Leave Us Alone!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Senate Bill 16 Update

The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony regarding Senate Bill 16 last Thursday, and is scheduled to hold another hearing on the bill on Wednesday, according to the House Committee Schedule.

Some dancers have formed a group called Dancers for Democracy, which is scheduled to hold a press conference tomorrow morning at 10:00. Progress Ohio has the details.

If you have not yet contacted your state representative, please do so. Stop The House has a petition you can sign. If you prefer to compose your own message, you can find your representative's contact information here. Here are some points to make:
  1. Bad for Neighborhoods: Senate Bill 16 would push adult entertainment out of commercial zones and into residential neighborhoods, where it would be harder to regulate.
  2. Bad for Taxpayers: Adult entertainment generates $250 million in economic activity in Ohio. If local governments lose the tax revenue from this economic activity, some of them will have to make up the shortfall, probably by raising taxes.
  3. Bad for Cities: Local governments already have the power to regulate strip clubs. Senate Bill 16 would take this power away by setting a statewide standard that might or might not be right for each individual community.
  4. Bad for Ohio: For the above reasons, Senate Bill 16 is bad for all Ohioans, including those of us who have no interest in the adult entertainment industry.

Aaron Marshall of The Plain Dealer reports that Governor Strickland has not decided whether to sign or veto the bill. Please contact Governor Strickland and ask him to veto Senate Bill 16 if it reaches his desk. Go here to find the governor's contact information

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Aid Elimination Penalty Update

Last week, I posted an action alert from the Students for Sensible Drug Policy regarding the aid elimination penalty, which bars students with drug convictions from receiving federal student aid. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee is considering an amendment to the Higher Education Act that would eliminate the penalty. According to Pete Guither of Drug WarRant, the committee could vote on the amendment late this week or early next week. Ohio's own Senator Sherrod Brown is on the committee. Here is a complete list of HELP Committee members:
Kennedy, Edward (MA) , Chairman
Dodd, Christopher (CT)
Harkin, Tom (IA)
Mikulski, Barbara (MD)
Bingaman, Jeff (NM)
Murray, Patty (WA)
Reed, John (RI)
Clinton, Hillary (NY)
Obama, Barack (IL)
Sanders, Bernard (VT)
Brown, Sherrod (OH)
Enzi, Michael (WY), Ranking Member
Gregg, Judd (NH)
Alexander, Lamar (TN)
Burr, Richard (NC)
Isakson, Johnny (GA)
Murkowski, Lisa (AK)
Hatch, Orrin (UT)
Roberts, Pat (KS)
Allard, A. (CO)
Coburn, Tom (OK)

Three names on that list stand out. Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are running for president, and Senator Chris Dodd seems to think he's running for president. If you're a likely voter in next year's Democratic primaries or caucuses, please call Senators Clinton, Obama, and Dodd and tell them to vote to repeal the aid elimination penalty. Here's a sample script from the SSDP:
* When the receptionist in your senator's office answers the phone, politely say something like: "My name is [YOUR NAME] and I live in [YOUR CITY]. When the HELP Committee revises the Higher Education Act soon, I hope that the senator will make sure to get rid of the harmful and unfair law that takes away financial aid from college students with drug convictions. This law causes more, not less, drug abuse by blocking access to education."

All senators' offices can be reached through the Capitol Hill switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Senate Bill 16 - Bad for Neighborhoods, Bad for Ohio

In this post (link probably NSFW), an adult entertainer by the name of Strippergreyson predicts that Senate Bill 16 would lead to more adult entertainment in private residences:
Well, it looks like a win for private dancers such as myself. The US Supreme Court has already stated that governments cannot ban adult entertainment. All this will do is close clubs and push dancers into private homes.

There is only one problem with that for the CCV. It is understood that constitutional freedoms are even stronger and open to less regulation in a private residence.

Like I said, dancers will flee the clubs like rats from a sinking ship if the money dries up. They will simply follow the money to private parties in private homes.
(link via Technorati)
Strippergreyson is probably right. Vice laws don't make vice go away, they just push it underground or behind closed doors, and S.B. 16 would be no exception. The movement of adult entertainment into private residences is disturbing for a couple of reasons.

First, I seem to remember a recent case out of Durham, North Carolina that involved exotic dancing at a party in a private residence. You might have read or heard something about that case. It attracted a fair bit of media attention.

