Thursday, March 27, 2008

Censorship in Indiana

The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) has blasted a new Indiana law that requires bookstores to register with the government if they sell what is considered "sexually explicit materials." The new law, H.B. 1042, was signed by Governor Mitch Daniels on March 13, and calls for any bookseller that sells sexually explicit materials to register with the Secretary of State and provide a statement detailing the types of books to be sold. The Secretary of State must then identify those stores to local government officials and zoning boards. “Sexually explicit material” is defined as any product that is “harmful to minors” under existing law. There is a $250 registration fee. Failure to register is a misdemeanor.

ABFFE spokesman Chris Finan said the law is the only one of its kind currently on the books in the country. Calling it "clearly unconstitutional," Finan said ABFFE will urge the Media Coalition to challenge the law at the organization's next meeting on April 9. H.B. 1042 does not go into effect until July, by which time Finan is hopeful the lawsuit will be filed and an injunction issued by the court.
And yes of course it is unconstitutional and yes the booksellers will get both their injunction and eventually the whole law struck down by the courts, its fairly clearly prior restraint among other reasons. But it's still a win-win for the right wing ideologues behind the law because they already knew that.

They wrote it, voted for it and signed it knowing the courts would stop it - so from the far right Indiana legislator's point of view if the courts go completely wacky all of a sudden they get a shiny new piece of authoritarian social control - or far more likely, when the courts rule against the law, they get an opportunity to rail about 'judicial activism' in fundraising appeals to their wing-nut base.

The people of Indiana get to pay for an expensive and almost certainly doomed legal battle. Lucky them.

Spotted by my girlfriend, thanks honey.

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