We pretty much have the right to go barefoot, just as we have the right to wear a hat or not, or dye our hair green, or wear goth clothing, or get a tattoo. As a general observation, there are few if any rules against it. As the Society for Barefoot Living has shown, no state health department requires shoes in public buildings or restaurants (though there are just a few scattered municipalities that ban bare feet).
But bare feet are different than hat-wearing or tattoos. Going barefooted can result in bans. We’ve seen it at various businesses: you can go barefoot there, but then if somebody with a bug up their butt sees you, you can suddenly be banned. It’s a case of using the right results in losing the right.
It also happens with governmental entities. Libraries are the worst. In fact, not long after I started using the Stark County Public Library barefoot, their Board of Directors passed a resolution banning them, and there’s really not much we can do about it. It’s not as if my presence there barefooted caused any problems. It’s just that they seem to revel in their power to do whatever they want.
Now the Ohio Statehouse is going the same route. I’ve visited the Statehouse many, many times barefooted over the past 10 years or so. I never had any problem until last June, when I was seen by a State Trooper. He stopped me, being sure there was a rule against it (there wasn’t). He also got quite indignant that I even suggested that there was no rule, and he brought in his smarmy Sergeant. Eventually, they called the folks in charge of the Statehouse, and were told that there was no such rule. They let me go (reluctantly!).
But they are now getting even. I used my right, so now I have to lose my right. The Statehouse is now going through the administrative procedures to put a ban on bare feet into the Ohio Administrative Code (the first such reference). However, while the Board for the Statehouse has passed their ordinance, it still must go through a special process, and we have a chance of stopping it (while I say we have a chance, I don’t know just how large that chance is).
We might be able to change the mind of their Executive Director, or we may be able to change the minds of enough Board members as the rule makes its way through the approval process.
What that means, though, is that people need to write letters opposing the rule change. I’ve put together a web page explaining what everybody needs to do. That web page is here. We would greatly appreciate it if you would write the letters called for there.
Otherwise, it will be just another instance of somebody using their right to go barefoot, and then losing it.
(If you do write a letter, it would help if you let us know. Either leave a comment, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.)