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Michigan Gets Tough on Porn

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Nov 6, 2003 12:00 AM PST    Text size: 
DETROIT, Mich. – A new law signed by the state's Governor Jennifer Granholm will legally require bookstores, video retailers, magazine kiosks, and all media retail outlets to conceal sexually explicit materials from minors.

The legislation, which was passed unanimously by the House and Senate, is an attempt to keep children under the age of 18 from being exposed to sexually explicit material, which the state of Michigan feels has become so abundant that a law is needed to monitor what is seen and by whom. The law will go in effect on Jan. 1.

Those materials deemed "explicit" could range from book covers, magazines, video boxes, sex manuals, romance novels, and more mainstream laddie and women's magazines.

When enacted, the law could land business owners in jail for 93 days and impose stiff fines of up to $5,000.

According to the Ann Arbor News, an earlier version of the law would have outlawed the display of R-rated movies such as "Pretty Woman."

Despite a period of lengthy debate between business owners and anti-porn advocates, the new law determines that sexually explicit material involves "nudity, sexual excitement, erotic fondling, sexual intercourse, or sadomasochistic abuse."

The legislation was authored by Rep. Triette Reeves (D-Detroit) and is mainly targeted at truck stops, convenience stores, gas stations, and other retail outlets that sell adult magazines or videos.

"Our kids should not be exposed to the most graphic types of obscenity when they go to their neighborhood gas station to buy ice cream," Brad Snavely, executive director the Michigan Family Forum, told the Ann Arbor News.

Despite the call to arms against publishers, distributors, and displayers of adult material, critics of the new law say that the terms of the legislation are far too broad and impinge on First Amendment rights.

Many retailers feel that the law could "stifle" the amount of media content that is available to the public in the future.

There is also outrage over the cost the law will levy against business owners who will be required to cover the bottom two thirds of any materials that fall under the terms of "sexually explicit" material.

A legal challenge might be in the wings, say some critics, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is currently looking into opposing the law.

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