Use it . . . and then lose it


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


13 Responses to “Use it . . . and then lose it”

  1. Anemone Says:

    I emailed the main person. I’ve forwarded a copy to you, too, but I’ll recap what I said here, too, because it’s important.

    Businesses and services have every legal right to establish and enforce dress codes, and if you don’t want bare feet banned you probably need to get more people hooked on going barefoot, so lots of ordinary citizens get riled up about it.

    In the meantime, if you have medical reasons for going barefoot, and your doctor backs you up, they have to allow you to go barefoot. Otherwise they’re discriminating on the basis of disability, and they can’t do that.

    That’s how I prevailed against the library here. I’m just waiting for the last of the paperwork to go through. . . .

  2. Bob Neinast Says:


    You say that they have every legal right to establish and enforce a dress code.

    This is false. They are a government entity, not a private business. Under state statutes, they are only allowed to do specifically what they have been authorized to do by the state legislature. They have been authorized to “operate” the Statehouse (whatever the heck that means).

    By the way, letters to the Board Members would also be useful.

  3. Anemone Says:

    Ok, then, dress codes are different where you are. And to be perfectly honest I can’t remember if what I read here said anything about where dress codes were allowed. I thought it was pretty much everywhere.

    If more than one letter discussing a real legal snafu is necessary, they need help. My communications skills get worn out pretty quickly talking to absolute strangers like that, so one’s my limit.

  4. Beach Bum Says:

    I wonder how old he is, does he remember the 1960s, and how hard young people fought to abolish dumb dress codes. Today all these freedoms are taken for granted. Is he a republican or democrat? That could drastically influence the tone of the letters we write. Maybe get the ACLU involved. Since this is a government agency, the people should vote and decide, not them.

  5. Bob Neinast Says:

    He looked to me around 55-60, so he should remember the 60s. Carleton has been the Executive Director since 2005, which means he was put in place under Republican Bob Taft, but I’m not sure that matters. His bio also says he’s been working in the property management field for over 30 years. (He also told me that he had always instituted a barefoot rule in all his other buildings.)

    I’ve found the ACLU of Ohio to be useless for barefooting issues.

    Also, don’t forget to also write the Board members. While the letter for Board members should be (slightly) different than the one for Carleton, the same letter can probably be sent to all Board members. While, in practice, they all follow Carleton’s lead, officially they are the ones who vote to make the change. If they all suddenly start getting a lot of letters (please!) they will start asking Carleton questions and that can help.

  6. Beach Bum Says:

    Oh, he’s one of those. Probably was on the “other” side during the 60s and 70s, either that or was such a pothead that is now atoning for his ‘sins’ and trying to make everything ‘prim and proper’…ha ha. Well, I doubt that any letter writing will change anything he wants. Probably is already pre-decided, that ‘run it by board memebers’ is just a fake formality to appear it was done fairly. It’s always about power and control, not about reality. Maybe post the link on Hip Forums, to get more possible people to write, or are there too many of them there that are just too weird? Anyway, I think it is important that the precedents from the past are presented – the Youngstown case of 1968 and the San Francisco case of 1969. Also about how they took the signs down in Boca Raton Florida in 1972. These kinds of people like to see examples of past rulings, I would assume.
    But I doubt that any of it will make a difference. Few of the current generation rebel against anything. They are complacent in the rights of freedom of expression that were acquired by previous generations, generally do not know there were less social and cultural rights and civil liberties before the 70s, and a few rights that are taken away here and there will go unnoticed. You make an interesting point about using your rights now causes you to lose them. Used to be the other way around. But that requires strength in large numbers, and today’s generation is not interested in putting themselves out on the line for what they see is trivial. You would have to have some nicely dressed people, of all ages and gender, go barefoot into such a place several times each day, every day, to totally confuse them. Then if they are given a hard time, each should argue the point. It would have to be treated like a civil disobedience concept. For example, imagine a nicely dressed woman, in expensive clothes, makeup, and jewelry going barefoot in there. Would they give her a hard time? If so, she should politely refuse to deal with them, and remind them of our freedoms and the constitution, etc. And if several times a day someone like that did so, and they spent lots of time kicking people out, which refused to comply and come back in, this might get publicity and they may back down. But then again, the current generation and before voluntarily chooses to not go barefoot. They chose not to use that right for several decades now, so the right was forgotten. And when the very few choose to do it now, the establishment bears down even harder and takes that right away by law.

