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Thursday's Question (No. 408)—"Dance Banned":
In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that cities may compel nude dancers to don G-string and pasties as a way of combating nude dancing's "negative secondary effects." Name one.
"Turns sane, intelligent, compassionate NFL players into murderers."—Michael Schwartz
"Competition may hinder fledgling Internet porno industry struggling to get off the ground."—Tony Van Houten
"Nair addiction."—Laura Miller
"Causing unnecessary and excessive rain to the area."—Marshall Efron
"What's the opposite of bonos mores? Would it be mores boners? Thank you very much!"—Daniel Radosh
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Thirty years ago, when I played in garage bands that worked the bars in eastern Pennsylvania, municipal ordinances expressed similar concerns for the negative secondary effects of the dancers' naughty bits. These restrictions were worrisome for the bar owners who hoped to attract customers eager to drink a $5 bottle of Schlitz while staring at a stranger's breasts. The solution, as it so often is, was more or less to cheat the suckers. In Bethlehem, Pa., the sign on the front of Wow's Colorful Clown Bar read "Enjoy Our Stopless Dancers." And indeed, the young women who mounted the tiny platforms festooned with faded crepe paper, a grotesque parody of a circus tent, did engage in continual, if sullen, movement. The dancers wore bikinis trimmed in fringe, presumably a costume designer's attempt to intensify the room's atmosphere of despair by contrasting what was actually going on with that frivolous material. On the rare occasions when a customer complained that the dancers were not, in fact, topless, the bartender referred him to the wording of the sign. This inevitably was accepted as a satisfactory explanation, early evidence of the groveling legalism that has long suppressed the inevitable revolution that will one day lead to the workers seizing the means of production with their shirts off.
Semi-Naked Truth Answer
While the court was unable to explain how redesigning the costumes of strippers would stop crime in the neighborhood where dancing occurs, they did note that the kinds of crimes that would be stopped—the secondary effects—might include prostitution, sexual assault, and income-tax fraud, except for the income-tax fraud, although you can kind of see how a person, knowing that there's some nude dancing going on just down the block, might be tempted to mess around with the depreciation schedule on his office equipment, or perhaps you can't. I'm no lawyer.
In a concurring opinion (whose delightful secondary effect was an amusing remark from Daniel Radosh), Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that there was no need to determine if the secondary effects actually existed because "the traditional power of government to foster good morals (bonos mores) … has not been repealed by the First Amendment."
I Can't Hear You but I Know You're Saying It Wrong Extra
"A tiny pronunciation guide for News Quiz readers: The name of defense minister Tang Fei, who is set to become the new Premier of Taiwan, should not be read like the astronaut citrus drink. Instead, Tang should be said with a nasally 'ong' sound."—Ann Gavaghan
Hannibal Lecter, Sports Writer Extra
"Shea Ralph, Connecticut's gritty junior and a first-team All-American, left her heart and her skin on the floor …"—Liz Robbins, New York Times
Oprah's Opus Extra
"This magazine is the book that I never wrote," said Oprah Winfrey, describing the forthcoming O: The Oprah Magazine, which she also didn't write. "And this humming noise I make when I breathe? It's the opera I never composed," she did not add.
"She is what every woman wants to be when they grow up," said Roberta Garfinkle, director of print advertising at McCann-Erickson. "Stinking rich with a free pass from the Chicago police department. She can drive down Michigan Avenue at 100 miles an hour at high noon—on the sidewalk—and the law can't touch her. She can kill a guy and walk away," she might have added during the phone conversation we never had.
Job losses in smokestack industries, and you all know what I mean by smokestack industries.