Respecting the law . . .

Glenn Reynolds doesn't think Alabama's law criminalizing dildos deserves respect.

Well, it's my policy here, if not to literally bend over backwards, to at least attempt to be fair to both sides.

So I feel obligated to give the law the respect it deserves.

And the fact is, Alabama's legislators have made it a crime to sell marital aids like dildos:

Sell "any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs" and risk a $10,000 fine and a year in jail. A Southern jail.

But selling sexual devices "for a bona fide medical, scientific, educational, legislative, judicial or law enforcement purpose" is permissible.

Wait. Let's stop right there. While it strikes me as more than a little ridiculous (and in my view unconstitutional) to criminalize dildos and other sex toys, what on earth is going on with this exemption for judicial or law enforcement purposes? I mean, why should judges and cops be allowed to play around with these things while ordinary citizens have to get by without them?

How might this make the United States look internationally? (To say nothing of the Arab "street....")

Hmmmm..... And, considering the judicial and law enforcement exemptions, why isn't there an exemption for military purposes?

Or, how about journalistic purposes? Don't journalists work long and hard on their stories, and don't they need to conduct in depth field research?

What about our constitutionally protected protected right to freedom of expression? If we can burn bras or flags to make a statement, why can't we wave dildos? Might the "fair use" doctrine also apply?

How about eunuchs? They have enough problems not getting enough sex as it is, and they've apparently needed artificial help in the form of dildos since ancient times. Is it really fair to deprive them?

And, at the risk of sounding facetious, I must ask: why would a judge need a dildo any more than anyone else? To discipline errant attorneys?

Hey don't laugh. It happened. In California:

[Judge Geiler] invited a deputy public defender into chambers, produced a battery-powered dildo, and proceeded to thrust the object in the area of the attorney’s buttocks. Later, during the attorney’s cross-examination of a witness in open court, the judge suggested the dildo might be used to speed up the public defender’s cross-examination, a suggestion that the Supreme Court concluded was made with the intent of curtailing cross-examination.
Actually, the dildo mainly served to get Judge Geiler in a whole heap of trouble.

So, as a matter of public policy, why are judges being exempted from this law?

What's the bottom line?

And how on earth are dildos to be legitimately used in police work? The only law enforcement use I can imagine would most likely be considered entrapment.

Well, there's always Tom of Finland. (But surely the legislators weren't thinking along these lines....)

Hey, I'm trying to give the law the respect it deserves.

As the saying goes, bad cases make hard law.

UPDATE (03/02/05): Whoa, I've been out all morning and now I see that this post was linked last night by Glenn Reynolds! Thanks Glenn, and a warm welcome to all.

posted by Eric on 03.01.05 at 07:29 PM


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Tracked on March 2, 2005 4:14 PM


Its funny how you note the sentence regarding police and judicial use. To me, I lost all respect for that law (considering I had any to begin with) after reading that line. It is absurd how they can ban such items, let alone allow Judges and Cops to use them for a "legitimate reason." I don't know about them, but I don't know when was the last time a law officer "needed" a sex toy for police purposes. This looks like an example of government retaining its power to themselves. I think something should be done about such bans.

Alan   ·  March 1, 2005 11:21 PM

When you outlaw the Black Mamba, only outlaws will have the Black Mamba.

ted   ·  March 1, 2005 11:40 PM

In a post about about dildos, it's never good to use the expression "What's the bottom line?"

Seth   ·  March 2, 2005 12:08 AM

I think an outright ban goes too far, but I can see the need for some reasonable limits.

I’m all for imposing an 18 inch minimum length, so dildos can’t be concealed; mandating a maximum .50 caliber, to avoid undue bodily harm; and limiting magazine size to 10 batteries, to limit potential for abuse in large crowds. And although I have yet to see any concrete proposals, I feel there may be room for legislative protection against over penetration.

