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The Naked City

A strong head nod to Jeff Gerritt at the Detroit Free Press for a good common-sense column the other day on the clash between strip club owners in Detroit and the City Council.

I really don't see the point of these proposed "crackdowns," other than to offer morality theater to the popular religious figures who show up at council meetings to bemoan the sinfulness of it all. Yes, 33 nudie bars in a city this size is a bit much -- but I also think that suggests a pretty big market for them. And since the clubs are not only legal but also the source of hundreds of paying jobs and millions in tax revenues for the city, where's the logic in trying to drive them out of town (especially when it's not like you'll put them out of business)?

Further, if you've grown up in this city like I have and know anything about the strippers here, you know good and well that adult nightclub money does not stop at the city coffers. Much of the tips and salaries earned by the dancers (and DJs and barmaids and bouncers) also flows into small businesses around metro Detroit, including restaurants, corner stores, nightclubs, car dealerships, gas stations, barbershops and hair salons, day-care centers, kids' clothiers, insurance agencies and, goodness knows, landlords. Should I also mention church "love offerings?"

Now, I know the "values" crowd finds stripping immoral so perhaps these folks don't care about the economic arguments. And although I think it's ridiculous to deem stripping "wrong," I will admit that, as a father of two girls, I'm with Chris Rock on what a dad's obligations are with regard to the pole. But frankly, his admonition is about how we men want to measure ourselves. What do our artificial yardsticks have to do with the economic realities faced by poor and working-class moms raising kids alone in a city and state posting record unemployment numbers? And why should the fact that stripping is not the option I'd choose for my children mean that another consenting adult can't have the right to choose for herself? (I mean, I'm also determined to keep my kids out of the GOP.)

I don't mind the regulation of strip clubs. There are already more than enough ordinances -- many of them superfluous -- to cover any crime you could imagine in or around a strip bar. And let's keep it real: Many of these are almost never enforced anyway.

So yeah, I see little point in hounding strippers just to appease disapproving preachers. I mean, it's not like anybody is asking the ministers for taxes on their churches or anything.

As far as I'm concerned, if they're willing to devote more time to worthwhile issues, like preserving school funding, they should even keep those love offerings.

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