Indecency regulated in the U.S. – but not in Canada
By a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that nude dancers can be prosecuted under public indecency laws and table dancers are required to wear G strings.
The court overturned a ruling that nude dancing was a form of expression entitled to protection under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. At issue was the right of topless and bottomless dancers to perform what they described as entertainment before a willing audience.
The suit arose from a lawsuit by several nude dancers who perform in two clubs in South Bend, Indiana. They argued that Indiana’s public indecency law, which makes the display of erotic zones a misdemeanor, constitutes illegal censorship. But Chief justice William Rehnquist, speaking for the Court’s majority, disagreed. “Enforcement of Indiana’s public indecency law to prevent totally nude dancing does not violate the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of expression,” he stated. “An erotic performance may be presented without nay state interference so long as the performers wear a scant amount of clothing.
Civil liberties groups, denounced the ruling for giving the government more power to censor free expression in the name of public morality. Groups opposing pornography hailed it as a major victory; it gives them a weapon to fight with.
Meanwhile, in Windsor, Ontario, nude dancers attract hundreds of thousands of voyeurs from Detroit every year. Windsor is connected to Detroit by a bridge and tunnel and hundreds of tourists cross into Canada every day, seven days a week, to the bars and hotels which feature naked females dancing on stage and table tops.
Ontario has no restrictions on female dancers.
Guelph, Ontario – (FNIF) Pornography dealers keep operating despite a ruling against selling pornography. Guelph attorney Louise Payne says the city is powerless to stop them. “We have the right to charge for offences. We don’t have the legal ability to go in and seize goods and physically shut down the premises.”
Adult Only Video was charged with zoning infractions following community outrage over the hard-core pornography they sold. They refused to close, so Guelph is taking the owners to court.
Adult Only spokesman Var Pilavakis doesn’t see what the problem is. “From my own point of view, I’ve never thought of sex as being dirty – I don’t think the videos that we have are dirty…
The case will likely go to court this fall.
Winnipeg, Manitoba – FNIF) A Manitoba pornography dealer has told the Supreme Court of Canada that morality violates his rights. Donald Butler’s lawyer George Derwin says the sexually-explicit material his client ells is protected by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“He feels that it’s unconstitutional for the government to legislate morality for morality’s sake,” says Derwin.
Last year a Manitoba Court acquitted Butler of selling obscenity. But the Manitoba Court of Appeal overturned that decision, prompting Butler to take his case to the Supreme Court.
Manitoba’s Group Against Pornography has been fighting Butler from the beginning. Spokesperson Carolyn Keith says there is definite harm caused by sexually-explicit books and videos. “It leads to violence against women and children in particular, and we believe that it plays a large part in rape and in sexual abuse and assault cases.”
Mississauga, Ontario – (FNIF) The Pleasure Palace Video store has for sale and rent to customers over 18 explicit adult videos. Flyers encouraging memberships and “in-store specials” have been distributed throughout the area.
Nearby business owners and residents are fearful that this type of establishment will attract pedophiles and sex offenders. “We have a lot of families and decent people here and we want to keep it that way,” said the owner of a hair salon located near the video store.
A letter of protest has been sent to the Mayor. A petition demanding that the city councilors close the X-rates store has also been presented. The petition indicates “the strength of feeling in community about this issue.”