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Ohio Governor Allows Strip Club Law

A commentary

Ohio Governor Allows Strip Club Law
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Keith Dailey, a spokesperson for Gov. Ted Strickland, said on Tuesday that his boss would allow SB 16, which closes adult businesses between midnight and 6 a.m., and forbids dancers from touching anyone but spouses at their clubs, to become law in late August by, essentially, doing nothing.

Although Strickland had had questions about the clearly-unconstitutional bill's constitutionality during the bill's debate in both legislative chambers, terming such debate "silly" and "comsum[ing] too much time and attention."

Of course, "If he were persuaded it was unconstitutional, he would have vetoed the bill," Dailey said, but since large (Republican) majorities in both houses voted for it, Strickland "won't stand in the way."

So the governor, rather than spending the 15 or so seconds it would take to sign the bill, "wants to focus on the issues that matter the most to most Ohioans," according to an Associated Press report.

And that's where you come in.

We don't have any figures on how many Ohioans patronize adult book and video stores in the course of a year, or how many go to strip clubs, but we're guessing that it's a fairly sizeable number – certainly far more than the paltry 120,000 people who signed Citizens for Community Values' (CCV) petition to put the anti-adult bill before the legislature.

So where does Ted Strickland get off saying that SB 16 isn't one of the "issues that matter the most to most Ohioans"?

It's simple: Because you kept your mouth shut.

In America, it's easy to take for granted that, in any large city, you can walk into a store and pick up a XXX DVD to watch that night, or walk into a dance club and experience a beautiful woman sensuously removing her clothes to a musical beat.

Of course, the truth is very different from that. Many large cities have removed their adult businesses to slums, swamps and industrial parks at the edge of town – places that often aren't even served by public transportation most hours – all in the name of "protecting the kids" or "preventing crime" or "keeping the property values up" or some similar horseshit. And the smaller the city (or town), the more likely the city fathers are to push stores and clubs as far out of town as they can.

You know as well as we do that what the people who tell such lies and make such excuses really want is to shut down all adult businesses because, they say among themselves, "God" wants them to. (Of course, we know what's really going on: Men are so scared shitless that they'll see something that will give them a boner – and that someone else will see them with that boner – and their wives and girlfriends are so scared that some other woman will inspire their guy to a boner, that they all have to keep such material – including dancers – so far away from them that even you won't be able to get a boner, even if you want one.) (There are probably some Freudian control issues at work as well, but you can ask Dr. Marty Klein for insights into that...)

But the real trouble is, even many men who want those boners, and women with an itch they'd like to scratch, have been so propagandized by the anti-sex crowd that they're afraid to admit that they like sex, they like being sexually stimulated, and that they haven't been harmed by this entirely natural desire.

We've been copied on plenty of emails over the past few weeks from Angelina Spencer, executive director of the Association of Club Executives (ACE), exhorting club owners to do whatever they can to get their employees and dancers to attend the committee meetings and legislative sessions where SB 16 and its House equivalent were being discussed, and to express their opposition to that legislation.

But as useful (and somewhat successful) as Angelina's efforts were, they were really directed to the wrong audience. Legislators expect that people who work in the adult industry are going to oppose regulations, especially "silly" ones, directed at that industry, and because of that vested interest, those people are easier to ignore ... just as Gov. Strickland has obviously done.

The crowd she should have tried to reach were the adult business customers – and to be fair, she actually did try to reach them, in that she asked club owners to encourage patrons to attend the hearings also – but it's a crowd that many "adult activists" have already, explicitly or implicitly, given up as a lost cause, precisely because they know how afraid those customers are to admit that they like adult entertainment.

Ask yourself: How many times, when an adult business has been picketed, has there been a line of counter-pickets, supporting the business and the right of free sexual expression? How many times, when some fire-and-brimstone preacher/priest/pastor/rabbi/mullah has railed in a sermon against the evils of pornography, has one of the church/synagogue/mosque attendees gotten up and simply said, "Wait a minute: I watch adult movies (or: I go to strip clubs) and it hasn't hurt me any!"?

But no; you sneak into adult video stores or strip clubs, looking over your shoulder to make sure you haven't been spotted by a neighbor, or you order your videos over the Internet, secure in the thought that your neighbors (or fellow parishioners) won't know what's in that brown-paper parcel that arrives at your door with the regular mail – or better still, you download video clips from the Internet, paying with a credit card after having been assured that the charge on your monthly statement will list a company that doesn't sound as if it has anything to do with "porn." In any case, you pull the shades, turn the sound down low, and get off as silently as possible so no one around you will know that you've satisfied one of the human race's most basic desires and enjoyments: Orgasm.

It's that silence, that sneaking around – that fear – that bottom-feeders like CCV's Phil Burress count on: That when "push comes to shove," you won't stand up for your right to be sexually entertained.

(If we were religious, we'd say "God-given right," because have believers never wondered why humans were "made" with nerve endings in their genitals that deliver pleasure when stimulated? Can they truly believe that God made every part of the human body except the penis and clitoris?)

The sad fact is, yesterday you failed to stand up for the right of the adult book/video store owner and strip club owner to do business anywhere near your neighborhood ... and so they were moved to the hinterlands. Today you failed to stand up for your right to purchase an adult video after midnight, or to get close enough to a dancer to smell her perfumed sweat ... and now, at least in Ohio, you won't be able to ... because Ted Strickland thinks those rights "don't matter ... to most Ohioans."

What will you fail to stand up for tomorrow?

Do we really have to say this?:

"Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it." – Judge Learned Hand, in a speech at "I Am An American Day," Central Park, May 20, 1945.
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Mark Kernes

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