Virginia Beach police seize photos from Abercrombie store

If I didn’t know Virginia Beach, I’d have guessed this was a publicity stunt. But it’s not. According to the article from Hampton Road’s PilotOnline.com (via The Drudge Report),

Police, saying they were responding to citizen complaints, carted away two large promotional photographs from the Abercrombie & Fitch store in Lynnhaven Mall on Saturday and cited the manager on obscenity charges.

Adam Bernstein, a police spokesman, said the seizure and the issuance of the summons came only after store management had not heeded warnings to remove the images.

The citation was issued under City Code Section 22.31, Bernstein said, which makes it a crime to display “obscene materials in a business that is open to juveniles.” He did not say what was being done with the pictures and when the manager, whose name was not released, is scheduled to appear in court.

Bernstein confirmed that one depicts three shirtless young men from the back, walking through a field. The man in the lead appears to be about to pull up his jeans, which have slipped down enough to reveal his upper buttocks.

Few (maybe no one, if they’re rational) would disagree that children are off-limits when it comes to pornography production. That’s not up for debate. That prohibition, however, doesn’t seem to fit this scenario. The ad does not involve children, and it does not involve pornography. (In no legal sense is the ad obscene.) I think that Virgina Beach’s ordinance, though entitled “Display of obscene materials at business establishments open to juveniles,” aims to ban sexually explicit displays in the presence of children. Let the debate ensue.

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