Last week the Missouri Supreme Court unanimously voted to uphold new state laws that put heavy restrictions on sexually oriented businesses (SOBs).
As of August last year, the law in Missouri states that:
- Nude dancing is prohibited.
- Sexually oriented businesses, such as adult bookstores and clubs or theaters offering semi-nude entertainment, must close between midnight and 6 a.m.
- Alcohol sales are prohibited in sexually oriented businesses.
- Dancers must perform on elevated stages at a distance from customers. Touching is prohibited.
- Movie viewing in closed booths is prohibited.
Of course, there is both widespread celebration and public outcries.
Club owners challenged the law before it went into effect in August, 2010. Dick Bryant, an attorney for the club owners, said, “We believe the decision is a major erosion of rights of free expression afforded under the constitutions of Missouri and the United States.”
Judge Laura Denvir Stith disagreed. She said these new laws are related to the state’s desire to protect public health and safety. “The act does not ban sexually oriented businesses of any type. Rather, it seeks to reduce negative secondary effects associated with such businesses, including detrimental health and sanitary conditions, prostitution and drug-related crimes both inside and outside these locations, as well as deterioration of the surrounding neighborhoods.”
Phillip Cosby, director of the American Family Association of Kansas and Missouri, said, “Missouri has set the standard for the nation. The gold standard.”
What do you think about the new laws and the court’s ruling?
I’m conflicted about this. As a Christian and a former porn/sex addict, I want to rejoice. As an American who believes in the Constitution, I’m grieved a bit. While I agree as a Christian that every behavior they banned is wrong, as a free people and a free society, people should have the freedom to do what they want (within reason) as long as their freedom doesn’t infringe on the life, liberty, or property of someone else. We cheer because this could be considered in our favor, but what if they decided to make going to church illegal? First amendment cases are such a slippery slope.
@JohnnyChristlike – I agree with you in spirit. First Amendment rights are not to be mishandled. Nonetheless, the the Supreme Court (who has the legal obligation to interpret the Constitution) has always held that obscenity is not protected by freedoms of speech and the press. It has always held to the idea that the government has the right to put limits on how far obscene behavior, speech, and publications can go, and that these limitations are not infringing on civil liberties. I think the Court said it best in 1973 in the case Miller vs. California. ““[T]o equate the free and robust exchange of ideas and political debate with commercial exploitation of obscene material demeans the grand conception of the First Amendment and its high purposes in the historic struggle for freedom. It is a ‘misuse of the great guarantees of free speech and…press.’”
“What do you think about the new laws and the court’s ruling?”
I would not be surprised that a liberal Supreme Court will block this ruling enabling the s8x industry to win.