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  • Writer's pictureSteven Heller

Decency Goes To The Dogs

The Society for Indecency to Naked Animals, or SINA, was a satire on propriety initiated by comedian and prankster Alan Abel from 1959 to 1962. In 1959, he wrote a story about this imaginary decency organization for The Saturday Evening Post that was rejected. Not one to be daunted, he turned the tale into press releases from the organization that grabbed media coverage. The group borrowed the rhetoric of prudes and moralists calling for a movement to clothe naked animals, including pets, barnyard animals and even untamed wildlife. An argument within the bowels of SINA was how large an animal had to be to require clothing. Slogans such as “Decency today means morality tomorrow” and “A nude horse is a rude horse” were offered. In public appearances, writer and actor Buck Henry accepted the role of founder and SINA president, G. Clifford Prout, while Abel played the group’s Mike Pence.

SINA’s fervent supporters, some ready and willing to contribute large sums of money, took the hoax very seriously. SINA falsely claimed tens of thousands of members and published a newsletter. The hoax was exposed when a CBS television news show staffer recognized Henry while broadcasting an interview. A 1963 Time article let the cat out of the baggy trousers. Abel managed to keep the newsletter going for several more years, maintaining the organization’s veracity.The Society for Indecency to Naked Animals hoax was chronicled in Abel’s book, The Great American Hoax, published in 1966. In 1968 director Robert Downey Sr. recorded a rant from the founder of the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals in his classic underground film No More Excuses.

Ahead of culture today many pets are indeed wearing animal couture (coats, sweaters, boots, etc.) and they may have the visionaries at SINA to thank. Woof.

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