During a very hot June in 1997 Vincent Bethell began writing to his local Parliamentarian,
the Government, and the police. Vincent was questioning the law regarding public
nakedness. The law was unclear thus he asked: IF public nakedness is illegal why
is it illegal? Anybody who has attempted to change bureaucratic viewpoints will gladly
testify to officialdom’s unwillingness to listen. Public nakedness was particularly
problematic for officials because the honesty of nakedness is the antithesis of bureaucratic
repression. Correspondence with bureaucrats was futile. Naked protests were the inevitable
pathway for Skin Freedom. Every bureaucrat contacted was unwilling to address this
issue therefore this battle for nakedness rights was initially titled The Campaign
For The Destruction Of Society. Inhuman-capitalist-bureaucracy prompted a defiant
campaign name. Public nakedness is about expressing your humanness therefore the
phrase “Destroy Society” was born because a society that persecutes naked people
is very inhuman. Widespread skin freedom (humanness) will inevitably cause the destruction
of our inhuman society. Public nakedness is a natural antidote to cruel social mechanics
of an inhuman civilisation.
6th June 1998 was the date of Vincent’s first naked protest, which took place at
Piccadilly Circus London where Vincent was arrested but not charged. July 1998 at
the Houses of Parliament was when Vincent and three other protesters stripped naked:
they where all arrested but released a short time later when the police dropped all
charges. After four additional solo protests at various locations in central London
Vincent concluded the protesting of 1998 in August, with a protest where he stripped
naked in the National Gallery (London) and painted a pound sign (£) onto a Rembrandt
●POUND SIGN PROTEST. Inhuman Culture Attacked. 4th Aug 1998, National Gallery,
Vincent Bethell painted a pound sign (£) onto a Rembrandt self-portrait to highlight
neurotic self-phobia prevalent within our alienated society. The unreality of nudity
in films and art is acceptable whereas real humans in real life are prohibited. It’s
very neurotic to prohibit nakedness in real life, only allowing it in unreal, alienated
formats. Materialism reveals how civilisation alienates and represses humanity. Money
corrupts. Material inequality (an imbalance of wealth) arises when the profundity
of human existence is ignored. Money is power therefore a pound sign painted onto
Rembrandt highlighted the inhuman (materialistic) inequality of power regarding true
human existence. The pound sign illustrated the inequality of power which prohibits
our right to be naked in real life. This was a real human verses unreal art. The
profundity of human existence was reasserted. This pound sign painted by a naked
protester was an existential triumph over the dehumanising aspect of art, clothes,
society, culture. The Rembrandt in question was a self-portrait and Rembrandt was
fully clothed. This protest was naked existentialism verses blatant materialism (alienation).
Another point to note is during the subsequent court case the painting was valued
at £66 million. Sadly a drab and ignorant Rembrandt was deemed more valuable than
real, very self aware, human life. Vincent was sentenced to 8 weeks in prison for
damaging the Rembrandt. Vincent asserts he was repairing damage done to Humanity.
Diplomatically Vincent has subsequently refrained from causing “criminal damage.”
Vincent created The Freedom To Be Yourself campaign in 1999. References to destroying
an inhuman society were diplomatically phased out. The Freedom To Be Yourself slogan
expressed the positivity of nakedness. The first protest of 1999 was on 8th June
at Buckingham Palace: 5 People protested, 4 were arrested, and the police did not
press charges. Protesters from TFTBY attended Carnival Against Capitalism (June 18th
1999), which was frightening because a stockbroker launched an unprovoked attack
on Vincent and smashed a “PROTEST NAKED” placard. A protest on 28th July 1999 at
the Royal Courts of Justice was very important because this was the first occasion
when a female protester stripped naked (a total of 5 people protested at the Royal
Courts of Justice). A protest at St.Paul’s Cathedral on 21st August 1999 saw only
one person disrobe (Nick Collier); Vincent did not disrobe due to strict bail conditions
so instead he wore a cardboard box to conceal his nakedness. A protest in Brighton
on 4th of June 2000 was the first time TFTBY achieved front page national news. Next
a protest at New Scotland Yard on 15th July 2000 was important because dedicated
activist Russell Higgs became involved (activists: Russell, Vincent, Ash Eldritch,
and Tony Pitman were all arrested and charged with disorderly behaviour relating
to the July 15th protest). On the 13th of August 2000 Vincent took off his clothes
and vowed to remain naked until there was a favourable legal resolution (two women
and six men joined Vincent naked on August 13th but they re-clothed to avoid criminal
charges); Vincent was remanded to the Segregation Unit of Brixton Prison. On 17th
December 2000 Russell Higgs joined Vincent being continuously naked; Russell was
then interred in a Segregation Unit cell next to Vincent.
Vincent made legal history on 10th Jan 2001. He was the first defendant to be naked
in a courtroom throughout a court trial, furthermore he was found not guilty! This
trial was due to the protest on 13th Aug 2000 where Vincent disrobed and vowed to
remain naked until there was a favourable legal resolution. The criminal charge for
this historic court case was: CAUSING A PUBLIC NUISANCE BY REFUSING THE WEAR CLOTHES
ON VARIOUS OCCASIONS BETWEEN THE MONTHS OF JUNE AND AUGUST 2000. After five months
in prison awaiting trial, the abovementioned court case took place at Southwark Crown
Court London and the jury returned their UNANIMOUS VERDICT stating Vincent was not
guilty of any crime. Vincent left court naked but reclothed shortly afterwards. Russell
Higgs was also in prison at this time due to various occasions of public nakedness
throughout December 2000. After Vincent’s acquittal all charges were dropped against
Russell Higgs. 2nd of Feb 2001 saw another court triumph because activists Ash Eldrich,
Russell Higgs, and Tony Pitman had their names cleared on appeal in relation to their
arrests and convictions (disorderly behaviour) from the New Scotland Yard protest
15th July 2000.
