Moral Low Ground


New Utah Law Outlaws “Acting Sexy”

It is now illegal to act “too sexy” in Utah. Seriously. State lawmakers, led by House Minority Whip Jennifer Seeling– a Democrat, believe it or not, have passed a law that bans sexual gestures, including groping yourself in a sexual way, that would indicate an intent to exchange sex for money.

When in Utah, watch those hands and hips! (Photo: Gabriel S. Delgado)

According to the Associated Press, the new law is intended to help law enforcement officers working undercover in prostitution stings. Salt Lake City police chief Chris Burbank, who supports the law, told the AP that it will protect officers who are asked by prostitutes to show their genitals or touch themselves in order to prove they’re not cops. Making such requests is now illegal.

“Officers were being put in a position that we’re not going to allow, so we took a different direction,” Burbank told the AP.

But opponents say the new law is so vaguely broad that police can abuse it and arrest employees of legally licensed but sexually oriented businesses such as strip clubs and escort agencies, not to mention Utahans (or visitors) who behave in a manner police deem overly amorous.

Particularly troubling is language in the new law that makes anyone exposing themselves or touching themselves in a sexual way an indication that they are offering sex.

“Most girls who touch their breasts are not telling you they’re open for sex,” attorney Andrew McCullough, who is representing two escort services that have filed a federal lawsuit to block the new law, told the AP. McCullough added that this law is “virtually identical” to another one that was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge back in 1988.

Chief Burbank told the AP that the new law will only be applied to suspected prostitutes. But in a state as notoriously conservative as Utah, where those who do not conform to the Mormonesque brand of puritanical conformity that dominates society are often scorned or worse, it will be hard for those who oppose this law to trust authorities to apply it only when constitutionally appropriate. This is a state, after all, where a gay couple was arrested in 2009 by Mormon goons on Main Street Plaza in Salt Lake City for holding hands and a kiss on the cheek! The role of the Mormon church (a laughable cult whose members believe that Jesus visited Native Americans and that magic underwear will protect them from worldly evils) in stripping civil rights from homosexuals in states far beyond Utah’s borders also speaks volumes about the hateful values of many Utahans.

Utah House Minority Whip Jennifer Seelig (a Democrat!) sponsored the bill. She claims the law is part of an effort to combat the illicit sex trade and human sex trafficking, which is a very real problem all across America. Still, it is hard not to suspect a morality motive behind this blatant intrusion on Utahans’ freedom of expression.

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  1. URADOUCHESeptember 15, 2011 at 4:24 pmReply

    The funny thing is.. The sponsoring lawmaker, Jennifer Seelig, isn’t a Mormon, so your argument here does not hold water.

  2. raeSeptember 15, 2011 at 6:23 pmReply

    … and banning this is a bad thing? I don’t want to see people doing stuff like this – and if you do – take inside in private for Pete’s sake! Call me a prude but since when is it a bad thing to not want to be exposed to this crap or to have our kids exposed to it? Grandma would roll over in her grave!

    • Brett WilkinsSeptember 17, 2011 at 1:23 amReplyAuthor

      If Utah community values frown upon such action, then I suppose the people of Utah have the right to make laws that reflect those values. Sorry for my unusually harsh language in describing Utah; it is a beautiful if somewhat socially backwards place that I have had the pleasure to visit on several occasions. My acidic commentary was the result of my temporary shock and anger at the nature of such a law, which to me is a blatant intrusion on the rights of Utahans who wish to “act sexy,” something that is completely natural, and also my outrage over the absence of equality in the state. Thank heaven I live in San Francisco, where public nudity is perfectly legal and overt acts of public sexuality are quite the norm during certain cherished events. So normal is nudity here that a new law being proposed that would require nude people to cover up the spot where their private parts touch seats has caused quite an uproar ( I say, there is nothing more natural than the human body. People should be free to go about their daily lives completely naked if that is what they wish to do. I am so glad I live in an enlightened community where most people share these values. But if Utahans wish to go in the other direction, I guess that’s their right, and those who don’t like it can either fight back (through the ballot box, not violently) or move to more permissive climes.

      • Paul KennedySeptember 18, 2011 at 10:24 amReply

        Mr. Wilkins,

        I agree with your article, but I do not agree with your comment:

        “If Utah community values frown upon such action, then I suppose the people of Utah have the right to make laws that reflect those values.”

        No, they do not have that right. If we take this premise to its logical conclusion, the South had a right to force people into slavery because the people held certain “values”.

        A law is only just when it protects individuals from the initiation of force against others (e.g. laws against theft, murder, fraud). Everything else is itself an initiation of force against innocent people (e.g. gays or those who which to touch themselves sexually in public).