But I must stand firm on the allowal of flash suppressors and pistol grips. I find them both useful, and occasionally even necessary, in the privacy of my own bedroom. The addition of neither an assault dildo makes.

jmaster   ·  March 2, 2005 12:27 AM

As the saying goes, bad cases make hard law.

And if the law is hard, why would it need a dildo?

triticale   ·  March 2, 2005 12:35 AM

Penetrating analysis, Eric, without resorting to artificial constructs. Guess you'd be AOK in Bama.

c   ·  March 2, 2005 12:42 AM

I have had it with such laws, obviously misogynist in this case, to boot. I'm going to violate/fulfill Wolcott's Law (often referred to here in Classical Values) and quote my own eloquent words, which I wrote here:

"If sex is nothing but a joke, as the liberal "Naturalists" think, then laws against it are nothing but a joke and can be laughed off and ignored. But if sex is a sin against God and a crime against society, as "Jehovanists " believe, then laws against it must be enforced to placate God and preserve society. And if sex is a holy manifestation of the Godlike/Goddesslike self, as this "Gnostic" dogmatically believes, then laws against it are an unholy abomination and must be abolished."

That is where I stand.

maybe they were thinking about Judge Donald Thompson needing stimulation during trial when they mentioned "judicial" purpose.

Clark Ghitis   ·  March 2, 2005 2:05 AM

Classically, consenting adultry in private was against the criminal law but onanism in private was not. Now, if one consents to adultry in private and gives the pleasure away is not a crime. Seems the same thing, just some odd folks interering with onan commerce for odd reasons. Can we give away sex toys or is that an issue to be decided by the toy using Judges?

L. B. Harrell   ·  March 2, 2005 3:05 AM

Remember Mr. Louima? He was a security guard at a NYC night club who was arrested for trying to break up a fight. Shortly after he was arrested he was hospitalized for a punctured bladder because the proud NYPD didn't have a didldo and therefore had to use the handle of a toilet plunger to place up his butt.

nyp7535dhero   ·  March 2, 2005 3:13 AM

Didn't Kentucky Fried Movie have a judicial use for a dildo?

"Are you familiar with section 69 of the penile code?" the prosecutor demands as he waves a dildo in the defendant's face ...

Err that would be "penal" code, wouldn't it?

Kentucky Fried Movie   ·  March 2, 2005 3:27 AM

Sounds to me like the Police and Judicial exception is intended to let them set up sting operations.

Eric   ·  March 2, 2005 9:02 AM

I wrote about this when the Supreme Court first declined the case...

Among the issues I consider... do they also outlaw back massagers? And do they consider "hysteria" to be a medical condition?

Nick   ·  March 2, 2005 9:39 AM

The only good legislature is an adjourned legislature.
On the other hand I smell an investment opportunity right across the border.

Anonymous   ·  March 2, 2005 9:45 AM

You anarchists! You just have no respect for legislative morality, with correspondingly stiff penalties.

Your argument sucks and is just erecting a strawman!

"The mouths of the rightous suckle softly on the breasts of holy love; King Squanchobooyah did see this in the year of his flesh; And he did erect his rod in the name of holy love." --Czarinthias 9:21

Rob Read   ·  March 2, 2005 10:07 AM

jmaster, are you aware that .50 caliber equates to 1/2 inch? I think limiting dildoes to 18 inches in length and 1/2 inch in diameter would be basically legalizing the riding crop... Although a riding crop with 10 AAA batteries (the only ones that would fit in such a narrow toy) may give an unexpected jolt...

Cletus   ·  March 2, 2005 1:17 PM

It looks like it's not illegal to own one, only sell one, unless it's for "law enforcement" purposes. So how long before we see an Alabama FOP hardware sale?

brainy435   ·  March 2, 2005 2:12 PM


Yes I am aware.

I may be guilty of stretching the gun/dildo analogy a bit too far.

But then again, aren't many current gun laws just as ridiculously arbitrary?

jmaster   ·  March 2, 2005 10:34 PM

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