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Toying with your freedom

| Monday, Feb. 28, 2005

"The Heart of Dixie" has no love for sex toys.

Alabama had outlawed the sale of what some call "marital aids." The U.S. Supreme Court last week declined to review the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Williams v. Alabama that upholds the 1998 ban.

Sell "any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs" and risk a $10,000 fine and a year in jail. A Southern jail.

But selling sexual devices "for a bona fide medical, scientific, educational, legislative, judicial or law enforcement purpose" is permissible.

That is part of the overall ("overalls?") Alabama law. Nude dancing and X-rated videos now are out. Prophylactics remain in.

A glaring inconsistency: Selling erectile-dysfunction antidotes also is allowed.

Alabamans may keep the naughty gadgets, gizmos, gewgaws and other fervid folderol stashed in their closets.

When denied your heart's desire, the free market comes to the rescue. Picture the Ohio merchants selling fireworks a few feet from the Pennsylvania border.

"Fireworks" is an ideal name for the anticipated sex-toy stores, just beyond the state's periphery, that surely will pop up faster than Internet ads for adult sites.

Ridiculing Alabama is easy, but six other states also prohibit such merchandising. But the most deserving of ridicule is a judicial system that allows such intrusive limitations of your personal freedom.

In its July ruling, the circuit court was concerned that siding with the toy merchants could open the door to the legalization of behaviors such as prostitution. Since using the toys and engaging in physical acts are permissible -- as long as money is not exchanged -- the court appears more troubled by commerce than sex. It referred several issues in the case back to the U.S. District Court for review -- including whether states have the right to legislate morality. (If they do not, the laws of all states will be voided.)

The majority opinion stated the U.S. Constitution does not include a right to sexual privacy. True, but not the way the judges suggest.

The Constitution is a simple, short document divided into seven sections called "articles." It is the blueprint for the structure and operation of the federal government.

Rights are not mentioned. Nor should they be. The Founders understood that the state cannot grant rights. Only God can, and does for all. And to protect us from it, the Bill of Rights tells the government what it must not do.

The right of sexual privacy is not listed, but neither are your rights to marry, have children or do almost anything you want whenever you want. Unless otherwise addressed in those documents, you are free to live as you wish, but do not interfere with another's rights.

Personal freedom and personal responsibility must be protected. If not, the state will intrude into the most intimate parts of your being.

See for yourself.

Alabama argued its sex-toy ban " ... and related orgasm stimulating paraphernalia is rationally related to a legitimate legislative interest in discouraging prurient interests in autonomous sex." And that "it is enough for a legislature to reasonably believe that commerce in the pursuit of orgasms by artificial means for their own sake is detrimental to the health and morality of the State."

The court agreed.

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