        • Brett WilkinsSeptember 19, 2011 at 7:47 amReplyAuthor

          You’re right. I was in a temporarily conciliatory mood sparked by a couple of drinks. We do indeed need to protect against the “tyranny of the majority.” Thanks for snapping me back to me senses!

      • WrenSeptember 18, 2011 at 4:21 pmReply

        Ok, I think you are right that the Utah law is too vague and there are tons of problems with it, but I just the same, I am glad I don’t live in San Francisco, based on your description.

        • Brett WilkinsSeptember 19, 2011 at 7:57 amReplyAuthor

          What’s so wrong with nudity? It’s how you came into the world and it is the most natural thing possible. Men having circle-jerks in on major streets, one could argue (as happens during certain festivals here each year), is quite another story… you have a point!

  3. Marshall BananaSeptember 15, 2011 at 11:07 pmReply

    And Utah wonders why everyone hates mormans? There is no much thing as separation of church and state in that fucktard circus!

  4. DestrySeptember 16, 2011 at 8:15 amReply

    Yeah sure. I highly doubt this has anything thing to do with a prostitution ring, and everything to do with the utah undie run thats coming up. I am so sick of having to deal with lawmakers that are only concerned with enforcing their beliefs upon everyone else in this state. THATS IMMORAL. You can arrest all the people you want for this it wont matter. you will never have enough cops, time, or money to stop people from dancing, taking thier clothes off or just plain having fun at a club. Can we get some Lawmakers who are actually going to help this state out rather than flush it down a mormon toilet please?

    • RoadkillSeptember 18, 2011 at 9:30 amReply

      I think you hit the nail right on the head! It could be a preemptive strike on next Saturday’s Undie Run at The Gallivan Center. What a shame, people are just trying to have a good time and let loose a little bit, hopefully as long as people keep their undies on, nobody gets arrested. Keep in mind if they do decide to strip further down the organizers have already forewarned people that arrest is likely. No nudity, just good a time in a public place! I know its going to upset the normies around here, but they will eventually get over it!

  5. LexSeptember 17, 2011 at 12:24 pmReply

    Having lived in Utah all my life, I can very much vouch for the shitty way lawmakers go about things. They never think about the consequences and their methods of dealing with things ALWAYS bleeds over to other people it’s not supposed to affect.

    I’m also very certain that pushing such a thing into law has underhanded motives from a Mormon agenda. It’s not the first time and it certainly won’t be the last.

    • dSeptember 18, 2011 at 3:24 pmReply

      This article pretty much sucks. Are you writing about a law that was made to fight prostitution or just trying to bash someones religion? I’m pretty sure the only ones who are going to have to bitch about the law are the prostitutes who are groping themselves indicating intent of sex in exchange for money. As for all of you commenters who have trouble with spelling and grammar, If you don’t like mormons why do you continue to choose to live in a state that was founded by Mormons. You can live in San Francisco where sex is in the air and the religions aren’t as laughable.

      • Brett WilkinsSeptember 19, 2011 at 7:56 amReplyAuthor

        All religions are laughable. Magic underwear? Virgins giving birth? Talking snakes? Prophets riding to heaven on white horses? Sheesh! And just, I would ask, is so wrong about prostitution if it is taxed and regulated for health, safety and anti-pimping/human trafficking reasons? Prostitutes provide valuable services to communities, as evidenced by their undying popularity throughout all of human existence, as well as a real avenue for female empowerment for many women. As for your comment about living in a state founded by Mormons, this is a country that was founded on ideals of liberty that trump your little experiment in zealotry over there in Utah. Don’t get me wrong– the story about how the Mormons came to settle in Utah and the horrible persecution they faced should be taught loudly and repeatedly to our nation’s students, for it represents a most reprehensible chapter in our nation’s usually more respectable story of religious tolerance. But the socially backwards, hateful agenda (Utahans disgustingly intervened in grand fashion to stop MY gay neighbors from being able to marry each other here in California) perpetrated by the Mormon cult makes me, and most people around here, sick. How dare they?

  6. Scotty JaySeptember 18, 2011 at 1:52 pmReply

    Alright, this is an interesting point but you invalidated yourself by knocking on the Mormon church. That makes your article biased, thus not better than that which you are insulting.

    • Brett WilkinsSeptember 19, 2011 at 7:48 amReplyAuthor

      The Mormons, as all Western religions, deserved to be knocked, for they perpetuate ignorance, inequality and generally stagnate the progress of humanity. Since when is a blog supposed to be unbiased?

  7. JessicaSeptember 19, 2011 at 10:53 pmReply

    Here is the sad part: With all the problems in Utah, I would put prostitution on the lower end of the list. I mean this is UTAH. My word. But yet, the lawmakers have put this ridiculous time and money into a drawn out law that is going to enforced out of context, and probably provide little assistance in it’s original purpose. They are bending the law around entrapment.

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