Decriminalize Prostitution Now Coalition
Your Tax Dollars Are Being Wasted Ruining Citizens Lives
Instead of fighting real crime
COPYRIGHTED 1998 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED - MAY BE REPRINTED OR QUOTED FROM ONLY IF CREDIT IS GIVEN Decriminalize Prostitution Now Coalition, MAILING ADDRESS IS SHOWN AND WE ARE SENT A COPY OF PUBLICATION.
1)Sept 21st Update: National Family Legal Foundation (NFLF) & City Response to our letters
2) Sample of your letters in reponse to NFLF
3) Sept 23rd Secondary Effects Opportunity & Updating Phoenix Situation - Discussion with Phoenix Attorney
Sept 21, 1998 UPDATE: Phoenix vs. Consenting Adult Sexuality
City Of Phoenix responds to my letter
NATIONAL FAMILY LEGAL FOUNDATION Editorial AZ Republic
Probably all of you that wrote the City got the same form letter. It doesn't address one issue I raised. They completely shift gears. Remember the mountain of clear evidence of crime etc. in the 500+ pages of "proof" you can buy from the city, which I summarized earlier. Well now they are on a different attack.
In letter from Mayor Skip Rimsa to me in response to my letter he says as his main argument:
"The Police Department has also documented criminal elements associated with sexually oriented businesses that in turn negatively impact surrounding neighborhoods and residents."
"...our plan to ban 'sex clubs' which are nothing less than houses of prostitution" (referring to swing clubs where they charge an entry fee)
Regarding the neighborhood issue, every place I've ever been has a huge parking lot. People drive to the strip club or swing club and drive away when they come out. Most of the clubs aren't even in walking distance to any "neighborhood" But somehow there now is a "criminal element" that "negatively impacts surrounding neighborhoods and residents."
Funny there isn't a word about any of this in all the 590 pages of "proof" other than one swing club that is in violation of zoning by being within 500 feet of a residential area. But no proof or any document about neighborhood issues much less criminal elements. So their proof is being laughed at as silly so they have come up with new arguments, without an ounce of documented support.
And the real truth is in the Editorial in Today's AZ Republic (Sept 21) where the head of the National Family Legal Foundation says another good result of the Phoenix proposals is "escort services will cease to exist."
Let me introduce the National Family Legal Foundation
They are the biggest enemy spreading deceptions and helping cities all over the U.S. to fight adult consenting sexuality. They clearly have an agenda to stamp out adult businesses and they are based right here in Arizona.
See September 21, 1998 Arizona Republic Editorial section and article by the head of this radical group, Scott D. Bergthold. Look at his picture.... He looks so angry... and sad...like he has not enjoyed sex in years. Poor guy probably has some deep emotional problem which is why he has to fight so hard against sexually orientated businesses and seeks to deprive everyone else of healthy adult sexual fulfillment. He looks like one of those fire and brimstone preachers ranting about how horrible pleasure is and sex should be only for procreation, certainly not pleasure...and certainly if not married to the person!
He talks about all the terrible things that are going on in strip clubs. Like a dancer touching her breasts of all the sexual contact (giving tips in G-strings). Geeesh. And he says if the new proposed Phoenix ordinances are passed it will make all escort services go out of business.
And he claims the clubs that are shut down should thank him "- it will close them down, thereby helping them avoid felony convictions for conducting prostitution rings and participating in organized crime."
And of course since they have no legitimate arguments that make sense they try and make it a children and neighborhood issue, which is so stupid. Oh, yes why not toss in "organized crime" too!
But when some folks are so concerned whether or not Clinton touched any dirty sexy parts of Monica.... Some folks I guess really do get hung up over these things we think are so stupid and childish. But our culture reflects these immature attitudes where we encourage women to be looked upon as sex objects (dancing sexually is ok) but heaven forbid any more mature real adult interaction with another real human. Or, any sexual satisfaction if your not married in a sexually fulfilling relationship (which so few are).