  7. Anemone Says:

    @Beach Bum,

    I wouldn’t assume that people today choose to not go barefoot. I was actually under the impression that going barefoot was illegal, until I read the New York Magazine article. We really had shoes drummed into us when we were kids.

  8. Bob Neinast Says:

    Beach Bum,

    I tend to agree with you. However, let’s not concede without a fight.

    I’d sure appreciate whatever letters you can send.

    Maybe we can make a difference. I’d hate to not try and then never know if we really had a chance.


  9. Beach Bum Says:

    Yes Bob, I agree we need to try. We will not change the mind of the guy in charge, but will make many of the people that work with him think.
    And most people today DO choose not to go barefoot. Just look at various blogs and discussion groups. The mere mention of going barefoot past the inside of your own house raises a flood of comments of “eeeww!” “gross!” “nasty!”. And a few who may have tried it just say it hurts and is uncomfortable. It’s been out of style for so long now, so uncool, that it’s largely forgotten. Since today’s young people did not go barefoot as kids, it’s almost as if their brains are not ‘wired’ to think that going barefoot feels good at all. And the puzzlement of young Americans and Europeans who go on vacation to the place where it did not go out of style – New Zealand – is very evident. They take pictures of the barefoot people in NZ and post them, with captions like “Barefoot Kiwis – nasty!”. Or comments from Europeans, “can someone explain this to me? They seem to live well and have money, why would they choose to do such a thing!?” When I was a kid, I did not have “shoes drummed into me” – I was surrounded by bare feet everywhere in the US culture, and took it totally for granted. Neighborhood kids and teenagers barefoot all over the town. And the media played up to it, all associating bare feet with freedom and that which feels good, despite the opposition from older conservatives about the appropriateness of doing this in certain public places.
    Commercial for a soft drink, (mountain Dew) “Get that barefoot feeling”, 1969, I think.

    No one would advertise like that today. The reaction from young people would be “barefoot feeling? Huh? Like it hurts and is gross?” Look at several instances of the video that is posted, and the comments – one says “I don’t get why everyone was barefoot”. Very sad.

  10. Anemone Says:

    I went barefoot all the time as a child, but only at the cottage. In the city we had to have shoes. Period. A bus driver who didn’t want to let me on barefoot because she thought it wasn’t safe (but did when I reassured her) then started reminiscing about going barefoot all the time during the summer when she was a young adult, but never in town because she thought it wasn’t safe. I suspect that there are plenty of people who go barefoot all the time on vacation but think they have to wear shoes in town. After all, they never see anyone else doing it, so it must not be allowed.

    Plenty of people do have shoes drummed into them.They don’t choose to wear shoes because, as far as they know, they don’t have a choice. And when the most vocal barefooters are aging hippies who go on and on about freedom in a self-indulgent way when most people these days seem to be more concerned about health and fitness, it’s easy to think they only care about themselves. Which doesn’t come across too well.

    I’m really offended by the tone of arguments I’m seeing here. In a way I hope you lose so you learn something. Mostly because I suspect people oppose the health/medical approach because they’re ableist. Which is hypocritical because it is a health issue.

  11. Daniel Says:

    “Offended by the tone”? What are you talking about? “I hope you lose”? Seriously, who’s side are you on?

  12. Nelipot Says:

    This is the most serious problem I think we face as “barefooters.” Personally, I have found that I can go almost any place barefoot without hassles once or twice, maybe even three or four times. But once the establishment realizes I’m going to keep doing this, I get “the talk” which usually ends with “you need to put on shoes are not come back.”

  13. benny Says:

    i met a lady that was turned away from a concert venue for being barefoot. She was not allowed in even after explaining she had no problems with standing on glass and other things. She had very thick feet with a huge high instep and tough as anything. Hadnt even worn shoes in 20 years. But was wasting her time arguing

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