Barely A Priority

Have I been missing something? I mean REALLY missing something? I’m talking about the ongoing debate (there are two sides to this?) over the banning of “NUDITY In PUBLIC.” It’s shocking that everybody wouldn’t think a ban on people — with maybe a very few exceptions — being bare-assed naked in public wasn’t a good idea.

But, no, this is all about banning commercial nudity. That which takes place inside adult clubs. Where they have a cover charge and bouncers and keep the windows closed. The only ones ogling the naked — or whatever — are paying customers. The dancers aren’t exactly indentured servants. It may be a club full of voyeurs, strumpets and traveling salesmen, but they’re consenting voyeurs, strumpets and traveling salesmen.

Ultimately, we keep coming back to this fundamental issue: These are sleazy places run by First Amendment parasites. We’re embarrassed when out of town visitors or national media remind us of our strip club reputation. We cringe upon hearing that a Las Vegas marquee actually advertises “‘Tampa-style’ lap dances.” We see statistics about prostitution and correlations about crime and blight and figure they can’t all be selective and skewed.

But do we really want to use tax money to play the dicey, pricey ordinance-appeal game?

The city, which is hardly flush and where all the live nude clubs are, has other priorities.

The Board of County Commissioners, whose priorities aren’t always fathomable, just passed up an opportunity to put an anti-nudity ordinance on the November ballot. It was actually the right call and not just because unincorporated Hillsborough has no live nude clubs.

The commissioners — 10,000 signatures from the Citizens for Decency and two pro-ballot motions by Ronda Storms notwithstanding — did the prudent thing. They will wait and see what happens in Manatee County, which is currently in the throes of legal challenges to its own anti-nudity ordinance. Manatee is appealing a federal court rejection of its ban. If nothing else, some helpful options or guidelines may result.

In the mean time, don’t look for Joe Redner to open up an adult club in Mango.

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