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Welcome to STop, the Seattle Times Opinion blog where our editorial writers and editors share their evolving thoughts on a variety of issues. STop is a place where opinion writers and readers can exchange views and readers can learn more about how editorial positions are formed.

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July 12, 2005

Outlawing "lap dances"

Now that the owners of Rick’s strip club on Lake City Way are the targets of felony charges related to campaign-finance law, the mayor has proposed to make “lap dancing” illegal, with the clear intent of running Rick’s and the other three strip clubs in town out of business. The editorial boards of the Seattle Times and the Seattle P-I have supported the mayor’s proposal.

I don’t. I have written on this before; in a column in 2003 I supported Rick’s. That column said, based on press reports, that the owners of Rick’s had not broken the law. Now, prosecutors believe they did, and so that part of the column may be wrong. The other part of it stands, which is that the “favor” Ricks wanted from the city was the right to park eight cars on a piece of their own land that was useful only for parking cars, and that the city should have let them do it—and, furthermore, that the larger scandal in elections is not the contributions that are illegal, but the ones that are allowed. I think the contributions made to convince the City Council to allow the parking of eight cars are not nearly as interesting as the much, much larger contributions from engineering and contracting firms made to convince voters to build a $2 billion Monorail.

Now that the owners of Rick's are being legally pursued for a violation of campaign finance law, the mayor, the Times and the P-I propose to run them out of business through regulation. That is what this amounts to: rules designed to take all the fun out of the company’s service, even to the point of requiring the strippers to use a “tip container.”

I hear the argument that having strippers undulate in your lap amounts to “prostitution lite.” (So? Does it spread disease? What is the governmental concern with it?) Meanwhile, you can pick up the Stranger or the Weekly and browse ads that suggest prostitution not-so-lite.

I think the government has more important things to do than this.

Respond to Bruce.


 
Posted by Bruce Ramsey at July 12, 2005 01:26 PM



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