Social Norms Six Feet Under

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Late nudist Robert Norton just wanted to leave this life as bare-skinned he came into it, but his friends and family don't share his enthusiasm for the human form:

The 82-year-old said he wanted to be buried in his birthday suit—but his family are having none of it.

His brothers have decided to lay him to rest in grey trousers and a shirt.

One of them, Jack, is a minister. "He's not going to be buried in the nude," he said…

Brenda Loete said she never spoke to Norton despite living next door to him for more than a decade.

"We didn't really know him. We just had him arrested," she said.

Whole thing here.

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  1. I can’t believe his familly disrespected him like that. I’m going to walk home naked in protest.

  2. If nude burial is outlawed, then only outlaws will. . . uh. . .

    No, it just doesn’t work in this context.

  3. By the way, I hope the dearly departed was smart enough to specify in his will that his family won’t get a dime unless they honor his wishes in regards to the funeral.

  4. 82 year old
    naked
    man
    next door

    *shudder*

  5. Can I be arrested for walking around inside my house naked but not drawing the shades so that I might be visible to prying eyes?

    Is that different than being naked in my yard?

  6. Is it legal to be naked in my yard if I have a really really tall fence?

  7. There are laws restricting fence height, Tom.

  8. But what if Tom is really short?

  9. Then no-one will know he’s naked!

    /ba-dum

  10. Tis no more than what God gave me ye puritan pukes.

    I admire the, can’t quite think of the word, self-confidence of a 82 year old nude dude. I’m reluctant to even take my shirt off at the beach.

  11. There are laws restricting fence height

    Sigh. What isn’t there a law restricting? Might save some time to just point those things out in the future – I doubt there are many left.

  12. Not everywhere joe. And the last county commissioner who proposed such an ordinance got beat down in his driveway one dark night. And no, I didn’t do it.

  13. burial itself is a religious tradition. so it’s not a stretch to expect it to be carried out in a way specified by religion.

    sure this guy wanted to be buried naked, but who cares how he’s actually buried? not him, he’s dead. if it makes the living people feel better, then what the hell.

    i’m only being half-serious.

  14. Personally, I agree with the guy. I don’t really care if I’m buried naked or not, but I don’t want a coffin. Just thrown me into a hole, cover it up with some dirt and let the worms have at it. I can understand the theory that the funeral arrangements are more for the living than the deceased, but I would like to think my family would repsect a last wish.

  15. Can you bequeth (is that the right word?) your corpse to whoever you want in your will? It seems like you should be able to. You won’t be using it when you are dead just like you won’t use your stuff. If you are aloud to; this guy could have willed his corpse to a fellow nudist who shared his belief that it is good to be buried naked.

  16. The “can I walk around naked with the shades open” question is actually kind of interesting. It’s your property, but someone could plausibly argue that it’s still indecent exposure. Anyone know what the law is?

    PS- No, I don’t walk around naked at home. Nor do I plan to start.

  17. Can you bequeth (is that the right word?) your corpse to whoever you want in your will?

    Doing so would certainly end the necrophilia ban debate that California had awhile back…

  18. Anyone know what the law is?

    I seem to recall, 10+ years ago, hearing of a case where a married couple having sex in their bedroom were busted for indecent exposure because a guy with a video camera peering in a window could see them reflected in a mirror.

    Anyone remember that story?

  19. Doing so would certainly end the necrophilia ban debate that California had awhile back

    Not necessarily. States routinely limit what you can do with your own property.

  20. “The “can I walk around naked with the shades open” question is actually kind of interesting.”

    I had always assumed that you can do what you want in your own apartment. You have a reasonable expectation of privacy in that people shouldn’t be peering in your windows anyway. Right? I was wondering about this recently…

  21. linguist, your reasonable expectation of privacy ends when you are in a place that you know, or should know, is visible from a public place or abutting private property.

    If you do a Pressed Fruit on the window of your front room, that’s not very private.

  22. A couple of years ago a friend of my mother’s in Massachusetts held an old-fashioned wake for her husband. They actually brought the body back from the hospital, unembalmed, and had it laid out in an open casket in the livingroom, so friends and family could gather to eat, drink and pay their last respects. I was quite surprised, since I didn’t think this sort of thing was legal anymore, but apparently in Massachusetts it is.

