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Thursday, May 17, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Editorial

Cheeky Fremont

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Perturbed over the prospect of public nudity, Seattle Police are asking the Fremont Arts Council to set up warning signs along the route of its June 16 solstice parade. The signs would say that public nudity is forbidden.

Everyone knows that. Even little children know that. But Fremont being the sort of place it is, the solstice parade has attracted a group of exhibitionists who bicycle ahead of the parade buck naked. They have not been invited, and their cheek is resented, but they have not been subject to fine and imprisonment.

There is an idea about law that if it may be broken with impunity it will unravel, resulting in social chaos. Clearly, this has not been the case in Fremont. That nudists have pedaled through that district with impunity one day a year has not brought them streaking through West Seattle, Ballard and Columbia City.

They have stolen the spotlight on a parade that is supposed to be about art, not about being unclothed. The Fremonters resent that. They do not want the nudists doing this. But they do not want them wrestled to the pavement by police, spoiling the atmosphere of their parade.

Several ideas are now brewing. One is to simply ask the nudists to stay away. Another is to have an "Emergency Nakedness Booth," a kind of mass dressing room for those who want to make a "statement." Another is the "Emergency Clothing Response Team."

A simple ride through the Center of the Universe unclothed, if that's all it amounts to, is more a breach of decorum than of public morals. If Fremont wants to handle the response, it is a small concession. At most, the kids will laugh at the silly adults with no clothes. The rest of us should keep our shirts on.

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