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.
Strip clubs and cabarets almost always lead to prostitution and related illicit activities. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that a state can reduce these problems if it prevents patrons from groping the strippers. Just as logical is the direct link that exists between hours of operation limitations and the reduction in secondary harms. More than two dozen land use studies show that closing SOBs during the early morning hours prevents all sorts of chaos and criminal activity.
Understanding this, no reasonable citizen would oppose such a law. Regrettably, Ohio’s porn peddlers lack that sense of reason and are part of a multi-billion dollar enterprise that cares far more about profits than people.
Until recently, the struggle against pornography and obscenity has been fought by small, grassroots pockets of resistance—by concerned moms and dads, individuals who have been ravaged and victimized, and those who still remember and long for a common “decency” in America.
The passage of the Ohio Community Defense Act marks one of the few times that a state has successfully stepped into the arena to help families and communities. The assistance is overdue. Alliance Defense Fund attorneys are arguing on behalf of Citizens for Community Values, an Ohio family policy council that supported the statute, that the act is also perfectly constitutional.
As other states around the country monitor the lawsuit, and the purveyors of porn throw more and more money into the battle, the stakes here are high. Hopefully, common sense and the rule of law will prevail as the litigation proceeds. So far, so good.