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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Art first

Dancing is considered an art, so when Iowa enacted a law aimed at curbing strip clubs, it provided an exception for dancing in "art centers." Along comes a 17-yeard-old girl, who happens to be the niece of the sheriff, who decides to get up stage and strip at a place called Shotgun Geniez in Hamburg. The club's owner has been charged with violating the state's indecent exposure law:

(The owner) responded that the law doesn't apply to a "theater, concert hall, art center, museum, or similar establishments" devoted to the arts or theatrical performances.

"Dance has been considered one of the arts, as is sculpture, painting and anything else like that. What Clarence has is a club where people can come and perform," said his lawyer, Michael Murphy.

[. . .]

Nonsense, said Fremont County Attorney Margaret Johnson, an underage girl danced naked at the club, and that's illegal.

"Are you saying that minors can't be protected? Can a group of 12-year-olds come down and go in and dance nude and it's OK? I don't think that's what the Legislature had in mind when it made those additional provisions," Johnson said.

Johnson said the intent of the law is to allow movies in a theater where there's brief nudity or for an art gallery displaying paintings of nudes.

Is nude dancing a legitimate First Amendment issue? Logically, no, considering that the Framers were concerned with political speech and how curbing it could undermine the informed consent required for a constitutional republic. But realistically, sadly, given how the First Amendment has been expanded to cover every form of "symbolic" speech imaginable, yes.


Harl Delos
Mon, 07/28/2008 - 10:23am

At this point, the first amendment isn't an issue. It doesn't matter what the law intends; it matters what the law says.

I can understand the notion of requiring that immigrants learn English, but shouldn't we start with politicians first?

Bob G.
Mon, 07/28/2008 - 11:07am

Besides, tucking COINS (instead of folding money) into dancers' undergarments in colonial days was a REAL no-no!
(especially while entertaining troops during those God-awful winters)
Plus, you could hear these women coming OR going for miles!