Benjamin, Aaronson, Edinger & Patanzo, P.A.

Sex Sells but does it harm as well

 We don’t know how many times that we have started or ended one of our articles with the phrase “Sex Sells”. Last month’s article dealt with Osama bin Laden having pornographic movies in his hideout in Pakistan and again we trumpeted that obviously sex sells even in Pakistan.

  Over the last month, Daniel Aaronson has been interviewed by both the CBS and ABC affiliates in south Florida. The CBS affiliate questioned him on the booming pornography production business in south Florida, while the ABC affiliate questioned him on the propriety of mainline stores such as “Spencer Gifts” selling to minors sexual aides, blowup dolls and books with graphic depictions of sex. Were these truly human interest stories? Were these just rare coincidences? Was it the time for rating sweeps or was it just the general sex sells? Both of these stories aired and of course were accompanied by the planned shock and outrage. If sex sells, the one thing that sells even more is the confrontation and outrage about it.

  So now I, Daniel Aaronson, have had my face plastered on the televisions of south Florida as the local pornography and obscenity expert. I truly find that quite ironic since, if I am an expert, my partner James Benjamin is truly the guru. Although I have tried my fair share of obscenity cases, James Benjamin most likely has tried more obscenity cases than anyone in the State of Florida and his numbers have to rival those of anyone in the country.

 Back to sex sells. When Daniel Aaronson was contacted by the ABC affiliate here in south Florida, they wanted to pick his brains on whether it was against the law to sell the items sold at “Spencer Gifts”. Although he appeared on the television for only a few seconds, there was the 20 minute to half hour interview on the subject. It was explained to the ABC affiliate that under Florida Statutes, which are similar to those in other States, that for the material to be classified as being illegally sold or displayed to minors it must be material that is harmful to minors. Under Florida law the definition of “harmful to minors” is:

 “any reproduction, imitation, characterization, description, exhibition, presentation, or representation, of whatever kind or form, depicting nudity, sexual conduct or sexual excitement when it: (a) predominately appeals to a prurient, shameful, or morbid interest; (b) is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable material or conduct for minors; and ( c) taken as a whole is without serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors.”

  The channel 10 people (the ABC affiliate) after showing the material to Daniel Aaronson asked him if it was harmful to minors. They explained that they had sent in the cameraman’s son who was 13 to “Spencer Gifts” to buy the products. Daniel Aaronson asked the cameraman would he intentionally let his son be harmed and does he believe his son was harmed by looking at this material and purchasing it. Of course, the cameraman stated that he would never allow his son to be harmed and that his son was not harmed by it.

  It was then explained to the television people, that in order to get a conviction for the sales of these materials that a jury of people like themselves would have to determine that in fact it was harmful to the minors. The cameraman and the reporter both did not believe that the material was harmful to minors or they would not have sent the 13 year old boy in to purchase it.

 Then it was explained to them that they are a small microcosm of the people of the community and the police and the prosecutors realize that they would not be able to get a unanimous verdict on this material and that is why there is no prosecution. The fact that the book showing sexual poses was done in an incredibly artful way, along with the accompanying text, certainly could be argued that it had artistic and scientific value for minors. Again, things that would not make them harmful to minors.

  So, under south Florida’s standards “Spencer Gifts” did nothing wrong. Under south Florida’s standards the materials were not harmful to minors. Yet, why “Spencer Gifts” has these items out for display and does sell them to minors is beyond our comprehension. We constantly explain to all that will listen that we are in very liberal area of the law representing the adult entertainment industry. Yet, we explain to those same people who will listen that if you are engaged in this area of commerce, it is best to be very conservative within it. We always tell people and clients to error on the side of caution. When in doubt, the answer is No. Clients who come to us for advice would have strenuously been cautioned to make sure these materials are in places where minors cannot view them. The sale of these items to minors would have been prohibited.

  This is not to say that the sale to minors of these materials is illegal. But rather, when there are so many people out there who, for whatever reason find sex offensive; when there are so many organizations out there that are trying to shut us down; when the moral right (in political terms) are chomping at the bit to have a cause to march upon and to champion, it only makes sense to pass up a few bucks and not sell these materials to minors and to pass up a couple of extra dollars to not display them to minors. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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