2 min

A gift for the Barn

A 20-year-old ruling states nudity ain't disorderly conduct

THE PRUDENT WAY OUT. Janko Naglic just canned Naked Nights because the mess was too confusing. Credit: Jan Becker

The Barn’s long awaited court hearing on a “disorderly conduct” charge will be postponed.

“I’m going to ask that it be put off,” says Andrew Czernik, the lawyer for the Barn.

“Nothing will happen. It will probably go to February.”

Czernik says he’s stuck in another trial, and can’t be excused. He expects to make a very brief appearance the morning of Fri, Dec 15 to ask for the switch, which he also expects will be granted.

The Barn was charged by plainclothes police back in March under the Ontario Liquor Licence Act with allowing “disorderly conduct” – for holding a Totally Naked Toronto Men Enjoying Nudity dance on its licensed premises.

The monthly gyrating had been going on for three years without a hitch.

After an outcry, Naglic and TNT MEN were allowed to apply for a special occasion permit and hold another naked dance that was closed to the public. Tickets were sold in advance, and those without the coupons were turned away at the door.

Police went again and threatened Naglic with more charges.

Confusion reigned. Then Naglic was told by police the deal was back on. He announced he didn’t care – no more totally nude nights, because the whole thing was too much of a mess.

But while some cops say that nudity and beer equals “disorderly conduct,” the Alcohol And Gaming Commission has not regulated what it considers the “moral issue” of nudity for years.

It all started in a 1980 ruling named after Moose Creek, Ontario’s Central Hotel.

The lounge employed an exotic dancer who was charged and convicted criminally of “being nude in a public place.” From that, the owners were then accused by liquor inspectors of permitting “disorderly conduct to take place in the licensed premises.”

The booze permit was suspended – but a three-person appeals tribunal was asked to look into whether nudity constitutes “disorderly conduct” under the liquor act.

A chunk from a legal tome, Butterworth’s Words And Phrases Legally Defined, was read out during the hearing.

In their final ruling, the adjudicators announced that “disorderly conduct must have as an ingredient the fact that it causes annoyance to others. In the tribunal’s opinion, one quotation sums up the meaning a court should give to ‘disorderly conduct’: ‘[A]n offence against good manners, a failure of good taste, a breach of morality, even though these may be contrary to the general order of public opinion, is not enough to establish this offence. There must be conduct which not only can fairly be characterized as disorderly, but also is likely to cause a disturbance or to annoy others considerably….”

So nudity does not constitute disorderly conduct, and the liquor charge was dismissed.

The Barn charge has been sent by the police to the courts, rather than the more usual route via the liquor tribunal.