Saturday, January 08, 2005

They're picking up bad vibrations

"Vibrators 60% off! Everything must go!"

That's one sign you'll never see in Alabama if the state's ban on sex toy sales remains in force. The law's six-year odyssey through the federal judiciary will have one final stop if the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear store owners' appeal of a ruling that upheld the ban as constitutional. A plaintiff's lawyer said he should know by next month whether the nation's highest court will review the case.

The state attorney general's office has devoted way too many public resources to defending the ban on selling "any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs." That's especially true when you consider that the 1998 obscenity law's legislative sponsor apparently lost interest in the sex toys provision long ago.

In addition, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision to uphold the ban appears inconsistent with the core principles of the Supreme Court's 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas, the case that declared a discriminatory anti-sodomy law unconstitutional and recognized that "[t]he state cannot demean [people's] existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime." There's also the little matter of how the ban, as U.S. District Judge Lynwood Smith wrote, seems to have "no rational relation to a legitimate state interest," but we'll save that argument for another day.

It's fine if Alabama wants to restrict the sale of sex toys to certain areas, but a blanket ban is excessive and illogical, especially since it's still perfectly legal for Alabamians to own the toys. Quite simply, we have better things to do than waste tax money on fighting fake penises.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm wondering why and how far you believe that it's OK to have the state restrict the sale of sex toys in certain areas? Do you mean banning the sale of them near schools or churches, or in entire counties.

As I've noted in my blog (and I won't be a hyperlink whore here, but you may want to link to it), I'm against any restrictions on the sale of sex toys, except near schools and churches. Over here in Cartersville, Ga., the county shut down the sex shop that just opened, but becasue they were zoned as commercial property and not industrial, as the specific ordinance says an adult novelty shop must be. Why a sex shop must be in an industrial zone, I'm not sure...maybe the vibrators are industrial strength?

Back onto the county-ban possibility. If the state allows counties to make up their own minds about sex shops, won't that mean that all the voters in the state could possibly decide whether sex shops will be allowed in Conecuh county, or not allowed in Crenshaw?


2:14 AM  
Blogger Alabamian said...

Restrictions near schools and churches would be fine with me, as well as limitations to certain zones, be they commercial, industrial, or whatever else the city council or county commission wants to call them.

Excellent point about the county-wide bans. Because of the Alabama Constitution's lack of home rule, you could have people who live 200 miles away blocking these shops in counties where a majority of people are OK with them, just as you often have situations like people in Huntsville voting on tax increases that would only affect people in Mobile. That's too intrusive, too undemocratic, and too nonsensical, and it's reason No. 1,293,289 that we need constitutional reform in Alabama. Unfortunately, we're probably years from that.

3:20 AM  

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