I won't even mention his comparing sex between consenting adults to the "consent to smoke crack together," That is just so laughable. Shows what his sick view of sexuality is. But being rational is clearly not what its about, just fire up people's emotions.
These are not average Americans, or at least I hope not, but very puritanical prudes that seek to control everyone's sex lives (probably since they are so much unresolved anger for some reason directed at sexuality). Or, as I suspect it is a part of the Religious Right effort to stamp out sexual pleasure at all costs to freedoms.
They know they can't win making it a religious issues so they grasp at protecting the kiddies and neighborhoods with senseless arguments which are so emotionally charged the ignorant or those that can't think for themselves will actually jump up and holler a big "A-Men Brother"! The saddest thing is they don't have a clue about biblical sexuality only how its been twisted and lied about by traditions with no biblical basis.
Obviously the Arizona Republic Newspaper is fully behind the need to get rid of adult business as a risk to children and neighborhoods as their entire editorial board proclaimed earlier. I doubt if anyone with any sense is listening to us. But I encourage as many as possible to keep writing letters to the city council, newspapers, etc.
Dave in Phoenix
A sample response to my note (writer has a legal background):
I much agree with your comments about this Bergthold character. While we may agree or disagree with the social movements of the 1960's, at least they involved people who were fighting about things that really had a legitimate effect on them.
For instance blacks were fighting for their civil rights and college students opposed the Vietnam war not only because they believed it was wrong, but because they might get drafted and die there.
This so called Family Law Foundation, however, seems to want to restrict adult freedoms all over the nation, not just in the neighborhoods of its leaders. Not only is this cause itself illegitimate, but the arguments Bergthold is using can easily be refuted.
He says the police reports show that adult businesses lead to an increase in crime. This is a twist of logic. The crimes that are reported are mostly just what should normally occur in a strip club and have only been made illegal through the efforts of busy-bodies like himself.
He also decries the costs of litigation and blames adult businesses for causing this. The litigation is caused by groups like his manipulating city, county and state governments into attacking adult businesses who then understandably use the legal system to fight for their very existence.
The bragging that his group is doing on their web page may well be their undoing. I personally would like to see every adult business that is located in an area where this group has been influential to file a tort claim against this organization, based on interference with constitutional rights or causing loss of business revenue.
This group and other organizations of the Religious Right are cleverly hiding behind the taxpayers and using the power and resources of government to carry out their narrow-minded agenda. They richly deserve a taste of their own medicine!
I would like to see them face a plethora of lawsuits in many different jurisdictions and venues. They might even win some or most of the suits, but they would have their hands full fighting them. Not every judge would be sympathetic to their cause.
Personally as a taxpayer, I resent my tax dollars being used to buy table dances for police officers and to pay attorney fees while attempting to deny adults their rights to sexual expression. (I wrote this quickly so it is not worded real well, but I imagine you get the meaning.)
Dave, As I mentioned in a post several months ago, I met the founder of the AZ Family Council (name????) that helped lobby for the current draconian touching laws at exotic dancing clubs. He was so zealous and got so excited describing the evils he was fighting, my overwhelming impression was that in some bizarre way, he got turned on "fighting" porn.
Isn't it sad that some people are so obsessed by their own sexual dysfunction that they feel the need to enforce that dysfunction on others.
Another upset Phoenix Citizen wrote the following letter including about his swing club experinces . He later summed the problem up: "Facts are facts and no amount of double-talking will change them. People need to know what's really going on. Scott Bertghold, on the other hand, can drown in the filth-filled gutter he's conjured up in his mind, for all I care. I'm not in the business of saving souls, just informing them."