  23. Joe,

    I have no idea what a “pressed fruit” is. But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that I live on a main street and my bedroom windows face that street. If I sleep in the nude, and get up to run to the bathroom without first lowering the shades, I could seriously be arrested for indecent exposure?

    Just hypothetical, of course.

  24. There are laws restricting window sizes, joe.

  25. “There are laws restricting window sizes, joe.”

    Hmm. What’s the relevance of that?

  26. “If you do a Pressed Fruit on the window of your front room, that’s not very private.”

    What about if Im vaccuming or dusting? The pressed fruit example seems to imply an intent to expose myself. But what if I am doing other “normal” activities and happen to go past a window or balcony door in the process?

  27. Linguist,

    None.

  28. As it happens, I do live on Main Street downtown. Perhaps a little experiment is in order.

    Or not.

  29. sage,
    So, was it supposed to be a joke?

    ChicagoTom,
    That’s exactly the same sort of instance I’m wondering about.

  30. There are laws restricting fence height, Tom.

    Comment by: joe at August 5, 2005 04:02 PM

    It wouldn’t surprise me if MA had a law about that, but in my neck o’ the woods, it’s merely a covenant. I can build an 8 foot fence, and if my neighbors don’t like it, their recourse is to sue me. It’s not a law.

  31. well i personally am not of the opinion that the common good is at all served by keeping kids from seeing people fucking in their homes.

    in fact, if we’re going to pass a law mandating what people do while naked in their homes, why not do some actual good with it? i propose a law requiring women in their 20’s of a specified (low) body mass index to walk around naked in their homes with the blinds open at least one night a week.

  32. Not necessarily. States routinely limit what you can do with your own property.

    IIRC, the debate was over whether one of the employees of the mortuary had broken a law by engaging in such an act. If the body of the deceased belongs to a family member, then it’s unlikely that they’d grant permission to someone to…oh screw it. I’ve just creeped myself out.

  33. If the body of the deceased belongs to a family member, then it’s unlikely that they’d grant permission to someone to…oh screw it.

    haha, i think you just accidentally said what you were trying not to say.

  34. linguist,

    It depends on how puritan the city government is. But I suggest you try it — complete with pictures — and post the whole thing here as an experiment.

    It probably depends a lot on the neighbors. I’ve seen a few of my neighbors topless out in their yards before. No way I’m calling the cops about that.

  35. What kmw said. Probably has much more to do with the people around you and their tolerance of it, than anything else.

  36. Zach, for the sake of my fragile psyche and over-active imagination, I’m simply going to pretend like I never read your post.

  37. Maude: Gertie, It’s disgusting. Did you see how Robert was dressed for his funeral.

    Gertrude: Yes, Maude, I did. You would think the family would have had that suit pressed!

  38. LOL, brilliant.

  39. You have to admire the spitefulness of family members who would ignore their own brother’s last wishes out of sheer prudery, placing him in clothing he didn’t want just to seal him in a box so he, clothing and box can all rot away. That’s real hatred, there.

  40. Should I point out that this is in Britain, not the US? So who’s the most puritanical?

    There’s a huge hippie culture in my area, and it isn’t unusual to see people nude in public, especially when a protest breaks out. If they get arrested, it wasn’t for the nudity.

  41. A distant uncle of mine died a few years back. He was not fond of his family for various reasons real and perceived. He was not a wealthy man, but he swore that none of his rotten kids would get one red cent from him. After the funeral they found out that months before he died he had cleaned out his bank account. No one knew what he did with the cash. They searched everywhere for it. Under floorboards, in the attic, they even dug up the backyard – nothing. Then his daughter, who was taking care of him at the time, remembered him asking for a needle and thread one night. Near as anybody can figure he sewed the cash into the lining of the suit he was buried in. Proving you can indeed take it with you. Too bad the naked guy didn’t have that option. Sounds like his family sucks too.

