When lawmakers have to choose between protecting our children and protecting the profits of a sexually oriented business, the choice is obvious: Our children’s safety comes first.
An imaginative lawsuit challenging Ohio’s newly enacted Community Defense Act, a law designed to protect children and their neighborhoods, was filed by a gang of porn peddlers who claim the statute somehow violates their rights to “free speech.” The court refused to grant a temporary restraining order against the act, so law and order and common sense is prevailing...at least for now.
Considering the desperate efforts to defeat this measure by those who produce and distribute pornography (who also tried but failed to gather a sufficient number of signatures to subject the law to a statewide referendum), you might think the act must surely impose some Draconian restriction on free thought or mandate state-sanctioned book burnings. But you’d be wrong.
The act, which was passed the Ohio General Assembly this summer, only does two simple things: it establishes a “no touch” rule at strip clubs and a midnight closing time for sexually oriented businesses (also referred to as “SOBs”). There’s absolutely no question those are reasonable and constitutional restrictions aimed at protecting law-abiding citizens from the devastation wrought by SOBs.
Ohio legislators merely did statewide what a countless number of American cities and counties have previously done over the last few decades. They’ve tried to limit as much as possible the harmful secondary effects of SOBs, because mounds of evidence (including land use studies, police investigations, and public health evaluations) prove that SOBs cause dramatic increases in crimes of rape, sexual assault, molestation, drug abuse, prostitution, indecent exposure, and disturbance of the peace, and increases in the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and levels of sexual promiscuity. They also cause a decline of community standards and property values.
Acknowledging this overwhelming evidence, the U.S. Supreme Court and the lower courts have repeatedly confirmed that the government can regulate the activities of these businesses. So long as the restrictions are protective, and not based upon the government’s disagreement with the message conveyed, they are deemed consistent with the First Amendment.
Mike Johnson is a senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, a legal alliance defending the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding, and litigation, and its subsidiary, Community Defense Counsel. ADF President Alan Sears is the former head of the Commission on Pornography under U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese.
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