1st July 2001 saw the largest protest by The Freedom To Be Yourself. This protest
included 12 protesters (male and female of various ages) walking naked around central
London for 50 mins before the police warned them to re-clothe. Two protesters (Vincent
and Russell) refused to re-clothe thus they were arrested and consequently found
NOT GUILTY at their trial on 2nd October 2001 (Bow Street Magistrates' Court London).
They were charged with Disorderly Behaviour in relation to Section 5 of the Public
Order Act. Clearly a Jury or Magistrates’ court would now most probably find Vincent
and others not guilty for being naked in public. Despite these legal victories the
police stated verbally (outside court after the 02.10.01 acquittal) they would continue
to arrest naked people. Prejudice towards naked human skin is boundless.
The Freedom To Be Yourself has influenced the Naked Rambler Steve Gough. Prior to
Steve's first naked hike in 2003, Steve visited Vincent for advice about the law
and the media. Vincent initially supported Steve but it quickly it became clear Steve
is primarily interested in being a celebrity. Vincent Bethell is no longer connected
in anyway to Steve Gough and Vincent does not endorse Steve's activities. Steve is
a former member of the Moonies religious cult but he was kicked out of the Moonies
due to his excessive sexual activity. Vincent Bethell considers Steve to be an attention
seeker who is using public nakedness to enhance his ego. Mr Gough has also on one
occasion expressed the view that there is nothing wrong with sex in public. Despite
Vincent's wishes Steve Gough and his supporters have hijacked The Freedom To Be Yourself
campaign name. Vincent believes that although Steve does believe in public nakedness
he is primarily using public nakedness to gain fame and fortune, which is somewhat
proved by the fact that he (and a naturist: Richard Collins) willingly took part
in a fashion shoot promoting clothes to the approximate value of £8000. The fashion
shoot was in a major national newspaper, and it is somewhat ironic that Steve should
use public nakedness to advertise clothes. Steve Gough has also been quoted in the
media saying that if everybody was forced to be naked he would then protest for the
right to wear clothes, which implies he doesn’t have a fundamental interest in nakedness.
We seek FREEDOM to uncover all our skin... IN ALL PUBLIC PLACES.
SKIN FREEDOM is for the human race, for humanity, for every-BODY.
Vincent Bethell founded The Freedom To Be Yourself in 1999, and then in 2003 he renamed
the campaign: STOP RACIST HUMAN SKIN PHOBIA. This ultimate campaign name clearly
highlights the prejudice towards unclothed skin. Our race is the key issue regarding
public nakedness. Prohibition of publicly naked skin is comparable to black people
being persecuted because of their black skin. Criminalisation of our naked skin is
racism (racial hatred) towards the human race. Persecution of naked people is discrimination
based on the genetic visual identity of the human body. Members of the human race
are persecuted because of their skin irrespective of colour! We want everybody to
have the freedom to choose public nakedness. Compulsory clothing prohibits free-choice.
People who think naked human flesh is disgusting or offensive are prejudiced by their
own feelings about their own bodies. No rational explanation exists for the non-sexual
naked human body being offensive. The offensiveness of nakedness is a phobia. Phobias
often become hate, which entails persecution. Haters are consumed by irrational fears.
Haters of naked skin are terrified their own disgusting identities will be exposed.
Self-hatred causes clothed-humans to hate naked-humans. Self-hatred is the reason
why publicly naked humans are sometimes imprisoned. SKIN FREEDOM rejects racist-human-self-hatred.
Self-hate and self-disgust cause clothed people (who hide their naked racial identity)
to persecute brave humans who proudly bare their skin. This is about the human race,
it’s not about seeking-attention or trying to become famous. It’s about all our bodies.
We seek skin freedom for EVERY BODY!
Vincent Bethell has never described himself as a naturist or a nudist. Vincent considers
such labels damaging to message of skin freedom for every-BODY. This issue concerns
the entire human race. This is about unity: one race, every body, no clothes. This
is about our common racial identity: Skin Freedom for the Human Race. Divisive labels
such as: nudist, streaker, stripper, or naturist stem from fear and hate therefore
these labels are detrimental to this cause. Even the word naked is a negative word
but until nakedness becomes natural it is necessary use the word naked. Divisive
labels regarding the unclothed human body are tantamount to calling a black person
the N-word. We are simply humans; our true state is with FREE SKIN. This skin freedom
issue is applicable to all humans. We are not concerned with sub-groups or specific
individuals. We seek skin freedom for the entire human race because all humans belong
to one race - the human race - and we all have a genetically determined racial human
identity. This is our unifying commonality. We are all human underneath our clothes.
August 2001 - Present. Vincent suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression,
and anxiety due periods of imprisonment regarding his naked protests. Solo public
nakedness is stressful due to the intense public attention. Various occasions of
solitary public nakedness combined with harsh prison conditions have caused severely
debilitating despair for Vincent. The emotional strain finally became too great.
Vincent is undergoing an indefinite period of recovery. Hopefully one day he will
find equanimity regarding the tribulations of prison. Vincent began protesting due
to a deep sense of futility regarding civilisation; his mental anguish is now extreme.
Lack of mass support also caused Vincent to retire from the public eye.