Pole Dancing and Free Speech

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Shawn Macomber had a terrific piece in the July print edition of Reason about a town’s efforts to shut down a woman’s pole dancing exercise studio.

It’s now online.

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18 Responses to “Pole Dancing and Free Speech”

  1. #1 |  freedomfan | 

    With all the poor court decisions we see (and I didn’t actually read this one), it’s encouraging to see a case where someone took a government bureaucracy to task for abusing their power and got satisfaction.

    And, it’s good to see the ACLU take a case that was essentially pro-free market, even if they worked a free speech angle.

    To any of the legal eagles out there, would there have been a case for violation of due process rights or something similar here? I mean, apparently, the zoning board ruled to shut her business down (and kept to that stance through two appeals) without ever bothering to understand what the business was. I think the clueless dolts should be fired for negligence or incompetence. But, I also wonder if she could have gone after the town because it seems like it didn’t give due diligence to her case.

  2. #2 |  Peter | 

    @freedomfan I don’t think there’s a strong due process claim here. She seems to have gotten her allowed appeals and been represented by council, and had means for presenting evidence. The problem was that the city officials made a completely insane finding of fact that had nothing to do with reality, and was designed to curtail her rights because they felt it was icky. And the federal court fortunately smacked them down.

  3. #3 |  Dave Krueger | 

    The print edition has a picture. A pretty good picture, at that. :D

  4. #4 |  Ben | 

    Looking at google maps, Mars Pa seems to be a pretty small town. I also live in a small town in the northeast. My grandmother was chairwoman of the board of ed for 13 years. Since she left that position (we’re talking 1989, so a while ago) the board has become composed of people who have lived in town for only a couple years and have never had children in the school system.

    The number of power grabs they’ve tried is stupid. The high school in my town serves our town plus 5 other towns around us. The board of ed tried to keep our 9th graders in middle school and force them to start high school a year after everyone else at the school. They also tried to force the town to build a new high school. (The current one has served the town since 1801.)

    My point is the only people in small towns that want in on these boards are people who are power hungry. Which I guess is true with any political office.

  5. #5 |  Edwin Sheldon | 

    The online edition, lacking a photograph of the instructor, pales in comparison to the dead-tree edition. The instructor is very attractive for her age.

  6. #6 |  Dave Krueger | 

    I’ve started three comments about this story, but scrapped them because the words haven’t been invented yet that would adequately quantify my disgust for politicians who think anything people do that is sex-related requires written authorization from them.

    It’s a shame that this had to be fought from a First Amendment perspective rather than from the it’s-none-of-your-fucking-business perspective or maybe an if-you-step-foot-inside-my-business-I-will-blow-your-fucking-head-off perspective (which would solve a lot of issues discussed on this site).

    Unfortunately, an It’s-None-Of-Your-Fucking-Business Amendment could never get ratified in today’s United States. People think they have too much freedom as it is and that excess turgidity needs to be reined in and flaccidized before it gets loose and starts reeking havoc among our wives and chillun.

  7. #7 |  Jim Collins | 

    I live close to Mars and used to work there. You are pretty much on target with your dscription. Mars is in Southern Butler County where it adjoins Allegheney County and the City of Pittsburgh. Several years ago when Allegheny County jacked up it’s property taxes, there was a mass exodus North to Butler County. Now we have all of these people who want to run everything and have everybody else pay for it. I just want to know one thing. When the volunteer fire department has male dancers for a fund raiser, will there be as big a stink as there was over this dance studio?

    By the way, my wife is one of her students.

  8. #8 |  Zargon | 

    And the moral of the story is that government officials can, and will, ruin your life if they damn well feel like it.

    That this woman managed to evade that fate appears to be nothing more than dumb luck. Of course, it’s worth noting that the 75 grand she managed to recover from her ignored efforts at grovelling to government officials to leave her the hell alone came from a bunch of innocent bystanders.

    It’s also worth noting that if the woman hadn’t been hit by that stroke of good fortune, none of us would have ever known about it. This outcome is the exception, not the rule.

  9. #9 |  Peter | 

    Jim, this raises an important question. Do the classes in fact promote immoral behaviour in the home that justifies state intervention to keep all of us safe in our status as norm-abiding and moral Americans who keep our affairs with underlings well hidden?

  10. #10 |  Judas Peckerwood | 

    I have no use for James Carville, but I find his remark that Pennsylvania is Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with Alabama in between to be pretty accurate in general.

  11. #11 |  Dave Krueger | 

    What makes stories like this so irritating is precisely because the government is inventing a problem where there is none. You just can’t make a credible argument that what this woman was doing constitutes anything that could reasonably be perceived as requiring government intervention. Apparently the only authority this city needs to impose it’s will is a whim. When this first arose, shouldn’t the entire population of the city have gone out in the streets, torching police cars and erecting barricades?

  12. #12 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #10 Judas Peckerwood

    I have no use for James Carville, but I find his remark that Pennsylvania is Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with Alabama in between to be pretty accurate in general.

    In Alabama, if it were up to the government, sex would only be permitted by married politicians and would not involve their wives.

  13. #13 |  SJE | 

    On a completely different thread, Monica Conyers, the foul mouthed, corrupt Detroit councilwoman, and wife of Rep John Conyers, found guilty of bribery. Could face a few years in prison


  14. #14 |  Will | 

    “turgid” I had to look that one up! LMFAO
    Good for her!!

  15. #15 |  Frank | 

    It’s a good thing Mars doesn’t include Cooper’s Lake Campground or they would try to shut down Pennsic. If they got their panties in a bunch over pole dancing they’d have a stroke come August when fighting, dancing, and wenching (not to mention *gasp* belly dancing) are the rule.

  16. #16 |  Frank | 


    “I have no use for James Carville, but I find his remark that Pennsylvania is Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with Alabama in between to be pretty accurate in general.”

    That explains why my brother-in-law is comfortable there. My sister’s family lives about 40 minutes east of Pittsburgh.

  17. #17 |  Marty | 

    I like freedom of speech even more now that I realize what it protects!

  18. #18 |  CK | 

    Turgid prose should be promoted?