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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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Lee Moriwaki
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Bruce Ramsey
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Kate Riley
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Lynne Varner
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October 17, 2005

Lap Dances as "Expression"

Names of political groups are such jokes, particularly when they’re supporting something that has a negative connotation. The strip-club issue is an example, as our story, here, explains.

The issue is “lap dances,” which is a euphemism itself, but let that go. Take the official name: Lap dances. The city wants to ban them by imposition of a “four foot rule.” Now comes a group that wants to allow them—a “group” represented by an attorney for the owners of Rick’s club. The “group,” which appears to consist of the people selling this particular service, proposes the name, Coalition Against Censorship.

Censorship is about speech and press. This is a dance. Or undulation. Or something along that line. Whatever it is, there is not a lot of verbal content in it, and if there is any “press,” it is something pressing against something else, which was not the meaning James Madison and his buddies had back in 1791 when they wrote the Bill of Rights. Censorship is an issue for newspapers and television, and maybe for libraries. You could censor a report on lap dances, and you might ban or restrict the dance, but you wouldn’t censor it.

Another thing: Coalition of whom? Two men in a Volkswagen?

Anyway, that name didn’t fly. Somebody else had it, a group opposed to banning books in public schools, which comes closer to the meaning of the word, “censorship.” So the group, which is to say, Rick’s, proposed a second name, Free Speech Seattle.

Speech again. What are those half-naked girls doing at Rick’s, giving speeches? There is much talk of the phrase, “freedom of expression,” and I suppose you could say a lap dance is an expression, but hitting someone over the head might be “expression,” too, and we don't allow that. Actually the Constitution does not guarantee freedom of expression. It says, “the freedom of speech, or of the press..”

But alas! The lap dancing "coalition" cannot use this name, “Free Speech Seattle.” It turns out that the folks protesting the ban on posting handbills on telephone poles had reserved that name. That issue was about the press, not speech, but at least it concerned verbal communication, which is not what is on offer at Rick’s.

The pro-lap-dance people are searching for another name. I offer one free of charge: Lap Dances: Yes!

Everyone knows instantly what it means. And it brings a smile. Furthermore, it offers the acronym LADY, which mocks the old tradition of goofy political names.

Respond to Bruce.

 
Posted by Bruce Ramsey at October 17, 2005 06:14 PM



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