Porn shop clerk arrested for selling porn:
May 31, 2002 6:51 AM   Subscribe

Porn shop clerk arrested for selling porn: Am I the only one that thinks this is completely crazy? First of all, how can you prosecute someone for something they have a license to do? And why prosecute the clerk, and not the owner of the store? It's not bad enough to have to work in a porn shop, but you also have to worry about being arrested for selling someone a copy of "All Anal Action"?
posted by emptybowl (21 comments total)
It's not bad enough to have to work in a porn shop

That seems to me a judgment likely not shared by all such employees.

In any case, it's far from crazy. It's tactical. You attack the exposed flank, threaten, intimidate, and cow. It will probably work, to some degree.
posted by rushmc at 7:01 AM on May 31, 2002

The officer went back to his office, viewed the tape, wrote an affidavit describing its contents in legal terms (in Texas law, the act performed by the former White House intern on the recent president is called "oral sodomy") and a magistrate issued a warrant for Woodson's arrest.

What a great job. I'm glad Texas lawmen are so hard at work.
posted by insomnyuk at 7:04 AM on May 31, 2002

Texas lawmen are so hard at work

I'm not going to say it, I'm not going to say it, I'm not going to say it ...
posted by yhbc at 7:11 AM on May 31, 2002

With my graduation coming up in December, my wife and I routinely talk about where we should move. Since I'm in ECE, Austin comes up -- UT has an excellent engineering program in case I decide to go to grad school, and there are plenty of tech jobs in the area. Austin itself is a cool town, and my wife grew up only 20 minutes away.

Then, something like this comes up, reminding us why we keep saying that we'll never move to Texas.
Although roughly two dozen stores around Dallas rent or sell movies depicting unsimulated sexual acts between consenting adults and are licensed to do so under city codes, Dallas police vice officers routinely wander into the stores, pick out one or two particularly graphic titles and file misdemeanor promotion-of-obscenity charges against the clerk who rang up the sale.
I realize that this is Dallas, and that Dallas is a very different place than Austin. Still, I refuse to move to a state that won't at least pay lip service (oops) to its citizens constitutionally-protected first-amendment rights.
posted by Eamon at 7:37 AM on May 31, 2002

It sounds like revenue generation through police enforcement to me. In the past they've fined salespersons in the stores, the store owners just pay up the fines and carry on, business as usual. If they fined the actual owners they'd be more likely to fight it and either go to court to reverse the fine or actually do the right thing and strike down the by-laws the police are abusing. Buh-bye to a quick and easy revenue source for the police.
posted by substrate at 7:38 AM on May 31, 2002

I think it would be prudent to point out that the fine makers of "All Anal Action" were not mentioned in the article. The article refers to the much more pedestrian (go ahead and call me an anal snob if you wish) "Euro Angels #20, Anal Retentive".
posted by Trampas at 7:44 AM on May 31, 2002

something similar happened in Tulsa a few years ago, only it was over Penthouse magazine rather than videos (please forgive the link. it was the only one i could find that compiled information about it in one place).
posted by tolkhan at 7:48 AM on May 31, 2002

Texas lawmen are so hard at work

I will. It's all that leather and bondage equipment lying around.

It always kills me that whenever an adult book/video store is under attack, people talk about the community standards and livability and whatnot. And yet, Portland, OR, where I spent a lot of years as a young adult, is regularly cited as both one of the most livable cities in America *and* as having the most adult bookstores per capita of any city in America.
posted by hob at 7:54 AM on May 31, 2002

insomnyuk, yhbc: Your little pun is just disgusting. I like the way you think.

This article really makes me want to get involved with my community and attend some obscenity trials... With a DVcam.
posted by fnord_prefect at 7:57 AM on May 31, 2002

It was a vaguely surrealistic link text, and it gave me ine of the best laughs I've had in a couple of weeks. And I agree this law is frappin' ridiculous.

But with all the(justified) laws about serving alcohol to visibly intoxicated people couldn't you have a headline reading "Bartender Arrested for Serving Booze?"

