie?

    • #25
    • June 27, 2012, at 4:26 AM PST
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  26. Profile Photo Member

    Mr. De Seno: Thanks for this! Civility, courtesy and *something* left to the imagination make the boardwalk a destination (whether it’s in NJ, PA or OH).

    • #26
    • June 27, 2012, at 5:39 AM PST
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  27. Profile Photo Member

    People have used clothing, be it or banana hammocks or burkas, to signal their strength, dominance and power in the community. Clothing pushes out those who do not go along with the main group identity. Clothing is a very emotional issue. The Scots were not allowed their kilts by the English for a time in history. This psychology shapes cities and countries, they evolve into areas for specific groups. Now that gay is mainstream in Toronto, the Gay Pride Parade is shrinking and last year, most people were fully clothed. My mother was quite disappointed. But the gay area has tightey whitey car wash days where men in transparent underwear will wash your car. My husband is not impressed, yet I am sure he will go to Hooters or a women in transparent clothing car wash. Also, women’s groups got it legalized for females to go topless in Ontario anywhere men can go shirtless. Every year my sons wait in breathless anticipation, but women are just not going to evolve into males, no matter how much the women’s groups try. Tommy, you are being “squeezed” out. It is a power play.

    • #27
    • June 27, 2012, at 5:41 AM PST
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  28. flownover Inactive

    JimmahWe both know that Christie understands his beauty are his wordsmithing and his attitude. No bimbo him.

    • #28
    • June 27, 2012, at 5:46 AM PST
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  29. Wylee Coyote Member
    Tommy De Seno

    “I’ll be darned if I want to be standing at a bar and have somebody slither up in a Speedo or bikini that shouldn’t be in a bathing suit,” Murray said. “It’s disgraceful … I implore you to enforce this, but do not amend it.”

    Deputy Mayor John Loffredo responded, “I honestly don’t disagree with you.”

    Why is that exchange important? Loffredo is one of New Jersey’s first openly gay elected politicians and a Democrat. He’s a liberal. He supports Asbury Park’s annual Gay Pride Parade (and you know how they dress marching in that). Yet he doesn’t disagree with Ms. Murray about this. A shift in social mores?

    The qualification that the hypothetical slitherer “shouldn’t be in a bathing suit” makes me think this is more an aesthetic judgment than a question of public morals.

    • #29
    • June 27, 2012, at 5:50 AM PST
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  30. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno Post author
    Astonishing: A useful over-simplification: On a continuum–from unadorned nudity to shapeless black burkas–two points representing manners of dress about which one might say, “Within these two points, manners of dress are matters of convention. Manners of dress outside these two points offend morality, correctness, or good sense.” 

    Is the range of the conventional closer to burka or to nudity, or are the two points in some sense equidistant from the respective ends?

    Or, is the truth about manners of dress not linear, but multidimensional? It is commonly said that how we dress expresses something about ourselves. If we think of suchexpression as more than individual personal statements, and also asshared language, it becomes more than a matter of what is worn, but also where it is worn, by whom, in what circumstances. A greater number of distinctions, or rules, reasonably fitted to what is proper for particular persons (sex, age, social status) and circumstances (public, private, religious, celebratory)mightindicate a society with a better grasp of its humanity. 

    Fascinating! To think about it in these terms has opened my mind further on the issue. Thank you.

    • #30
    • June 27, 2012, at 5:53 AM PST
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