Thursday, March 27, 2008

Here We Go Again...

Reported in Publishers Weekly: There's a new Indiana law that requires bookstores to register with the government if they sell what is considered "sexually explicit materials." The new law, H.B. 1042, was signed by Governor Mitch Daniels on March 13 and calls for any bookseller that sells sexually explicit materials to register with the Secretary of State and provide a statement detailing the types of books to be sold. The Secretary of State must then identify those stores to local government officials and zoning boards. “Sexually explicit material” is defined as any product that is “harmful to minors” under existing law. There is a $250 registration fee. Failure to register is a misdemeanor.

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) spokesman Chris Finan said the law is the only one of its kind currently on the books in the country. (But if it's successful, i.e., not repealed due to unconstitutionality, what d'ya wanna bet it won't be the last?) Calling it "clearly unconstitutional," Finan said ABFFE will urge the Media Coalition to challenge the law at the organization's next meeting on April 9. H.B. 1042 does not go into effect until July, by which time Finan is hopeful the lawsuit will be filed and an injunction issued by the court.

Hey, I'm all for protecting children against things they're too young to understand--there are some things those under at least the age of 16 (maybe even 18) shouldn't be exposed to, such as overt violence and sex. Of course, this bill only deals with sexual content, did you get that? Books/games/music that are overly violent (which could also be harmful to minors) aren't being singled out. And, anyway, isn't "policing" what children see their parents' jobs?

And, First Amendment, anyone?

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