It would be disingenuous to argue that adult entertainment in a private residence proximately caused the Duke lacrosse debacle. It had more to do with a complainant who lied and a prosecutor who withheld exculpatory evidence. And yet, had the Duke lacrosse players gone to a strip club rather than held a private party, things would have been better for all concerned. First, there would probably not have been any underage drinking. Licensed establishments take the prevention of underage drinking very seriously. Otherwise, they don't stay licensed for long. Second, there would have been a lot of disinterested eyewitnesses around. Third, strip clubs have bouncers, so strip club patrons who get out of hand are removed from the premises.

Another problem with the proliferation of residential adult entertainment that likely would result from Senate Bill 16 is the negative effect on neighborhoods. I don't think I'd want one of my neighbors regularly holding adult entertainment parties in my neighborhood, making noise and taking up all of the street parking. S.B. 16 would make such a scenario more likely than it is now.

You can help prevent the proliferation of adult entertainment in residential neighborhoods. Please tell your state representative to vote NO on Senate Bill 16. Go here to find your representative's contact information.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Act Now to Stop Senate Bill 16

(Scroll down for update.)

If you live in Ohio, please contact your state representative today and tell him or her to vote NO on Senate Bill 16. It's not just bad for strip clubs; it's bad for all Ohioans. The Ohio General Assembly makes it easy to find your representative's contact information here.

On Tuesday, the Ohio Senate approved Senate Bill 16, which would place new restrictions on strip clubs and other adult entertainment establishments. Aaron Marshall of the Plain Dealer reports:
A bill that would effectively end the strip club world as we know it in Ohio passed the Senate Tuesday afternoon in a 24-8 vote.

Senate Bill 16 was proposed by an initiative petition filed by the Citizens for Community Values, a Cincinnati-area group that successfully pushed the gay marriage ban in Ohio. The bill was approved 7-1 Tuesday morning by the Senate's State and Local Government Committee.

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives. Every Ohioan, even those of us who aren't strip club patrons, should oppose this bill. Here are some points to consider:
  • The organization pushing S.B. 16 is led by self-proclaimed former porn addict Phil Burress. I guess Mr. Burress has trouble conducting himself responsibly when it comes to sexual matters, and so he figures the rest of us do too. As Aleister Crowley said, "The Prohibitionist must always be a person of no moral character; for he cannot even conceive of the possibility of a man capable of resisting temptation."
  • The adult entertainment industry generates $250 million per year in Ohio, according to Angelina Spencer, who testified in committee against Senate Bill 16. If this economic activity is eliminated, state and local governments will lose tax revenue, and will probably have to raise your taxes to make up the shortfall. If S.B. 16 becomes law, hold onto your wallet!
  • Ms. Spencer also stated that adult entertainment employs 10,000 people in Ohio. The last time I checked, Ohio didn't have 10,000 extra jobs waiting to be filled. More excerpts from Ms. Spencer's testimony can be found at the Progress Ohio blog.
  • At Writes Like She Talks, Jill Miller Zimon attacks S.B. 16 on local home-rule grounds. Ms. Zimon points out that the General Assembly just gave townships the power to regulate strip clubs last August, and now is poised to take that power away by setting a statewide standard.
  • If S.B. 16 becomes law, an exotic dancer who gets within 6 feet of a customer would be committing a first-degree misdemeanor. Some other first-degree misdemeanors in Ohio are assault, theft, domestic violence, aggravated menacing, and negligent homicide. It's more than a little ridiculous to put a stripper getting too close to a customer in the same league with such fairly serious crimes.
  • S.B. 16 would be futile. Prostitution is illegal in Ohio, but you wouldn't know it by looking at the advertisements in the back pages of the Scene, the Free Times, or other alternative weeklies. If police can't enforce laws against prostitution, what makes anyone think they'll be able to enforce S.B. 16?
  • S.B. 16 won't keep Ohioans from attending strip clubs. Ohio strip club customers would just go out of state, just as Ohio casino customers currently do. No part of Ohio is more than half a day's drive away from Canada, which offers not only full-contact exotic dancing (or so I've heard), but also legal prostitution.
  • And speaking of Canada, take a look at these statistics from the Public Health Agency of Canada and compare them to these statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Canada's rates of most of the sexually transmitted diseases that both agencies report are substantially lower than those in the United States. Additionally, Canada has a lower abortion rate than the United States, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute. While correlation doesn't necessarily imply causation, it would seem that Canada's tolerant attitude toward sex work isn't causing too much harm to the health or morals of Canadians.
  • Finally, and probably most importantly, if you don't like strip clubs, you don't have to go to them. Consenting adults should be free to choose whether and under what conditions they operate, patronize, or work in strip clubs. The State of Ohio has no business making that choice for its citizens.

