You are probably aware that the mayor and council of the newly incorporated city of Johns Creek, along with the Fulton County administration, are in a major tizzy about the opening of an adult video store there.
The 10,000-square-foot Love Shack is the largest such store in the Southeast, according to owner John Cornetta, who has been in and out of court over his right to do business in the north Fulton town. By exploiting some loopholes in the laws regulating such businesses, he managed to open without a business license on Nov. 29, although authorities vow to shut him down permanently within the next few months. The case is pending in federal court.
County and city officials are quibbling about legal details and zoning (though it's hard to see that they have any kind of case). Of course, the real issue here is the terrible offense of openly treating sex as recreation. Never mind that the citizens of Johns Creek are briskly shopping the store's inventory of adult videos and "novelties" (that's code for "sex toys"). Never mind that Cornetta has not hired a posse of thong-clad porn actors to roam the streets and drag Bible-believing adults and innocent children into the store, forcing them to confront the horror of, oh, fur-lined handcuffs.
The warriors in the battle against playful sex imagine all sorts of atrocities resulting from the store. Of course, as far as I've been able to determine, they have not articulated any of their fantasies -- except an unlikely drop in property values. One particularly vague concern seems to be the terrible fate that may befall children who take classes at a dance school that faces the Love Shack. Perhaps some future ballerina, waiting for her mother to pick her up after class, will wander into the Love Shack and decide right there on the spot that she was born to dance on laps, not on point. The horror!
It's astonishing, especially considering the recent parade of self-righteous hypocrites such as Mark Foley and the Rev. Ted Haggard, that people still have the gall to cast the first stone at people such as Cornetta and his shoppers. There is no evidence that pornography causes criminal behavior. It's hard to believe, too, that the Love Shack threatens to expose children to porn as much as the average Internet connection does.
The suppression of the pornographic is really about suppressing the instinctual. It is always in the context of a political ideology that grants itself power to control citizens' bodies. If individuals take ownership of their bodies, they threaten the prevailing ideology. Pornography fires the imagination, which in turn causes people to question how they are victimized by censorship in a general, as well as sexual, way.
One way the culture handles the instinctual sexual imagination is to tie it up in pink ribbons, as James Hillman says. Soft-core porn suffuses our culture, especially the consumer aspect of it. It's hard to avoid on TV and in print media. But the effect of this is to diminish the imagination by reducing the erotic to ordinary consumerism. Meanwhile, whenever hardcore porn reveals itself, the morality police attempt to squelch it completely. Prisons seize the pornographic drawings of inmates, knowing fully well that they demonstrate the limits of the body's control, even in jail.
We've seen several other efforts to control the individual's body recently. Wingnuts are furious that Mary Cheney, lesbian daughter of the hyper-conservative vice president, took control of her own uterus and got pregnant. She plans to raise the child with her partner Heather Poe. Naturally, critics such as James Dobson of Focus on the Family claim their objections concern the absence of a father figure. But anyone can read between the lines and see that this is just a convenient way of bashing homosexuals again.
An even more bizarre example of veiled homophobia was published last week on the conservative website World Net Daily. Columnist Jim Rutz claims that the common consumption of soy products increases estrogen levels ... and you know what that means:
"Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality. That's why most of ... today's rise in homosexuality must fall upon the rise in soy formula."
Little is as disruptive to the status quo as the imagination in the throes of sexual fantasy. Indeed, porn, a first-amendment issue, apparently poses a greater threat than guns. Guns merely kill people. Porn liberates the imagination -- a far greater danger to a state that believes it must control the average citizen's pursuit of pleasure. I hope Cornetta scores in court.
Cliff Bostock holds a Ph.D. in depth psychology.