Censorship

How Do You Know When a Kid's Interest in Sex Is Prurient?

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Indiana booksellers are worried about a new state law that requires anyone who sells "sexually explicit materials" to pay a $250 fee and register with the secretary of state so he can be tracked by local officials. In addition to books, magazines, and videos intended for "the stimulation of the human genital organs," the targeted material includes anything deemed "harmful to minors." The latter category is nebulous and potentially wide, defined elsewhere in the Indiana code as material that "describes or represents, in any form, nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sado-masochistic abuse"; "appeals to the prurient interest in sex of minors"; "is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable matter for… minors"; and "lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors."

An Indiana bookstore owner suggests that definition, depending on whom you ask, could cover "just about any coming-of-age novel and books on health, hygiene, and human sexuality." Chris Finan, president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, agrees that the law sweeps more broadly than its authors and supporters (who had in mind businesses that specialize in pornography) anticipated:

The way we read this bill, if you stock a single book with sexual content, even a novel or a book about sex education, you will have to register as a business that sells sexually explicit material….This is just outrageous from our standpoint, and we believe it is a violation of the First Amendment.

A co-sponsor of the law, state Sen. Brent Steele (R-Bedford), tells the Indianapolis Star the booksellers are overreacting. He notes that the law does not cover "a person who sells sexually explicit materials on June 30, 2008," so existing booksellers need not register as smut peddlers. Unless they move to a new location. Or change their inventory.

[Thanks to Nicolas Martin for the tip.]

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  1. “is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable matter for… minors anyone”; and “lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors anyone.”

    This covers pretty much the entirety of activities indulged in by the Indiana legislature.

  2. How Do You Know When a Kid’s Interest in Sex Is Prurient?

    When they hit puberty.

  3. So, does that include National Geographic and the JC Penny’s underwear circular?

    Damn kids with their easy access to intertube porn don’t know how good they have it.

  4. National Geographic appeals to the purient interests of the typical 12-year-old boy.

  5. “is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable matter for… minors anyone”; and “lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors anyone.”

    This covers pretty much the entirety of activities indulged in by the Indiana every legislature.

    Fixed.

  6. In addition to books, magazines, and videos intended for “the stimulation of the human genital organs,”

    So this applies to stuff that you’re supposed to rub with your junk?

  7. Synchronicity strikes again.

  8. How Do You Know When a Kid’s Interest in Sex Is Prurient?

    Throw a basketball at a garage door from five feet away. If the ball hits the garage door the kid’s interest in sex is prurient.

  9. What about art books? There’s probably more naked women in an art book than a Playboy.

  10. Why do I have a feeling that the Bible won’t be included in this? Plenty of smut in the good book if you know where to look…

  11. In addition to books, magazines, and videos intended for “the stimulation of the human genital organs,”

    So this applies to stuff that you’re supposed to rub with your junk?

    In other news, patients admitted for genital paper cuts have decreased by 30%, say doctors…

  12. Please have mercy on my poor old purient interest.
    -forgot the name of the singer.

  13. My mom thought i was a genius since at 12 I’d been reading “Rememberances of Things Past” by Proust for a few weeks.

    What she didnt know was i was basically reading the sex-filled bits of Swann in Love over and over again.

    Sex in literature made me a lifelong reader. Come for the smut, stay for the literary edification

  14. It’s for the children, you know…

    Because it’s not like there’s this thing called the Internet that has vast stores of porn on it that anyone with a bit of computer savvy could access for free, which is far easier to get to than dad’s Playboy stash or buying erotica novels from the Barnes and Nobles.

    Nope. Nothing like that, thank God.

  15. Yup Dread, it’ll have to go “for the children”.

  16. I hateses the children.

    More accurately, I hateses the people who use “The Children” to beat me about the head and shoulders.

  17. When I think of all the things that stimulated my prurient interests as a kid, well, I think of a pretty damn long list.

  18. Indiana’a new state motto, “Just Like Kansas, but with Gary”.

  19. Does this mean it’s going to be harder for me to find copies of Tiger Beat?

  20. How long before any bookstore registering under this law is required to close down if it’s within a mile (or whatever) of a school or playground?

    If Barnes and Noble falls under this law, then that could be rather interesting.

  21. There are sex shops in Indiana? How does someone get aroused in Indiana of all places? I always assumed that the natives rented hotel rooms out of state when they wished to procreate (brought to you by a long time despiser of Bobby Knight).

  22. “How Do You Know When a Kid’s Interest in Sex Is Prurient?”

    When he’s breathing.

    CB

  23. Using THE CHILDREN? as a way to pad your resume…how I wish I could be surprised.

    BTW, does the name Brent Steele sound like something out of pro wrestling, or is it me?

  24. BTW, does the name Brent Steele sound like something out of pro wrestling, or is it me?

    Its just you, JB. I think it sounds like a nom de porn.

  25. It’s probably unconstitutional and will be struck down by the courts accordingly.

  26. It’s probably unconstitutional and will be struck down by the courts accordingly.

    Isn’t that cute? This one hasn’t become jaded & cynical, yet.

  27. Isn’t that cute? This one hasn’t become jaded & cynical, yet.

    Quick, get me 10,000 words of Balko, stat!

  28. [i]”appeals to the prurient interest in sex of minors … and “lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.”[/i]

    So that’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue off the shelves, then.

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