Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Finally, the real motivation comes out.

Most people have heard the story of Eric Williamson, the man arrested for being naked in his own house. I hesitated on blogging about the case because I felt information was missing. In addition the story was changing fairly quickly.

First, we were told the woman had been cutting across private property and saw the man inside the house naked. She called police who came rushing down in force. When there were questions about the woman being on private property and not on public property the story evolved. Now she claimed to have seen the man twice, once while cutting across the property where he lived and a second time in front of his house on the sidewalk. I found that story change a bit convenient.

I assumed that this second claim on the woman's part would cause the police to reconsider the arrest. Instead they redoubled their efforts and acted in ways I thought highly improper. The police distributed a leaflet basically begging other people to file charges against the man by claiming they too had seen him naked. It is one thing if others say this happened repeatedly but when the police solicit complaints they are, whether wittingly or not, soliciting people to file false accusations. There are plenty of people who want their 15 minutes of fame and wouldn't mind falsely accusing another person to do so.

It seemed odd to me that the police seemed to have so much invested in this case. The easiest thing to do would have been to say that all complaints have to be investigated and leave it at that. But the police were actively trying to get other people to make charges as well. I wanted to know why. Now the Washington Post has revealed the reason:
As officers tell it, the 45-year-old woman, the wife of a Fairfax police officer, was walking her son to school about 8:40 a.m. along a well-traveled path between public tennis courts and the house where Williamson had been living for three months when a noise drew her attention to a side door.
Now their extraordinary interest in proving the man's guilt is clear. The woman is married to a police officer and the boys in blue will always rally around one of their own, no matter whether their own is wrong or not. It is just the same crap we see from cops repeatedly, where they will lie and fake evidence to support one of their own, even if one of their own is a criminal. I'm not saying the woman is a criminal but she was trespassing on private property and she saw a naked man because of it. Get over it.

Ah, but what about her child. Actually it was her son and I suggest the boy has seen a penis before. The man didn't have anything the boy lacked. And the description of the incident that has been given indicates the man was not a flasher. Exhibitionists usually don't operate from inside their own homes, they prefer to ambush people. Of course, there are exceptions. Exhibitionists also do this because it is sexually stimulating to them. All the descriptions of the incident lead one to conclude this man was not stimulated in any way. Frequently such incidents are combined with masturbation. The exhibitionists prefers to shock a viewer and get them to watch him orgasm. Again this didn't happen either. The man was in his kitchen and wasn't aroused and wasn't masturbating.

Exhibitionism, like most paraphilias, is often planned in advance. The expectation of the incident adds to the excitement for the exhibitionist. They will place themselves in such a manner as to "ambush" an unsuspecting victim (usually a man showing himself to a woman). So they will go someplace where victims are likely to be found. But could this man know that a woman was going to cut across his property that morning?

The evidence against him is very circumstantial indeed. And the incident doesn't seem to fit the pattern for exhibitionists. Of course, it is possible that the he did it on purpose, didn't find the experience arousing (but does it anyway for some other reason) and was willing to do it in a manner where he was sure to get caught. Most exhibitionists will not use their home as their base of operations for the "show" they put on. They don't want to get arrested, just be seen. So typically they will hang out away from their home or be sitting in a car so they can make a speedy get-away. To me everything about the case still says he was probably doing precisely what he said he was doing: making coffee in the morning, in his own kitchen, without getting dressed.

Once again the American pre-occupation with, and fear of, nudity is astounding. Should plain nudity alone be shocking? It was certainly common in the parks of Germany, in full public display of everyone. Beaches in France were the same way. I remember a hotel in Paris that overlooked a public pool where the women swam topless. The hotel staff said that no one, except Americans, found this offensive --- which is why they said Americans were the only ones who sat looking out their windows all the time.

Much of the law on this topic assumes that nudity per se is obscene. What a strange position to take over the human body. The truth is, most nude humans are totally uninteresting. A rare few have the bodies that attract attention and, sadly, they are the ones who tend to stay clothed the most. I've walked down the street and seen naked people through their windows. I neither slowed down, stopped, or stared. It was a glimpse and not particularly shocking or upsetting. Why should it be?

I certainly can understand the question of whether sexual activity in public is acceptable. But plain nudity is rather boring and I don't see why Americans have to make more of it than is warranted. You'd think these people thought we were born with diapers on. Outside of the Islamic world the United States is still pretty unique in this rather bizarre and contradictory view regarding nudity: it is obscene and disgusting yet people are fascinated by it. Well it is neither obscene nor disgusting and, to be quite honest, not that fascinating.

Photo: this rather boring photo is a satellite image of the Tiergarten park in Berlin. Those dots on the ground are naked people. Horrified?

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