If you live in Ohio, please contact your state representative today and tell him or her to vote NO on Senate Bill 16. It's not just bad for strip clubs; it's bad for all Ohioans. The Ohio General Assembly makes it easy to find your representative's contact information here.

UPDATE: Daniel Jack Williamson makes a great point in the comments section on this post at Writes Like She Talks. Mr. Williamson points out how S.B. 16 might actually increase prostitution. As Mr. Williamson states, "Those that support this bill haven't understood that more "restrictive" does not equal more effective." If you're on the fence on this, please read Mr. Williamson's entire comment.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Supreme Court Upholds Federal Ban on "Partial Birth" Abortion

Mark Sherman of the Associated Press reports:
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court upheld the nationwide ban on a controversial abortion procedure Wednesday, handing abortion opponents the long- awaited victory they expected from a more conservative bench.

The 5-4 ruling said the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act that Congress passed and President Bush signed into law in 2003 does not violate a woman's constitutional right to an abortion.

The opponents of the act "have not demonstrated that the Act would be unconstitutional in a large fraction of relevant cases," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.

The decision pitted the court's conservatives against its liberals, with President Bush's two appointees, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, siding with the majority.

(entire article here)

If you voted for Ralph Nader in 2000, especially if you live in Florida or New Hampshire, I hope you're proud of what you helped to accomplish.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Urgent Action Alert from the SSDP

Here's an e-mail I received today from the Students for Sensible Drug Policy:
As a resident of OH, you can play a huge role in helping Students for Sensible Drug Policy overturn the harmful and unfair law that strips financial aid from college students with drug convictions.

That's because Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is a member of the committee that will be deciding whether to get rid of or keep the aid elimination penalty THIS WEEK!

Thousands of people from all across the country have taken action in our nearly decade-long campaign to repeal this law, but now you and other supporters in OH can help us ensure victory and reinstate financial aid to hundreds of thousands of students.

There are two easy things you can do to help:

1) Members of the Senate HELP Committee need to hear that constituents like you support repealing the penalty, so please speak your mind by making a phone call to your senator's office today.

* Dial the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. When the operator answers, ask to be connected with the office of Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

* When the receptionist in your senator's office answers the phone, politely say something like: "My name is [YOUR NAME] and I live in [YOUR CITY]. When the HELP Committee revises the Higher Education Act soon, I hope that the senator will make sure to get rid of the harmful and unfair law that takes away financial aid from college students with drug convictions. This law causes more, not less, drug abuse by blocking access to education."

2) Once you've made a call, please take another 30 seconds to follow up by sending a pre-written e-mail to your legislators on Capitol Hill. We've made it as easy as possible for you to help; all you have to do is visit http://www.SchoolsNotPrisons.com/help/ and enter your contact information.

This is our best chance to overturn the aid elimination penalty since it was enacted in 1998, so please forward this message to all your friends and family so they can take action too.

I checked Thomas, which doesn't show any action on this, so I hope I'm not too late. If you live in Ohio, please call Senator Brown's office as soon as possible and tell him to vote to get rid of the harmful and unfair law that takes away financial aid from college students with drug convictions. For those of you in other states, here's a link to the SSDP's action alert.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Using the Dead to Make a Point

The victims of the shooting earlier today in Blacksburg haven't been dead for a full day, and already Paul Helmke of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Self Defense Gun Violence can't wait to use them to score political points. Here's an excerpt from a quote by Mr. Helmke in a Brady Campaign press release:
"...we've done nothing as a country to end gun violence in our schools and communities. If anything, we've made it easier to access powerful weapons.

"We have now seen another horrible tragedy that will never be forgotten. It is long overdue for us to take some common-sense actions to prevent tragedies like this from continuing to occur."

Contrast the Brady Campaign's exploitation of this horrible crime with this statement from the National Rifle Association:
The National Rifle Association joins the entire country in expressing our deepest condolences to the families of Virginia Tech University and everyone else affected by this horrible tragedy.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families.

We will not have further comment until all the facts are known.

I'm almost always up for a spirited debate on gun control, but now really isn't the time. Now is the time to mourn the dead and keep those they left behind in our thoughts.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Mom's Column

My favorite elected official's quarterly newspaper column recently appeared in several fine publications throughout southern Ohio, including the Lawrence Herald and the Community Press.

Monday, April 02, 2007

How Does an Asshole Walk his Dog?

Go here to find the answer. (link via Brewed Fresh Daily)