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Free Speech X-Press
Delivering Weekly Censorship Updates to the Adult Industry

Vol. VIII, No. 20, April 7, 2006 — A Member Service of the Free Speech Coalition
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Free Speech X-press is researched and edited by Kat Sunlove and Layne Winklebleck.
Copyright 2006 Free Speech Coalition. Permission to reprint granted to FSC members; please give credit.
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VISIT OUR WEBSITE FOR FSC MEMBERSHIP INFORMATION
http://www.freespeechcoalition.com
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ADULT INDUSTRY EXECUTIVE WINS LOCAL OFFICE
MEHLVILLE, MO — Micheal Ocello, 46, family man and father of three, exotic dance chain executive, President of the national exotic dance industry’s Association of Club Executives and former FSC Board Director, has won a seat on the Mehlville School Board in suburban, conservative, south St. Louis County. From a slate of six, with two to be elected, Ocello placed second to Tom Diehl with 24.96 % of the votes.
From Mike Ocello’s Website, 4/5/06
 
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VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES LAW STRUCK DOWN
DETROIT, MI — In a summary judgment, U.S. District Court Judge George Caram Steeh has ruled that Public Act 108, a 2005 Michigan law which regulates the distribution of  ultra-violent video games to those under the age of 17, is unconstitutional under both the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
    The State of Michigan had argued that the interactive element in video games is different than the expressive element and should not be considered protected speech. Judge Steeh, however, said it would be impossible to separate the functional aspects of a video game from the expressive.
    The state tried to bring in scientific studies to show the harm that can be caused by violent video games, but because the law is a content-based regulation of protected speech, it is “presumptively invalid” and must survive “strict scrutiny” by the courts. This meant, said Steeh in his opinion, that the science would have to prove that ultra-violent video games are “likely” to produce violent behavior in children. The purported harms of the games must be “real,” not merely “conjectural.” That’s a pretty high scientific bar and Steeh said the state had not met it.
    The state tried to argue that, rather than “strict scrutiny,” the obscenity test from Ginsberg v. New York (1968) should be applied as the proper level of judicial scrutiny. In Ginsberg, the Court allowed New York to restrict minors’ access to sexually explicit material, even though the restriction would have been invalid if directed toward adults. However, as Judge Steeh pointed out, neither the U.S. Supreme Court nor the Sixth Circuit has ever applied the Ginsberg test in cases that don’t involve sexually-explicit material.
With this decision, Judge Steeh joined the 7th and 8th Circuit courts of appeal, plus federal judges in Washington, Illinois and California who have found such laws to be unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds.
    Plaintiffs Entertainment Software Association, Michigan Retailers Association and Video Software Dealers Association
also won on the question of the constitutionality of the law under the Fourteenth Amendment. They had argued that the law was too vague, and that the lack of precision among the definitions in the statute would subject Michigan retailers to steep civil and criminal liability if they guessed wrongly about what games the law covered.
From Judge Steeh’s decision
And from Declan McCullagh, CNET News, 4/3/06              
See also: Eric Lacy, Detroit Free Press, 4/4/06    
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LOCAL GOVERNMENTS SEEK TO REGULATE CYBERSPACE
BOWLING GREEN, KY & PALMDALE, CA — The use of local adult zoning and licensing schemes to regulate adult Webcasting may seem absurd, but we have seen several instances of this tactic now. Earlier we reported on a Kitsap County, Washington, couple who were charged with violating an adult entertainment zoning regulation by running a home-based adult Internet business too close to a school. (See X-Press report, “Internet Business Too Close to School,” 2/17/06)
    Now comes word from Warren County, Kentucky, that Rebecca J. Fannin, 25, has been charged with operating an unlicensed sexually oriented business for selling sex toys and massage oils online under the name Passionate Gifts. The sex toys themselves were not even in Kentucky, but were sent directly to customers from a supplier in Las Vegas. Fannin said she did hold parties where women and men could look at a catalog of the products to make orders.
    "I can’t figure out what I did wrong," Fannin said. "I didn’t understand I would have to have a permit for an Internet business. I felt like a child molester when they were photographing me and my house."
In the meantime, officials in Palmdale, California, are planning to update their ordinance blocking adult businesses from setting up in residential areas, updating it to address new technologies such as webcasting.         Among the changes in the ordinance is language stating it applies to patrons both on- and off-site, such as those viewing by webcast. The existing ordinance language regarding patrons could be construed as applying to only those customers on-site, said Deputy City Attorney Cesar Bertaud.
Information and quotes from Jim Skeen, Los Angeles Daily News, 4/4/06, and from The Associated Press, 4/3/06
 
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RULING UPHOLDS ADULT BILLBOARD LAW
ST. LOUIS, MO — U.S. District Court Judge District Judge Gary Fenner has again ruled that a 2004 state law banning sexually suggestive billboards within one mile of highways is constitutional. In August, Judge Fenner issued a similar decision in a case brought by Passions Video and Gala Entertainment, a Kansas City exotic dance club. In that case Fenner ruled that the state had a right to regulate businesses to promote a governmental interest. In the case of the billboards, that interest was reducing the negative impact of adult advertising on minors and on traffic safety.
    The current ruling was in a challenge brought by John Haltom, owner of Johnnie ‘O’s Lingerie Boutique store chain in Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Colorado and Utah. Fenner ruled that the law is reasonable and doesn’t prevent Haltom from advertising his stores. It just doesn’t allow him to advertise that he sells adult items.
Information drawn from The Associated Press, 4/1/06
And from another AP report, 8/5/05    
 