Just sayin'...
posted by jonmc at 8:06 AM on May 31, 2002

The sad thing here seems to be that these trials are now so common that they call for a "color" piece.
posted by dhartung at 8:08 AM on May 31, 2002

It was so much easier when you could just pay off the local vice squad. Now you have to do it through this whole messy court thing.
posted by geoff. at 8:20 AM on May 31, 2002

I used to cover Denton County north of Dallas for the Star-Telegram. These obscenity prosecutions were commonplace there as well, but in Denton the clerks were being routinely convicted and serving jail time.

The owners incorporated the businesses in byzantine ways to shield themselves from prosecution (one shelf would be one corporation, another section another company, and the like) and were never touched.

In one particularly horrible case, cops told an 18-year-old lingerie shop employee they wanted to buy five videos to sell to others. The employee, who hadn't been working there much more than a few weeks, thought nothing of it and made the sale. Selling them for the purpose of resale was a much higher felony, punished by 20 years in prison.

I'm glad the juries in Dallas are seeing this for what it is, but I'll bet that this same game is being played all over the country.
posted by rcade at 9:21 AM on May 31, 2002

Sounds to me like the cops are just looking for an excuse to watch porn on the job. I wonder what they're doing while they're watching? Think any of those tapes get copied (gasp!) or taken home?

I'm sure there's so real violent crime going on in Dallas, eh?
posted by Red58 at 9:46 AM on May 31, 2002

But with all the(justified) laws about serving alcohol to visibly intoxicated people couldn't you have a headline reading "Bartender Arrested for Serving Booze?"

Yes, you definitely could. Of course, there the objection is serving booze to an obviously drunk person, and not just to booze itself. But the headine would still be true, technically. (Being a bartender and living in Texas... good times. Lots of strange alcohol laws.)

I suppose a more accurate comparison would be to selling porn to an obviously oversexed person, which would make a great story and trial in and of itself.
posted by nath at 10:09 AM on May 31, 2002

Woodson, who had never been to court in her life, says she's relieved to have the trial behind her, and not have a sex-crime conviction following her through life.

Holy carp! When they say "sex-crime conviction" in this context, is this as in "must register with local authorities"? I don't even think that the most puritan jurisdiction in the world should lump minimum-wage porn store clerks in with child molesters and serial rapists.
posted by swell at 10:53 AM on May 31, 2002

But Swell, in their eyes, we're all one and the same..
posted by eas98 at 11:34 AM on May 31, 2002

Keep in mind, this is the same city that spent almost 100K to send cops to topless bars, where they drank, tipped dancers, then got back in unmarked city cars and drove...all in the name of catching "inappropriate behavior" in titty dancers. (Sorry, can't find an online link to the print story.)

I don't know what you have to do, or who you have to blow to get on the vice squad in this town...but it sure sounds like they're having more fun with my tax dollars than the I did paying it.
posted by dejah420 at 11:55 AM on May 31, 2002

Anyone that sees a porn shop knows it's a porn shop. Those that happen to let's say, breach the parameter of the porn shop's front entrance, know what they are doing. Sure, the clerk makes the whole transaction possible, but it's really the customer that makes the whole porn operation neccessary. So more than anything, it's a ploy to generate revenue from the adult stores than to fight obscenity as substrate pointed out.

Being that obscenity is something that has either unexpected shock value or tastlessness. In an adult store, how can that be the case? How could someone become a victim to obscenity if they are knowingly perusing through "obscene" material to begin with? (unless they are the type that like to purposely spill hot coffee on themselves and slip on wet floors, or in this case, get free porn)
posted by samsara at 12:01 PM on May 31, 2002

The scary thing is that in the one-star state (texas) you can get the death penalty for selling porn. (joke)
posted by tcobretti at 12:04 PM on May 31, 2002

Holy carp! When they say "sex-crime conviction" in this context, is this as in "must register with local authorities"?

Holy carp? Sounds fishy to me... The best part is those holier-than-thou "if it were my child!" MeFites who would argue that this woman- if she did end up with a sex-crime conviction for this- must therefore deserve to be raped in prison, chemically castrated, then beaten to death by bats with rusty nails in them.

Y'know, because she'd be a sex offender, 'n all...

God, Texas is a fucking hell- hole. Any chance we could get India or Pakistan to nuke it instead? Let 'em blow off some steam, and take out a few hypocritical Neanderthal misogynistic Texas law enforcement types as a bonus.
posted by hincandenza at 3:53 PM on May 31, 2002

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