Don’t mess with Pole Taxes

SCDILsign“The Texas Supreme Court will decide whether the state’s $5 charge on strip club patrons violates the First Amendment right of free expression,” begins this article by Chuck Lindell for Austin Legal. Last June, Texas’s Third Court of Appeals in Austin issued a 2-1 ruling affirming a 2008 decision by state trial court to strike down the law, enacted in 2007 to raise money for sexual assault prevention and an insurance fund for low-income Texans. (Mr. Lindell’s article links to the court of appeals’ majority and dissenting opinions.)

The not-so-thinly-veiled premise for the law — that strip clubs contribute to sexual assault — is pure politics, which runs right down to the law’s shorthand name: Pole Tax. In many cities and counties, the laws regulating and licensing strip clubs are called “Sexually Oriented Business” ordinances. Get it? It’s word association at its best, depending on who you ask.

A few years ago, my wife’s sister and her husband (a surgeon), my wife, and I were crammed in a car driving somewhere. I forget where. Anyway, we passed a billboard for “S.O.B.’s,” which we determined was some kinda restaurant. “Did you see that?” we asked each other. Here’s the first thing that popped into our minds (and out of our mouths):

Me: Sexually Oriented Business?

My brother-in-law: Shortness of Breath?

My wife and sister-in-law: Son of a Bitch!!

I’d hate to see a gimmick trounce the First Amendment. I’m sure that I’m not alone.

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  1. [...] on strip clubs’ patrons runs afoul of the First Amendment’s freedom of expression. I mentioned the issue [...]

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