Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Indecent Exposure vs. Nosy Neighbor
Thanks to the internet, Twitter, etc., the saga of Eric W. of Fairfax County has spread around the world. He is the guy accused of indecent exposure for being being spotted nude in his home. A 45 year-old woman, wife of a Fairfax County (VA) police officer, was walking her child to school. She claims she heard a noise then saw the naked Eric in his driveway. They reportedly kept walking and saw him again through a large window. I don't know any history of the young man and I, for one, have no reason to believe that what he did was intended to inflict harm. With that in mind, I think his arrest was uncalled for. To help you to understand my reasoning, allow me to share some personal history. All of it happened right here, in D.C. During the 70s I worked in an office in what had been an elegant old mansion on N Street, NW. Across the street, a house that had been home to Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt had been replaced by a modern apartment building. The windows in the apartments were almost floor to ceiling and wall to wall, exposing the kitchen and living room. Venetian blinds aren't terribly effective for maintaining privacy when they are pulled up to the top of the window, or slanted in a horizontal position. I can't tell you how many times I was distracted while gazing [in deep thought, of course] out my office window by a naked man or woman exercising or preparing food. At the same time, I was living in an apartment with windows mere feet across an alley facing another building. Spouse was the first to notice a naked young woman strutting about in front of a young man in an apartment across the alley. The blinds were pulled to the top of the window and every light was on. I laughed at her exhibitionism and closed our blinds tight. Another incident happened late one Spring night when we had our windows open for what little cool air we could get. A young man, wearing a sweater vest and yarmulke was groping a girl on the roof of that same apartment house, directly across from our bedroom window. He was trying to get it on while standing up. We could hear every word and whine. We thought it would have embarrassed them if we suddenly closed the windows, so we stifled laughter and tried to go back to sleep. In the same building another resident regularly stood naked at his corner window while people walked to work. Walking in the other direction, I hadn't notice him until someone pointed him out. He was nonchalantly drinking from a coffee cup looking down at us, stark naked. I don't know if children every saw these other people but, frankly, I didn't see anything lecherous about them. I think they simply enjoyed being discovered in their nudity. People like that are pathetic or intellectually challenged. Please understand, I am NOT the least bit interested in being seen naked. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty puritanical when it comes to my own body. However, when it comes to dictating how others live in their own homes, I think we should mind our own business unless anyone might be harmed. Children must be protected from predators whether or not they are nude. I also think that, in this particular case, drapes would have been more apropos than arrest. Swerving a bit away from the subject -- we live in a pet-free building because I draw the line at neighbors raising dangerous snakes or other critters that might get loose and hurt me. We'd love to have a dog or two, but sacrifices must be made to avoid living next door to something with fangs. There will always be people who love reptiles or prefer life without clothing and who either cannot imagine that they are scaring/offending others or simply don't care. To those who are offended by seeing a naked body: avert your eyes -- keep walking -- close your curtains -- get a life!