Keven Ann Willey
Editor of Editorial Pages
The Arizona Republic
200 E. Van Buren
Phoenix, AZ 85004
This letter is in response to the opinion fluff piece by Scott D. Bergthold, published in the September 21st edition of the Arizona Republic. Personally, I'm getting sick and tired of listening to holier-than-thou rantings about what Phoenix should and shouldn't do concerning the sex industry, especially when those diatribes come from self-promoting ignoramuses like Bergthold, whose only real agenda is to promote his views of a more homogenized society of right-thinking conservatives. Yo, Scotty, you don't have a clue what you're talking about!
To begin with, to compare sex between consenting adults to the "consent to smoke crack together," is laughable in the extreme. Obvious absurdities aside, can I assume by your statement that you don't approve of sex between consenting adults? Would you rather there be no consent involved? That way people could simply take what they wanted in the form of neighborhood voyeurism or date rape. In addition, your belief that sex is being bought and sold in the city's topless clubs, adult cabarets and swingers clubs is nothing more than fanciful supposition fanned by the overheated imagination of other self-righteous editorials similar to your own. Have you ever been to any of the above mentioned clubs, Scott? My guess is that you haven't or your views wouldn't be so blatantly and stereotypically wrong. After all, why risk the possibility of seeing a naked breast or, gosh, people sharing intimate contact, when you can read a few editorials and form your opinions that way?
Here's the deal, Scott, these clubs aren't necessarily for everyone. They're like television, if you don't like the programs which are being broadcast, you don't have to watch it. That's the beauty of a democracy. But by the same token, if you haven't ever turned the damned thing on, don't criticize it. It just makes you sound ignorant. Obviously you'd like it if the world were more to your liking. Who wouldn't? But until the day that the City Council decides to force people like you to relax and stop shoving your "family values" down my throat, it's not going to come close to the world I envision either.
Now, to head off anymore asinine assumptions on your part, here's where I'm coming from. I am a communally respected family man with none of the sexual hang-ups which tend to cause so many emotional problems in relationships today. I am not, however, a regular patron of any of the aforementioned clubs. I have been inside only a handful of topless and nude clubs in my entire 37 years on this planet. Personal preference, nothing more. Recently, however, I visited one of those dens of iniquity known as a swingers club at a friend's behest. Guess what? I didn't have sex. I didn't watch anybody having sex. And I wasn't treated any differently because I wasn't there to have sex. Instead, for the price of a cover charge, I chatted with the friends who invited me, made some new friends, played some darts, ate some free food, drank free sodas (neither alcohol nor drugs are allowed anywhere on the premises, a rule every adult member of the club adheres to not out of forced regulation, but because the thought of engaging in any kind of social activities with a drunken, drug-addled lout is as repellent to them as it no doubt is to you. Surprise!) and danced with some very beautiful and, yes, sexy ladies.
That was it. That's what I wanted, that's what I got. Just like any other bar or dance club I've ever visited and paid a cover charge to enter. The only difference was, if I had cared to engage in sexual activity with one of those other consenting adults, the accommodations were available on site. As an adult, I think I prefer that to having to retire to the back seat of my car and risk offending some passing citizen at 1 am (not to mention the inevitable slipped disk!). I would not have had to pay any of those consenting adults, nor would I have had to rent a room. Get it? How can such a place be called a house of prostitution when no money is exchanging hands? In addition, nobody shoved condoms down my throat, though I'll tell you something, I was damned glad to see them made readily available. Better that than the risk of STDs being transferred in the heat of the moment. That's called an adult appreciation, Scott, but socially-stunted "adults" like you who think of sex and condoms in the same juvenile, sex-is-dirty terms most pre-teens do, wouldn't understand that.
