Many of us have been watching closely as the city of Springfield Missouri decides what direction they will take in regulating the act of body suspension. As the situation unfolds, it seems that more and more people are stepping in to write these rules and regulations that have little to no understanding of what it is we do. The reality is that body suspension for many is so foreign and so beyond what they view as normal, that they will never be able to see the same beauty in it that we all do. Unfortunately, it is from this outsider’s view that decisions are being made that may very well tell those in Springfield how and where they can choose to take part in this incredible experience.
You may remember from our first post on the events taking place in Springfield, that this began with Aaron King, who witnessed body suspension taking place in a neighboring yard and has since sought to ban body suspension from public view. It is certainly a slippery slope to tread on, and I am sure the city council members are aware of the many doors this could open with neighbors who might disagree with the lifestyle choices of those around them. The current proposal that the city council is considering putting into place would require all adjoining property owners to sign a consent form, as well as permission from at least half of the property owners within 185 feet of the property that are non adjoining in order to be able to perform body suspension in public view, which includes private property. Along with seeking permission from the property owners around them, they would be banned from performing suspension within 200 feet of a school, church, child care facility or other facility that serves children under 18 years of age. Even as the many problems with this set of guidelines were being pointed out at the recent city council meeting, the members were adding to the list of restrictions to place on those in the body suspension community.
The most recent addition, and perhaps the most disturbing, was the mention of making an amendment to ban any minors from attending a suspension meet. The idea of a child being around body suspension was compared to child abuse by one council member according to a local news source. In a world full of bad influences, I find it incredibly upsetting that an enviroment which promotes trust, love, friendship, kindness, and respect toward one another could be seen as abusive. Although other council members disagreed with banning minors from witnessing suspension, the addition currently could state that any minor would need written permission from a parent to attend a body suspension meeting. The list of problems with this regulation could go on for miles. What happens when a neighbor decides that their child being exposed to the same sex couple holding hands next door is indecent and wants to ban it from view? What if one parent consents to their child attending but the other doesn’t, and more importantly, exactly what screening process is used to authenticate if this written permission is in fact from a parent or legal guardian? Will the city be willing to take on the financial burden of creating the documents necessary to fulfill these requirements, and then appointing someone to the position responsible for overseeing it? Should this pass, I have a feeling that there will be so many unanswered questions and issues to address that the city council will be tied up if fixing what they have created for longer than they realize.
At this point there isn’t much to be done other than waiting to see what the next step will be as revision after revision is made and new issues are addressed. There have been several comments about letter writing or otherwise contacting the city council to express opinions about the matter. Please keep in mind, that this is something that can help or hinder the situation. I think that writing to explain the positive side of suspension or your views on the matter in a polite and well worded way could hopefully help to shine a new light on who we are. Likewise, emails that attack the individuals on the council and the decisions they are weighing will do nothing but confirm any stereotypes they have been given about who we are as a community. We have to keep in mind, they are not intentionally being hostile toward us; they are individuals faced with creating laws about a lifestyle and a practice they don’t understand. Let’s make sure we leave a positive impression on them as they make their decisions.
If you choose to contact the City Council, it is headed by Mayor Jim O’Neal who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org