Wednesday, March 26, 2008

First, we register all the booksellers!

Sen. Steele,

I am reading an AP article on the WRTV web site concerning the registration of businesses that sell sexually explicit material.

First, Senator, I apologize for not paying closer attention to the legislative agenda, as I would have written you sooner. It's after the fact, now, and it's my own fault for not knowing about it sooner.

Now, Senator, I cannot express strongly enough what I bad idea this appears to be. Society and communities have every right to determine what kinds of businesses are, and are not, located in their jurisdictions as part of a rational approach to growth and business development. It's perfectly reasonable for a community to want to prevent the inappropriate location of some businesses, especially adult-oriented businesses. (As an aside, the owners of these businesses need to be smart and responsible, too, and not go around insulting their neighbors and customers by sitting themselves down right next to a church or school.)

The First Amendment makes it exceptionally difficult to draw a clear line between what is "explicit" and what is not. Those are the rules with which we live, but I will not at this time go into a discussion with you about what should be available to whom. We both will agree on the obvious extreme that clearly adult-oriented material should not be available to minors. Let's you and I leave it at that for now.

My more immediate concern is the impact this law will have on those entrepreneurs who have a love of books and wish to open a local, independent book shop. Those people will think twice before pursuing their passion. Even the corporates will think twice before opening a new store, refurb'ing an existing store, or moving to a new location. The stigma of being on "The List" is too great a risk for these business owners.

I ask that you take the potential legal challenge to this law seriously in the spirit it's intended (I hope it's intended). Consider more closely the needs of the legit general-interest bookseller and refine the law in some way so that they can continue to offer a diverse selection of information and thought.

Thank you.
-- Sir John Falstaff

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