The Missouri legislature this week passed SB586 — a bill aimed at regulating sexually-oriented businesses — and many are lauding it as a victory for morality in Southwest Missouri. I don’t think it is.


The Missouri legislature this week passed SB586 — a bill aimed at regulating sexually-oriented businesses — and many are lauding it as a victory for morality in Southwest Missouri. I don’t think it is.

To be clear, I am in agreement with the bill’s supporters in a few cases. That a porn store or strip club should be kept well away from any school, public library, day care or park is self-evident. Honestly, 1,000 feet is a little close for my tastes.

But as concerns the idea that tougher regulations regarding what goes on inside such a business somehow make Carthage a better, safer community, I am in complete disagreement.

What exactly makes a porn store bad? What about it makes our community worse? I am confused.

Firstly, let’s disregard the exposure to children argument. As we’ve already established, these businesses should be kept separate from our kid’s lives. I contend, however, that seeing a non-descript concrete building with an “adult video store” sign doesn’t really harm children. The real harm in their case is inside … where they aren’t allowed.

Secondly, let’s disregard any religious arguments. Not everyone follows the tenets of the Bible, and history has proven that even communities that do so aren’t bereft of immorality. Look at the Crusades. The Inquisition. Consider the Westboro Baptist Church. Consider the moral, religious leaders in the last few years that have been brought down in sex scandals, like Ted Haggard, George Alan Rekers, Joe Barron, Paul Crouch, Lonnie Latham … the list could go on and on.

What I mean to say is Christianity does not necessarily mean a lack of libidinal impulse. We’re all human, and we all have desires. Removing businesses that cater to those desires from our community won’t erase our primal sexuality. People who want it will find it, no matter where you put it. The Internet is like a porn megastore.

Thirdly, let’s disregard any arguments claiming such businesses contribute to or foster sexual deviancy. That’s like saying violent movies create violent people. I don’t buy it. I love watching violent movies, but I’ve never raised a hand to anyone in my life. Additionally, I’ve been inside these types of businesses, and I’ve never even considered harming someone in a sexual manner. The idea makes me ill.

The violent movie metaphor isn’t very apt, anyway. Violent movies depict victimization. The majority of mainstream pornography depicts consensual sexuality with no victims. To say that watching scenes of adults having consensual sex somehow hardwires people to become molesters and pedophiles, in my opinion, is asinine.

There are a heck of a lot of bad genetics and horrible life experiences that factor into the creation of a sexual criminal. I would put forth that it takes much more than a few pornographic films to convince someone that harming a child for the sake of sexual gratification is okay. Previous sexual trauma, maybe? An abusive upbringing? A sociopathic sense of self-importance and god-like invincibility?

Molesters, rapists and pedophiles are crazy. Mentally unbalanced. Bereft of morality. Throwing heavier regulations at a porn store in retaliation or blind fear is shooting the gun in the wrong direction. It’s like hanging the undertaker because you’re scared of death. It’s like ridding our community of knives because a few crazy people are fond of stabbing.

Honestly, I don’t understand the purpose. The only people who are disturbed by what might go on inside a sexually-oriented business are the ones who wouldn’t go to one in the first place. So why bother?

David Mink is associate editor of The Carthage Press