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LAWMAKER RECONSIDERS NET NEUTRALITY
WASHINGTON, DC — Representative Joe Barton (R-TX), Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has announced that he has modified his position on issues of net neutrality and will adjust his telecommunications bill accordingly in a revised version to come. His action, which represents a turnaround from his earlier statements, is apparently in direct response to charges from Internet companies such as Microsoft, Google and Yahoo that the current version did not go far enough in preventing broadband providers from favoring some Web sites or video streams’ connection speeds over others. (See X-Press Report, “Net Neutrality Issues Debated in Congress,” 2/10/06)
    The implications of net neutrality policy could be vital for the adult industry. Ask anyone who was around in the Eighties when the major telephone companies decided to discontinue the 800-line billing services because they didn’t like being associated with the phone-sex lines.
Some information drawn from Declan McCullah, CNET News, 4/4/06
 
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COURT BACKLOG STALLS ZONING SCHEME
CHARLOTTE, NC — Frustration is reportedly building in some quarters here over non-enforcement of a 1994 adult businesses zoning law which restricted adult businesses to industrial, business or urban mixed zones and required topless clubs to be at least 1000 feet — adult bookstores 1500 feet — from churches, schools, parks, day care centers or areas zoned as residential. The 1994 law gave existing, non-conforming adult businesses until 2002 to move. However, the city can’t enforce the law until U.S. District Court Judge Graham Mullen rules on a long-running lawsuit that claims the regulations are illegal. Five adult businesses filed suit before the deadline, arguing that the city had not provided enough legal locations for the businesses. If the businesses have nowhere they can move, that makes the law tantamount to a complete ban, which is unconstitutional.
For 18 months, Mullen has said he’s too swamped and can’t make a civil case a priority.
    "I know it needs to be done, but I’ve been balled up with criminal cases," said Mullen, noting that he hopes to get to the case this fall. "The stack of stuff I have to read with these judgments is six inches thick."
The problem, he said, is that Congress takes too long to fill vacancies. North Carolina’s western district, which covers Charlotte, is supposed to have five active judgeships, Mullen said, but now has only three.
Information and quotes drawn from Michelle Crouch, The Charlotte Observer, 4/3/06
 
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SECONDARY EFFECTS ARGUED IN CITY MEETING
FLAGLER BEACH, FL — The City Commission here has approved an expanded (35 acre) parcel of land for adult businesses, a further action in the Commission’s efforts to fix their adult ordinances to meet constitutional muster after getting hit with a federal court lawsuit. Earlier, the Commission reduced the city’s adult entertainment application fee from $10,000 to $500. (See X-Press report, “City Hurries to Fix Ordinance,” 1/27/06)
    During the recent 2 1/2 hour special meeting, the outgoing five-member commission also acted to completely revise the city’s adult entertainment ordinance, requiring dancers in exotic dance clubs to stay 6 feet from patrons, barring sexually-oriented businesses from selling alcohol, and forcing the city’s only existing adult business, the one which filed the lawsuit against the city, club Liquid, to move into the correct, newly expanded, zone within two years.
         The meeting in the crowed hall more closely resembled a court trial than a meeting of the City Commission. A lengthy debate took place on whether adult entertainment clubs are harmful to the surrounding neighborhoods. On one side was Richard McCleary, Ph.D., Professor of Social Ecology from the Criminology Department of the University of California-Irvine. McCleary outlined certain studies showing increased levels of crime in areas near sexually-oriented businesses.
The adult side of the issue was represented by First Amendment Attorney Luke Lirot. Lirot pointed to methodological flaws in the studies highlighted by McCleary, whose academic specialties include statistics.             Those studies cannot be relied on, said Lirot, because they were done in cities where not much industry existed to begin with, so opening a successful enterprise draws more people to the area, naturally raising crime because more people, statistically speaking, means more crime.
Information drawn from Janette Neuwal’s report in The Daytona Beach News-Online, 4/4/06
 
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OTHER NEWS OF THE WEEK
 
A recent study says more than 80% of mature-rated video games portray violence, blood, sex, profanity and substance use beyond the games’ content warning labels. Good summary here.
    Hillsborough County, Florida, officials have pulled out all stops looking for law violations at the Sugar Shack exotic dance club, including wiring deficiencies, insect infestation, locked exits and cooking on the premises.
A new policy in the Pennsylvania Prison system bans adult magazines in order to improve working conditions for women.
    The MPAA ratings board has forced the producers of Basic Instinct 2 to cut a bi-sexual, ménage-a-trois scene in order to avoid an NC-17 rating. “I guess it was too hot,” said the film’s star Sharon Stone.
               
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UpComing Events
 
APR 6-9, SSSS Western Conference
Redondo Beach, CA

APR 7-9 — Leather Leadership, New York, NY

APR 13-16 — DomCon LA, Sheraton Four Points Airport LAX, L.A. CA

APR 24-25 – Celebrate Free Speech Lobbying Days, Sacramento, CA,

APR 28-30 — Venus 10, International Trade Fair, Berlin, Germany
 
APR 29 — 2nd Annual Sin City Chamber of Commerce Spring BBQ, Chicken Ranch Brothel, Pahrump, NV (Benefit for FSC)

MAY 5-7 — Leather Fest, Washington, DC

MAY 10-13, Webmaster, Toronto, Ontario

MAY 25-29 — Mr International Leather, Chicago, IL
 
JUN 8-11 — Cybernet Expo 2006, Shelter Pointe Hotel, San Diego

JUN 9-11 —Exxxotica Miami Beach, Miami Beach, FL
 
See our Website Calendar for a more complete calendar of events scheduled for 2006.
 
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Subscriptions to Free Speech X-Press are FREE to FSC members. Contact us at Sunlove@direcway.com or
 800-476-7813.


 











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