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Tuesday, July 02, 2002

Touching Speech

According to the California Court of Appeals, Fourth District, Division Two, topless dancers at a sports bar where alcohol was served who touched and fondled their bare breasts during dances were not engaged in constitutionally "expressive" speech. (Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control v. Alcoholic Beverage Control Appeals Board of California, June 26, 2002, PDF) This may be the first time a court has been asked to take judicial notice of Michael Jackson's inter-performance crotch grabs [n.24], and the opinion also wryly posits that "gentlemen do not go to topless bars to see 'Swan Lake' or even Twyla Tharp." The court concluded that preventing self-touching during performances in a bar licensed to serve alcohol is no more burdensome on speech than requirements for "pasties" and G-strings, and caressing of the breasts during a performance in such a bar is right out. (You may alternately be relieved or appalled to learn the court left for another day the question of whether manipulating the breast "by pulling on an implanted ring" is subject to like prohibition; see n.25.) Still no pictures. There's always the chance this will go up to the California Supreme Court for further review, so those who prefer "breast snapping" (snapping??) with their cocktails may wish to light a candle.

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