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Support Local Journalism. the Cleveland Scene Press Club. December 18, News » News Features. Overt displays of sexuality make Attorney General John Ashcroft uncomfortable. Look no further than his decision to drape a curtain over the breast-baring Spirit of Justice statue that was a backdrop for his press conferences.
So he can't be happy about being named a defendant in a lawsuit filed by an Ohio-based chain of swingers magazines. The dispute began long before Ashcroft's puritanical tenure. It involves a well-meaning law meant to stamp out child pornography, but which also threatens the vitality of Connection Distributing Co. Federal law requires porn producers to keep records proving their performers are of age.
Watch a XXX flick and you'll see the standard disclaimer: All performers are 18 or older and records proving it can be found at the following address. Certainly, the porn industry was lax in screening out youngsters before the law went into effect.
Porn star Traci Lords made more than adult films before she turned She was a Penthouse centerfold at But the record-keeping provision also applies to middle-aged adults, whose sagging bodies and wrinkled features prove they're well beyond the age of consent. The same is true of swingers in general, according to McGinley. Most couples who place with photos ask that their faces be blocked out, fearing their hobby won't be well received by the "straights" with whom they live and work. Their fears aren't entirely unfounded. McGinley, an aeronautical engineer, lost his security clearance after answering an ad placed by an Air Force swinger.
The managing editor of Connection Magazines uses an assumed name -- "Patti Thomas" -- to protect her husband's job. So classified advertisers reacted with predictable fury in when Connection told them they would have to submit photocopies of their driver's s, which would be kept on file for inspection by government agents. Swingers could keep their names confidential if their didn't include photos, but in a world inundated with porn, a few lines of text doesn't exactly scream, "Hey, sleep with my wife!
This is what we look like. This is who we are. And very clearly, this is what we are interested in. The company requested IDs from people and got only 30 to comply. The situation forced Connection to close two publications, Saints and Sinners and Swingers' AlmanacThomas testified in court she declined Scene 's interview request. With the ID requirement threatening to drive it out of business, Connection filed suit against the Justice Department, claiming that the law violated swingers' freedom of speech.
Michael Murray. The Justice Department countered with the expertise of Dr. He cited such factors as breast development, acne, and the absence of pubic hair. Yet even Anthony conceded that the vast majority of photographs were of people over 18, and that he didn't need a photo ID to confirm this.
Ina U. District Court granted summary judgment to the Justice Department. The case looked dead. But several months ago, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision, citing a slew of recent First Amendment cases in which the plaintiffs were as varied as Playboy and the Jehovah's Witnesses. Now the case he back to trial in District Court, and Connection will get one more chance to defend the rights of mate-swappers.
Perhaps the dispute could have been resolved if the ID law were modeled after the rule requiring tobacco retailers to card anyone who looks under age It would guard against would-be Traci Lordses while preserving the anonymity of middle-aged customers.
But the government rarely displays such Solomonic wisdom. Instead, if the Justice Department gets its way, Ashcroft will throw a wet blanket over swingers, the same way he drew a curtain around the Spirit of Justice. Tags: News FeaturesNews. We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Sceneand must include the writer's full name, address, and phone for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via.
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More News Features ». Visit the archives…. Local Culture Creative. Website powered by Foundation. Cleveland Scene. Going Down Swinging Mate-swappers sue for the right to bare arms -- and everything else. By Kevin Hoffman kevin. Friday, December 13, The show is sold out.
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