  42. What about a shroud of something? Slip it over for the wake, then yank the shroud out of coffin before closing it.

  43. If the neighbors were so offended by the bloke next door gardening in the buff why didn’t they build a fence? If the city doesn’t want everyone to see him naked they could easily build a privacy fence on the road side, but I suppose it’s more important to keep the citizenry in their place.

    As far as the family goes, I hope they get buried in the nude. Oh and put Rev. Jack in a glass coffin with his tally whacker in his hand while we’re at it, the prig.

  44. well i personally am not of the opinion that the common good is at all served by keeping kids from seeing people fucking in their homes.

    [Donning Angry Objectivist hat]

    Well I for one don’t see why the right of some nubile young woman to go about her business in the nude should be sacrificed on the altar of altruism for some perceived collective “right” of the masses to be “protected.” A gaggle of people don’t have any more rights than a single individual, and to stifle the right of a beatiful, free-thinking young woman in this manner is an egregious breach of her inherent need to bring value to the individual.

    [Removes Angry Objectivist hat]

    [clears throat]

    How’d I do?

  45. Media,
    The putting on and removal of the hat seems at odds with the nature of the blog item.

  46. If Norton had been half as bright as Ralph Kramden’s side-kick, he could have donated his succulent bod to the University of Sinincincinnati. It would have been welcomed with… open arms?

    “We didn’t really know him. We just had him arrested,” she said.

    Does this sum up what we Reasonoids have to deal with out in that fucked-up land of the living extra-cyberspacials?

  47. 82 year old
    naked
    man
    next door

    *shudder*

    Comment by: mediageek at August 5, 2005 03:54 PM

    shudder

  48. “We didn’t really know him. We just had him arrested,” she said.

    Does this sum up what we Reasonoids have to deal with out in that fucked-up land of the living extra-cyberspacials?

    Sadly, it is coming to sum up what just about anybody not of the “mainstream” can expect. Even if your neighbor has a legitimate beef with your behavior, it seems common that his first response will be not to call you up and try to discuss it over a friendly beer, but to call the cops and “have [you] arrested.”

  49. first response will be not to call you up and try to discuss it over a friendly beer, but to call the cops and “have [you] arrested.”

    Could be the beer they are uptight about. You can never tell with them puritanical types wanting drab existances. Then again, it’s always the neighbor saying “I don’t understand, he was always such a quiet person” as the cops are digging bodies out from under the porch. So what are you wishing for in a neighbor.;-)

  50. Personally, I feel completely naked if I’m not wearing an expensive, well-polished oak coffin.

  51. The putting on and removal of the hat seems at odds with the nature of the blog item.

    Hmmm…yeah, for the original item, I s’pose so. What about for the discussion joe, linguist, and others debating the nature of when nekkidity crosses the line?

    /meh, probably not.

  52. Douglas Fletcher,
    The way to avoid feeling completely naked is to become accustomed to being naked. That way you don’t “feel” it.
    The naked “feeling” should be a much more comfortable/snug fit than a coffin.

    … as I sit up here in my attic in my wool union suit with the trap door.

  53. eric-the-half-a-bee:

    (great mp ref, btw, it took me a while to remember why that was familiar)

    I remember that story, I think it happened in the Tampa Bay (FL) area. I lived about 1.5 hr N of that growing up, and it was a semi-big deal on the local evening news for a few weeks

  54. famous blind jaz musician Rashid Roland Kirk, which is to say no one’s heard of him, wanted to be cremated and have some of his ashes rolled up in a joint and smoked with cannabis but his baptist mother would have none of it and was buried regular like — sad.

  55. media,

    To be really convincing, the young lady would be taken by force.

  56. Should I point out that this is in Britain, not the US? So who’s the most puritanical?

    While the event was reported by a British source (the BBC) the event occurred in Illinois. I suspect that they just found the story amusing and, in a way, interesting. It didn’t quite have the usual “Aren’t those Yanks violent/prudish/aggressive/materialistic?” quality that is common at the Beeb.

    However, you raise a valid point: namely, that people do have misperceptions about social attitudes in other countries. There are plenty of prudes in the rest of the world, particularly Britain.

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