Wed, Jul 07, 2004 - Page 8 News List

The naked truth: streaking is good

By Liu Chin-hsin劉進興

Streaking should be a minor incident, yet it has recently become a national controversy. In the same way that you can see the universe in a grain of sand, in Chang Gung University's over-reaction to the streaking incident we can see why Taiwan cannot break through its own limitations.

When I arrived in the US to study many years ago, two crazy activities were prevalent on campus. One was to see how many people could be squeezed into a car; when people saw a car driving down the street with a dozen pairs of limbs sticking out of its windows, they would cheer. The other was streaking: hundreds of naked men and women would run across campus on a midsummer night, and everyone would clap hands. It was interesting back then, and I regret not having had the courage to join in. Issues of law, discipline or morals were not on my mind.

Why was the Taiwanese streaker treated so harshly with two major and two minor demerits imposed on him? Although TV audiences gave him support over his "detention under surveillance," saying the punishment was too harsh, they also said that he had done wrong. Others even praised him for keeping his word. The real problem is, on what authority did the school give him a demerit? Was it according to the law? Or the school regulations?

"Streaking itself does not include the intention to commit public indecency, and does not constitute an offense against public morals and manners," one prosecutor said. It is like people going to a mountain hot spring to bathe naked in a secluded spot. Although people may pass by, everyone remains in a pleasant mood, and there is no hint of moral indecency or sexual harassment.

Some people have said that streaking may violate the Social Order Maintenance Law (社會秩序維護法). But it's no different from the naked football competition that was held at National Taiwan University last year. It was held at night in the sports stadium with an audience attending of their own free will. The spectators were all extremely happy, and no one violated social order out of feelings of shame or agitation. The accusation cannot be upheld.

According to the "Chang Gung University Student Reward and Punishment Measures," "public indecency" is punished with a major demerit; "offense against public morals and manners" with a minor demerit. Based on the opinions of prosecutors and police experts, streaking does not even warrant a minor demerit. None of the eight conditions for school detention could be used in this case.

For example, can we charge him with "being in possession of a weapon?" What about "insulting or threatening teachers," "causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon," or "joining delinquent gangs or organizations?" All of the above constitute major crimes. Would mere streaking be that serious an incident? At most, the school could only punish him with a warning for "improper dress." That the streaking student was given two major and two minor demerits clearly shows that the school's punishment is based on ideology rather than on school regulations. This is a negative example of the operation of the rule of law.

The school said the punishment it meted out was intended to "correct" the streaker's behavior. But what about the many US campus streakers who, without any form of "correction," went on to become professors, engineers and corporate managers?

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