And finally, let's talk about that 590 page report you so assiduously based your arguments on. I happen to have a copy of that travesty of justice in my possession and I can tell you this, it's not worth the paper it's Xeroxed on. All that wordy and factually incorrect document says to me is that a lot of taxpayer money was spent sending undercover cops into those clubs to ask dancers for sexual favors (which, if you read any of the accompanying documents, show they were roundly refused), try to tuck tips anywhere other than their garter belts, ask pointed, and quite frankly, rude questions and generally act like the very pigs the owners of said clubs try to keep out through cover charges and rules of conduct. All this to prove a senseless point. As for "community blight," again, you don't know what you're talking about. It has been proven that every one of the businesses mentioned has complied with the existing zoning restrictions. That means, contrary to what you and other editorial dunces want us to think, there are already laws in place which tell the owners of these business where they can and cannot set up shop. All are in commercially zoned areas, outside of the neighborhoods you believe are so at risk. Kind of sheds a new light on the subject, don't you think? Or is objectivity only necessary when convenient?
You are right on one point. "So-called adult business have cost residents thousands upon thousands of dollars." Just not in the way you would have us believe. The city is not involved in some Christian crusade to revive the morals of its citizens, so much as it is caving to the two-faced hypocrisy of organizations like the one you head up. Whether you personally believe it or not, what the city is doing is Constitutionally unsound and will not hold up in court. They know that, but they also know that once they've shut down the clubs, the damage will have been done. Litigation is costly, you're right on that point as well, but it will not end simply because a self-styled "Ethics Subcommittee" throws it's weight around. You really are a fool if you believe it will. Sex is much more integral to the human psyche than moral indignation is and no amount of legislating will change that. Remember that when there are no more legally mandated places for sexually frustrated men to go and have their urges satisfied. They'll find a place. Believe that. But you may not like the alternatives they're forced to explore.
Here's a real challenge for you, Scott: show me the crimes you mention. You trumpet the word repeatedly, as does that document you based your arguments upon. Show me a study or piece of paper which conclusively states that the crime rate-and by that I mean drug-trafficking, muggings and murders-is any higher around adult clubs than it is anywhere else, including regular bars and dance clubs, and then I might begin to listen to your attempts at subversion. And if you can't present that study or piece of paper, explain to me why so many police officers are regularly called away from the true problem areas to harass clubowners and dancers. How many women have to be mugged in grocery store parking lots? How many drug deals have to go down in schoolyards? How many unsolved murders have to be logged in the books before the true problems are realized? Your idea of "crime" and mine are obviously very different.
It's every citizen's right to point these things out. Most are loathe to do so, because of the uproar it will cause to reveal personal information to an uninformed, stone-throwing public. Things are changing, however, and many who would rather just ignore loud-mouthed trouble makers like yourself are beginning to come forward. You and the Phoenix City Council have forced their hand, so don't sound so put off that it's happening. To you it may be nothing more than "concerted whining," but to me it's the sound of that final straw being placed on the proverbial camel's back. Just because you don't like something, doesn't make it wrong. And declaring it illegal doesn't make it go away. Until you can actually prove that some crime worthy of concentrated police effort and city resources is being committed, I have only one thing to say to you and others of your ilk: keep your self-righteous noses out of my and every other Phoenix citizen's Constitutional rights!
Secondary Effects Study Opportunity
Updating Phoenix Situation Discussion with Phoenix Attorney
I had an hour plus very good discussion with Michael Ross (xxxadvocate.com)in Sacramento CA. He has compiled a huge amount of data to counter the neighborhood issues and secondary effect argument being used in cities across the country to pass laws restricting adult clubs.
His secondary effects outline is at http://www.xxxadvocate.com/html/secondary_effects.html - Now Longer There!
Michael has MANY good ideas about working with city councils etc. and is VERY interested in helping in Phoenix. He is willing to come to Phoenix to help or share ideas, and even prepare a secondary report for the City Council that will counter any argument they have. Michael is very dynamic, well known for his work and his http://www.xxxadvocate.com website. He also has a newsletter that covers legal and legislative issues all over the U.S.
I do not have the time to do the coordination with him getting things he needs etc. There may also be costs involved which I am in no position to fund (especially since I don't get any financial benefit from any adult ideas I promote)
I am going to be in Denver at a conference Sat-Wed next week.
