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Sex Equals Free Speech in Oregon

Unnoticed by much of the country, the Oregon Supreme Court issued two rulings on September 29 declaring that live sex shows represent a constitutionally-protected form of “speech.” The Court ruled that the Oregon Constitution protects live sex acts as “free speech” and struck down lower court rulings that had declared the acts illegal.

According to the Portland Tribune, the Court “struck down a state law that makes it a crime to, among other things, ‘direct, manage, finance or present’ a ‘live public show’ in which the participants engage in ‘sexual conduct.’” As the Portland Oregonian observed, Oregon has “what are considered the nation’s most expansive protections of speech and expression.” As the paper explained: For more than two decades, the Oregon Supreme Court has taken a near-absolute approach to a wide range of laws restricting speech, striking down limits on campaign contributions as well as virtually any attempt to rein in the sex industry.

In a confusing twist, the Court ruled that persons could perform live sex acts as protected “speech,” even as it upheld the conviction of a club owner for profiting from prostitution. The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon celebrated the decisions. From the Oregonian: Dave Fidanque, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, said the ruling properly distinguished between legitimate expression — performing — and illegal conduct — having sex for money. “That should alleviate a lot of the concerns that any Oregonians might have about how far things might go,” Fidanque said. At the same time, he added, the rulings reaffirm “that Oregonians will continue to be able to decide for themselves what they want to read, see and hear rather than have those decisions made by government officials.” That “should alleviate a lot of the concerns that any Oregonians might have about how far things might go?” This is nuts.

Nevertheless, it is also a sign of things to come. The redefinition of sex acts as constitutionally-protected “speech” and the condemnation of all laws prohibiting such conduct as “censorship” is an increasingly popular idea in some legal circles.

LIVE LEGAL ACTS LINKS:  Oregon Supreme Court decisions, City of Nyssa v. Sally A. Duforth and Duane L. Smithand State of Oregon v. Ciancanelli.