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Opening Arguments

Standard operating procedure

Public opinion doesn't usually count for much in enforcement of the law -- something is either illegal or it isn't, no matter what people think about it. But because of Supreme Court decrees, what does or does not constitute obscene material is based on "community standards." Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Stan Levco got a little lesson in community standards after he decided -- with great fanfare -- to prosecute stores with those $1 movie-rental kiosks because they provided access to teens of movies meant for "mature audiences." Residents of the county apparently let him know it was one damn stupid idea. After receiving a number of phone calls, e-mails and in-person communications, he's decided to call off the dogs.

"It's not an exact barometer — I didn't take a poll — but it just seemed pretty clear to me that the community would not be behind the prosecution of this," Levco said Friday during a news conference at his office.

"That wasn't the only factor, but it certainly was a factor."

You rent one of those movies with a credit card, which the kids can't legally have anyway. You also can't enforce a contract with someone not of legal age. So even with public support, this would have been a pretty lame crusade to embark upon.

It's an interesting footnote that Levoc was first contacted about the issue by a representative of local video stores, who charge more than $1. It's obvious that video stores are going to be another victim of the digital revolution, so the prosecutor was being co-opted here by businesses just trying to protect their market share while the ship goes down.

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