It's the club owners that have the most to lose or gain, so I am going to get out the information but that is all I can do. The clubs seem to all have their own different attorney's duplicating efforts etc. vs. a more efficient joint Coalition. But I'm told that some clubs don't like others so is hard for them to doing anything jointly it seems, even though in all of their best interests.
Updating Phoenix Situation Discussion with Phoenix Attorney
Discussion on Status With A Phoenix Attorney
I just had a long phone discussion with one of the attorney's I've shared material with. His firm is representing some clubs. (He enjoys swing clubs and his wife just happens to be a dancer at Body Shop). Here is the status of various matters:
1) AZ New Law: Within a few weeks a Federal Judge should issue a permanent injunction against the new ARIZONA law which forces clubs to close at 1 AM. There is a final hearing scheduled and he thinks it will be an easy win, just like what was done 3 yrs. ago when Phoenix passed laws which have most of the same restrictions as in the current "new" proposals.
2) Phoenix's similar law that passed 3 years ago: Attorney's for the clubs are in serious negotiations with the City of Phoenix and their attorney's regarding the lawsuits against the city for the restrictive ordinances the city DID pass about 3 years ago. They have not gone into effect because of a Federal Court injunction. He says we have a very good Federal Judge handling these cases.
He suggests that riling up the city with new attacks could hurt the negotiations currently going on. The best thing to do is let the issue die down for awhile and he thinks a settlement can be made with the city. While he can't discuss specific settlement offers the goal is to keep things mostly as is at both the adult clubs and swing clubs.
3) New Phoenix Proposals: He doubts the city will move forward on the new proposals while settlement discussions are still going on regarding the 3 year old Phoenix law that did pass. Hopefully a favorable settlement can be reached and the city will also not move forward with the latest proposals since this would just start all the lawsuits all over again.. another injunction against them etc.
Of course the question can be asked why did the city make new proposals when still in negotiations over similar laws the city did pass 3 years ago? Perhaps as a political ploy?
I also raised the concern that in many California and other cities around the U.S. very restrictive ordinances are in effect. Many it seems were adopted with the help of the fanatical anti-sex group "National Family Legal Foundation - Protecting Children and their Neighborhood"
National Family Legal Foundation claims their model anti-sex ordinances hold up to constitutional attacks. The attorney says they may have been attacked in the State Courts without much success but the Phoenix clubs and their attorneys are in Federal Court. He feels the laws here will be struck down in Federal Courts if no agreement is reached with the city. Or they will be on appeal for many years all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Perhaps that assumes the clubs can afford all the legal fees?
All this legal mess with huge attorney fees is just because some folks will use any excuse no matter how irrelevant (protecting children) just to try and deny consenting adults the right to enjoy adult fun or sexual pleasure. How sad, but that's the way it is. Most of the blame in my view is the totally false teachings of active, well organized "Christian" groups that don't even have any biblical support for their anti-sex, puritanical positions.
And there are worse things to come. The next goal of anti-sex groups is to get State laws passed based on their model anti-sex ordinances. That may be an even more difficult fight.
In my view, someone (not me), or a coalition of clubs should work with Michael Ross as I think his the work he has done could be very valuable either currently, or in the Courts on Appeal, and/or later with the Arizona State Legislature.
One of the critical legal issues is proving the secondary effects. You can't deny a business the right to operate. But you can require it not to have undo negative effects on the community. That is why countering the secondary effects studies and exposing the errors and bias in their conclusions, I believe is so important for the future.
I'm not trying to just promote xxxadovate, Michael Ross, but I believe he could be of valuable assistance that could benefit consumers as well as Clubs in Phoenix. I'm simply letting people know of the situation. I don't have direct contact with very many of the club owners. Some don't like me because of my negative reviews of their clubs i.e. Alaskan Bush, Rumper Room (I call worst in the city in my reviews) etc. But they all have a big stake on these issues.
Dave in Phoenix
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